Thursday, September 17, 2009

Keeping Good Company

There is an old saying that has been loosely translated from the ancient Greeks: “A man is known by the company he keeps,” or if you’d rather “birds of a feather, gather together.” My mother and father were keenly interested in knowing who my friends were. They knew that “running with the wrong crowd,” would influence my behavior, or perhaps even be a reflection or an indicator of whom I wanted to be.

They were right of course. My dreams, desires and goals of whom I hoped to be, and what I wanted to accomplish guided me in my selection of companions. Even in a small town there were options. There were the “good boys,” - law abiding, studious types. Their close cousins were the fun-loving, trouble-makers - nice guys, but with a glint and a grin. The next group was the juvenile delinquents; Mom closed the confirmation hearings there.

According to my Mom these boys were headed for prison, or at least reform school. Dad had driven me by these brick and stone structures enough times for me to know that I did not want to end up inside. But just to make sure that the point wasn’t missed Dad would remind me that “unless you shape up that’s where you’ll be.”

My choice of friends, confirmed by my parents, was a good predictor of how an evening and even the rest of my life was going to turn out. Even as an adult it is my friends that I rely on for support and guidance. These are the people I turn to when I am in trouble, or when I need help with something. They share similar values and beliefs. They are my trusted advisors.

Nepotism is the granting of favors to friends and relatives. It is a word to describe what everyone realizes and accepts: It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know. President Obama is doing what everyone does when they are elected to office – surrounding himself with his friends and comrades, people he trusts who have similar values and beliefs. But he is taking it a mile further than the inch given him.

He has appointed Czars. Czars are special advisors to the President chosen by the President. They are paid positions with authority given only by the President. It also appears that they are answerable only to the President.

The past four Presidents have appointed czars as well. Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush each appointed one, Bill Clinton three, and George W. Bush appointed four. But so far President Obama has appointed over thirty czars – some with very radical views, and there are indications that his czar appointments will exceed forty. But these are not just advisors; these czars have power and truckloads of cash to spend.

Even among Democrats there is concern over this grab for power. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va), the most senior member of the Senate serving continuously since 1959, wrote President Obama to express his strong objection.

"The rapid and easy accumulation of power by White House staff can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances. At the worst, White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials.”

The framers of the Constitution guarded against placing too much power in any one branch. President Obama is upsetting the delicate balance between the three branches of government by purposely surpassing the confirmation process held by Congress. But with or without confirmation hearings for his czars, President Obama shall be known by the company he keeps.

1 comment:

  1. A man is known by the company he keeps and enemies he makes.

    Nice post!