Thursday, February 10, 2011

Decline and Fall: Learning from the Lee Story

The almost instantaneous nature of Chris Lee's resignation -- most people learned about the Craigslist story and the resignation simultaneously -- tells us something (we think).

The GOP leaders in the House must have laid down the law:   screw up like this and you're out.   No discussions, explanations or excuses.   You go immediately.

This avoids the typical, dreary pattern of several (at least) days of evasions, meticulously worded, utterly unconvincing canned statements, and the crescendo of media attention accompanying it all.

It all ends the same anyway -- the offender goes -- so just get it out of the way now.

Read Lee's resignation statement.   It reads like a generic document, something Speaker Boehner could have prepared in advance and had ready, suitable for any scandal that might pop up.

Smart political strategy.

A modern-day version of the old British Army method of dealing with a disgraced officer, delightfully sent up by Evelyn Waugh in Decline and Fall:

"Now, Grimes, you've got to behave like a gentleman.  We don't want a court martial in this regiment.   We're going to leave you alone for half an hour.   There's your revolver.   You know what to do.   Good bye, old man," they said quite affectionately."

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