Wanted: Character in the leadership of the United States, Part III

Part three in a short series

Last week I discussed ‘Truthfulness’ and being ‘Fiscally Responsible’. This week I focus on ‘Transparency’.


Johnny Carson, star of television’s Tonight Show for 30 years, did a skit on his show addressing political honesty and transparency. Playing a congressman, he was hooked up to a polygraph machine during a press conference and whenever he misspoke, there was a loud buzz. As you may have guessed, the press conference was continuously interrupted by the buzz as Johnny answered questions from the press concerning the environment, equal rights for women, his real name, etc. (can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbWI9xIGba4). His answers were so extreme that it was obvious that he was not being truthful. Unfortunately today many of our politicians seem to have PHDs in “deception” (if you wish me to be politically correct). Don’t you wonder what it would be like if each time one of our politicians said or wrote something he/she could be hooked up to a “deception machine”?

Our president, in the very beginning of his term said: “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.” He also wrote a memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies that said: “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government. This was said in reference to the Freedom of Information Act. This Act applies to the public solicitation of information and applies to the Executive branch of government agencies. This is certainly an important Act. However, I think transparency of the administration should go further. Should our leaders not be required to be transparent about themselves and what they say? After all, unlike what many of them think, they are our employees. They should be willing to provide any information we request which may have an impact on their qualifications to be our leaders or could disqualify them because of what they have done.

To be or not to be transparent? That is the question. My answer to that question is yes! In other words, sometimes our leaders should be transparent and other times they should not be for the country’s own good. Truth and transparency cover a wide range of territory. When a 2,700 page health care bill was pushed through the House and was very close to not making it through the Senate, the House Majority Leader, trying to get it over the hump of the Senate, made the famous quote: “But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it....” One of our country’s problems is it has become so controlling, so litigious and so polarized that our government takes 2,700 pages to write a law that most don’t understand. Surveys (of at least 1,000 likely voters) done between July 9 and October 6 by Rasmussen, CBS News/NY Times, Resurgent Republic, NBC News/Wall Street Journal and NPR averaged 41.4 percent in favor of the health care bill and 48.6 percent opposed to it, with the largest oppositions occurring in the more recent weeks. The same report shows a survey taken October 5 and 6 that shows 54 percent of likely voters are in favor of repeal of the Act while 39 percent oppose its repeal. Once again, remember these politicians are our employees.


The current administration was pleased in the killing of Osama bin Laden (as they should have been), yet they should not have used it as a political feather in their cap to tell the world of their strategy and the involvement of Seal Team 6 in the successful mission. The president even invited some of the Hollywood stars who have supported him to the White House to give them details of the mission. Many active and retired Service personnel have spoken out about this saying providing this information not only hinders future missions but may endanger the lives of the members of Seal Team 6. In other words, there is a time to brag and also a time to keep those “loose lips that sink ships” shut. Likewise, I personally don’t want to hear news spread around the world about the president’s bunker below the White House, where we store secret archives or which countries we are spying on with drones or by other means.

As usual, the first presidential debate was followed by various media fact checks. It appears that neither of the men were 100 percent transparent. One can parse and bloviate on a subject to make his argument seem correct. However, many times certain facts were omitted or there were shades of grey in the argument to embellish his position.

Going back to Johnny Carson, I find it interesting that before being a star on the Tonight Show he was either on a panel or star of two game shows: To Tell The Truth and Who Do You Trust. Due to the tremendous impact the November election will have on America, I pray that each voter will determine who is most truthful and who can be trusted the most.

Jeff Hall has lived in Delaware and Chester counties most of his life, the last four years in Honey Brook. He worked for a large retail food chain in the Risk Management function and retired from a position of Property Insurance Broker from a consulting firm. He is a Born-again Christian who enjoys reading and writing, and is concerned with the direction the country is headed.