Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Murdoch Channels George W. Bush

In the Parliamentary hearing about media misdeeds yesterday, Rupert Murdoch resembled his favorite American President.

During eight years in office, George W. Bush, who called himself the Decider, never took responsibility for anything that went wrong. At the low point of the Iraq war, he would go only as far as to admit, “Mistakes were made.”

In the same way, Murdoch and his son blame underlings for abuses of power, just as Bush let Scooter Libby, Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove take the fall when things went wrong in such misadventures as the outing of Valerie Plame and the firing of U.S. attorneys.

This is a redefinition of Harry Truman’s “The buck stops here.” For today’s chief executives (call it the Enron principle), the buck, as blame, stops somewhere down there. Only the bucks, as the fruits of an enterprise, reach the top.

This separation of power and responsibility is endemic in the 21st century (see Tea Party and the debt-ceiling crisis), leaving so-called leaders to take all the bows and, when things go wrong, hide behind the stupidity and/or stubbornness of their followers.

For the rest of us, there are few outlets for frustration at this lack of accountability. The clown who pie-pelted Rupert Murdoch is reminiscent of the Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at President Bush in Baghdad during his last month in office.

Neat symbolism, but it only hurts when we laugh.

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