Al Gonzales – Company Man

Force does not constitute right… obedience is due only to legitimate powers. Jean Jacques Rousseau

Anybody who knows me knows I’m a sucker for the Mexicans. I was sold the first time I went to Mexico City on vacation in 1995 and decided then that I would work there some day. I’ve spent more than ten years of living, working and traveling around at various times in Mexico and in the Little Mexico we have here in Chicago. I’ve even become teary eyed as I’m driving recently while listening to the stories on Chicago Public Radio’s series, “Chicago Matters: Beyond Borders.”

So it’s difficult for me to admit that Alberto Gonzales is one first generation Mexican-American I can’t like. Now, I don’t know him personally, but in any other context I would have been a pushover for his story of being one of eight siblings, the only one to go to college, son of migrant farm workers. In his speech, he said, “I’ve lived the American dream. Even my worst days as attorney general have been better than any of my father’s best days.” That chokes me up…

But I have to admit that today’s editorial in the Financial Times hits the nail on the head and gives us a lesson in how good, otherwise intelligent people, can end up disgraced, or worse. Beware the company man, the one who does whatever the boss says, without question, in return for favors granted, options, bonuses and, to their dismay, sometimes only vague promises and, later, desertion.

Alberto Gonzales was loyal but, even worse, he was obedient. When because of fear, insecurity, feelings of non-deservedness or blind ambition, a man binds himself with unflinching devotion to the fortunes of another more powerful man, he has sold his soul while swallowing his pride.

Gonzales was unfit from the outset

“To call the resignation of Alberto Gonzales as US attorney-general overdue seems barely adequate. From the outset, he was the most delinquent and incompetent holder of that vital office in living memory…The main criticism to make of Mr Gonzales is not that he put loyalty to the president above his obligations to the constitution. The office of attorney-general calls for a difficult balancing act: the problem of divided loyalties goes with the job. Mr Gonzales’ great failure was in offering his political master not loyalty but blind, sycophantic obedience. …Yet the departing attorney- general does not appear to be an evil man, so much as one who was utterly out of his depth. This was apparent even before his appointment…As Mr Gonzales dug himself ever deeper into a hole of his own making, affront at his conduct gave way to incredulity and even to a measure of sympathy. The man was entirely unfitted to the office. For what happened on his watch, blame the president who appointed him.”

1 reply
  1. robert fligel
    robert fligel says:

    Very well put Francine. It seems to me that our current President has been surrounded by “company” men which has been quite unfortunate. It is sad that our world respect, financial condition and other areas have deteriorated over the past several years. I also think that it’s not coincidental that this mirrors the lack of corporate ethics, outsized compensation packgages and similar. . I am old enough to appreciate that everthing goes in cycles so eventually there will be a return to “normalcy” I still feel fortunate to live in such a fabulous, rich and productive country.

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