On Sunday’s Meet the Press, Newt Gingrich, no less a master of self-deception himself, referred to our concluding first decade of the new century as “the decade of self-deception.” Newt’s right. It’s probably that and more.
And 2 Sundays ago, NY Times columnist Frank Rich used Tiger Woods as the “farcical” prop for his own 2009 Person of the Year, writing of Woods, “His sham beatific image, questioned by almost no one until it collapsed, is nothing if not the farcical reductio ad absurdum of the decade’s flimflams, from the cancerous (the subprime mortgage) to the inane (balloon boy).” See Op-Ed Columnist – Tiger Woods, Person of the Year – NYTimes.com.
Frank’s probably right. But it’s that and more.
More than flim-flam and self-deception.
I believe it’s more than being flim-flammed by fraudsters. And it’s more than self-deception. It’s really about our reluctance to reject victimhood, that convenient cloak that hides our own misconduct and our societal unwillingness to accept our own personal responsibility.
Anymore, no one is responsible for the choices they make. It’s always someone else’s or something else’s fault.
Besides Tiger Woods who’ll probably claim Flip’s excuse plus that he’s suffering from a sexual addiction needing rehab., it’s also everybody else that can’t seem to get out of their own way. It’s never our own stupidity that gets us in trouble. It’s somebody else’s.
It wasn’t our bad choice, for instance, to invest with that crooked investor who promised us abnormally high returns. Or it’s not my kid’s fault that he’s a 7 year undergraduate. It’s the college’s fault he can’t get the classes he needs.
And it wasn’t the low-income consumer’s fault for recklessly using easy credit but the predatory bank’s wrongdoing for luring him. And it wasn’t the minimum wage-earning couple’s fault for buying a home they couldn’t afford but the lying mortgage broker who told them to sign the loan documents anyway.
The season of decade-ending and year-ending lists and more lists.
But for decade-ending and year-ending emblematic themes or images, I prefer to diverge from Frank Rich and Newt Gingrich and look elsewhere – – – to lawyers, of course.
Here, I’ll also disregard the plaudits of the victimhood crowd and focus instead on 2 lawyers. Neither represents a paean to personal responsibility but in their own unique ways, for me, they’re more representative of the decade and the year soon past.
Representing the decade-long blundering incompetence that has laid low the economy and the social and political classes from the White House to Wall Street to Congress to Business to Law is the tale of hapless Harry Whittington, the Austin, Texas lawyer Dick Cheney shot when they were out quail-hunting.
Now Harry is no wrongdoer here. If he’s culpable of anything, we can claim the same mea culpa. Like the rest of us, he, too, picked the same myopic hunting companion with an itchy trigger-finger to lead him around.
Then again, my year-ending emblematic lawyer selection is something altogether different. He’s emblematic of the running incivility among lawyers. And while there were certainly many contenders this year, including, Joe “He Lied” Wilson, Florida Big Wheel Scott Rothstein, or the infamous ex-SEC lawyer Marc Dreier, there’s really only one obvious recipient. It’s the Toilet Tussling Toothy Tennessean by the name of Mark Lambert.
Proving that you can spite another’s face by cutting off his nose, Mark Lambert gets the year ending discourtesy nod for biting off the tip of a guy’s nose over a bathroom brouhaha involving possession and use of a restaurant toilet stall. Lambert ends the year as the most incisive (or is it incisor?) example of lawyer incivility. Tennessee lawyer Mark Lambert bites off part of Greg Herbers’ nose .
Maybe, Lambert should have bartered the use of the toilet in exchange for quality legal services? In the interest of fair reporting, Lambert did add, though, that he didn’t swallow the part of Herber’s nose he bit off.
Well, that’s a relief counselor.
Happy New Year!
In closing, and looking forward to a more civil and more societally responsible 2010, I say “Happy New Year.”
 Old Newt is no slouch to self-deception. In 2007, he parsed his own morality when it conveniently suited him during the Bill Clinton impeachment hearings. See FOXNews.com – Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich Acknowledges …