In just about every religion, there’s some dogma that says that at the end of your life you have to account for yourself.
The Jews and the Catholics might take this the furthest. They believe that all of it counts – everything you did and said and even thought. And on Judgment Day, it’s all played back to you and you have to answer for it.
What else can you say to that except: “Damn!”
Just take the simple matter of saying something stupid. Who hasn’t done that? Who hasn’t been angry and blurted out something ill-advised? Who hasn’t been fooling around and taken it too far?
As for us, we can live with what we’ve done in life. Yeah, we’ve made some mistakes, but we’ve basically toed the line. No crimes. Nothing egregious in terms of our actual conduct, but our words? Damn, if every dumb thing we ever uttered was put out there minus the overall context, we’d look like, at best, asses. The off-color comments, and jokes and quips – it goes beyond simply being insensitive. There have been times, in the company of other irreverent people, when we’ve mocked the very concept of sensitivity. Think of the Clint Eastwood character in Gran Torino – now multiply that by ten.
Gulp. We’re going to hell. For sure.
This odd personal reflection on our part is our way of recommending David Grandeau for head of the state’s public integrity agency.
Grandeau is the only guy we think can do the job in the way it needs to be done. But before we get to what that means, you have to get over of this small, insignificant hurdle: If – Supreme Being-like – you insist on holding Grandeau to account for every crazy thing he’s ever said, well then forget it. He’s hell bound.
But if you can separate yourselves from the notion that you’re only as good as what you’ve said in your most flippant moment, then you’ll see that Grandeau is the best person for the job.
First and foremost, he’s nobody’s stooge, toady or crony. And isn’t that the imperative? Isn’t it?
Second, he doesn’t want the damn job. He’s not trying to burnish his resume or impress anyone. In fact, he’s the anti-careerist. Just read his crazy blog in which he parodies everyone in town. (Every once in a while, when we’re feeling like we might be getting a little too edgy and weird in our blog, we just dial up his blog and it makes us feel nauseatingly conventional.)
And on the matter of his crazy blog, we’ve made a crazy revelation: Perhaps the best prosecutor, the best jurist, the best person sitting in judgment of others on ethical matters is a person who at least has contemplated the other side of things.
In this regard, Grandeau, irreverent-to-the-max guy that he is, knows the crazy world of Albany from all angles and can distinguish between the appearance of a problem and a real problem.
Every New York state ethics chief since Grandeau has lacked that ability. They’ve all been grammarians who are clueless about Albany. On top of that, they’ve been pompous asses who divided the world into those who are connected to those in power and thus ethical, and everyone else.
Grandeau may be an ass, but he isn’t pompous and he doesn’t think he’s better than other people.
Most importantly, he knows that knowing influential people should mean shit when it comes to ethics.
There’s another thing he knows. We don’t need a million new laws. We need aggressive, but fair enforcement of the ones we have.