Deconstructing the deconstructed
I’ve recently been in communication with someone who knows somebody I used to know. Yeah, that’s vague, but I don’t see any reason to further beat somebody while he’s down, so there’s no reason to go calling names again. This was an e-mail today that I think you could plug many political names into and it would fit. It’s an answer to the (paraphrased) question: How could we see the same guy so differently? The answer posted here in a slightly redacted version for no other reason than I thought it was sort of timely.
I think a short way to put the difference in impressions would be this: you worked with him and those who didn’t like him as much worked around him. For a lot of reporters, X’s way of doing business (which was admittedly status quo) was antithetical to our idealistic view of governnment. That said, I came here by way of the [another state’s] statehouse during the [old dead Governor] years, so I wasn’t entirely naive about how things worked.
It was pretty clear during Y’s term in office that X pulled a lot of the strings and was the rainmaker for the administration. So, when things looked squirrelly, as they often did, we routinely looked at X as the man who pulled the strings. I think the [redacted] contracts issue alone exhausted our patience. I personally was working on a pretty big project at the time involving political ads and had quite a few dealings with X as he did his best to defend Y’s campaign. More than a couple of them were unfriendly, and despite my understanding he was just doing his job, I lost a lot of respect for him. He was routinely condescending to the media and felt he could bully most of the young reporters. I should thank him, because he made me better at my job.
All in all, I figure X is probably a pretty good guy. His biggest problem was that he represented a lot about government that people outside the inner circle didn’t like. He was its face for years and I think that followed him along the way. He’s probably paying the price for a lot of people who operated like he did and didn’t get caught. There is a certain amount of schadenfreude involved and it’s probably more pervasive than you, he, or I thought it would be.
Do I think he’s being treated differently now than other people who have committed worse crimes? I would have no way of knowing. I’m sure it probably feels that way to him. I’ve fortunately never been in his position and hope to never be. Either way, it’s probably a good lesson to us all.