Frank Rich's column today was entitled "No one is to blame for anything." It's all about the avoidance of responsibility in our public and private lives. It often seems that no one ever takes responsibility for anything anymore.
For example, Alan Greenspan, Fed chairman for some 18 years, in his testimony before Congress last week essentially just said, "Not my fault, man!" This man who was in charge of the economy for 18 years during which the housing bubble grew and grew and grew until it burst. This man who oversaw the rise of corruption on Wall Street and the wearing away by the free marketers of any kind of effective regulation of banks and credit institution. This man who has the reputation of being a financial genius - "The Oracle" - tells us that he never had reason to suspect that anything was wrong and he voices no regrets over his actions or inactions that have caused incredible hardships to literally millions of people. He feels no responsibility. He was just doing his duty.
Of course, Greenspan is only one example. Unfortunately, there are many others, especially in the world of politics, and in all areas of public life. Whenever they are caught with their hands in the cookie jar or up the skirt of some woman who is not their wife, or, for that matter, in the pants of some man, it's not their fault. The devil made them do it or it's all an invention of "the lamestream media" to borrow half-Gov. Palin's phrase. It was just a momentary lapse and not a pattern of behavior. Yeah, right.
How refreshing and unexpected it is when anyone actually owns up to his failures and accepts responsibility without trying to shift blame onto someone else or some unusual set of circumstances. Thus, as Rich points out in his column, David Letterman was a winner when he came clean on his television show, without obfuscation, about his infidelities, he acknowledged that everything was his fault, and he apologized to those he had hurt. Would that Alan Greenspan, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and others of their ilk would show such honor. Then we might think about forgiving them. Not until then, though.