GSA scandal brings more misbehavior in Washington
Published: Friday, April 20, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Last week was perhaps the worst week to be a federal employee since Watergate. From prostitutes to Vegas masquerades, Washington has not been on its best behavior.
Frankly, if the suits in D.C. were to get a report card for conduct this semester, it’d be a big fat F. But while the American public continues to face international humiliation for their leaders’ malfeasance, Capitol Hill’s finest continue to take a long recess.
In an era that will undoubtedly be described as the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the General Service Administration took to demonstrating just how recklessly money can be spent by squandering taxpayer dollars to fund a $823,000 “training conference,” which we might as well refer to as a royal spring break, considering the tab included $7,000 for sushi, $5,600 for in-room parties, $3,700 for t-shirts, $2,800 in water bottles, $1,500 for Boursin scalloped potatoes, $3,200 for a session with a mind reader, $400 for three officials to rent tuxedos and $2,700 for a senior official to entertain employees after the closing dinner. Did I mention all of this was on Middle Americans’ bill?
That’s right, while you’re taking out a third mortgage and frantically trying to stay afloat while juggling student loan payments and trying to send your kid to a decent day care while you work double shifts, GSA officials deem it appropriate to fork up the equivalent of two months rent to have their palms read.
This is about the time when the teacher should come over with a ruler.
But not before the Secret Service gets put in a hefty time out. Eleven agents and 10 members of the military enjoyed an evening in Cartenga, Colombia, prior to President Obama’s arrival for the weekend Summit of the Americas, with the help of 21 Colombian escorts. I can’t figure out which is worse, spending taxpayer money to have a pseudo psychic look in a crystal ball or being so stingy, you can’t even put up more than $30 for a one-nighter.
And let’s not forget about U.S. soldiers posing with mangled bodies of Afghan insurgent bombers or about the $2 million the Federal Election Commission recently discovered in an audit that the Obama administration conveniently forgot to disclose in 2008’s contributions. Sure, $2 million in the grand scheme of election cash is chump change, but it speaks to a larger issue — the blatant disregard for transparency in Washington.
How are we supposed to put our confidence in any federal official, regardless of partisanship, when every television we watch or paper we read reeks of lie after lie and ultimately brings the American public economically, militarily and socially further into the can?
Hey, big wigs have never been the most morally erect, and despite the staged and corny campaign ads, none of the American public believes the individuals they elect are as pristine as the image they project. We know politicians and federal workers are humans. We don’t expect perfection, we just expect competence. Part of that competence includes behavior ownership. Why is it that when an average citizen fudges numbers or has an indiscretion their lives are ruined and reputations smeared, but if you’re one of the few lucky people who doesn’t pay for stamps you get a pass?
Instead of “Change you can believe in” or “Believe in America” as campaign slogans, maybe 2012’s presidential candidates should focus on what Americans genuinely need to hear:
“I won’t lie to you or reach in your pockets without asking.”
To the point, it’s something Washington should try, along with a timeout and bedtime without dessert.