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Latest Scandals Are a Reflection of Character

Secret Service, GSA and military scandals are emblematic of larger, more pervsaive moral failing.

“The Perfect Storm of Liberalism has arrived.  A professional collapse inside the several departments and agencies of the United States government created by a decades-long erosion of standards. An erosion fed by all manner of deadly liberal obsessions from racial quotas to political correctness to an addiction to lawsuits, the tolerance for a culture of out of control spending...”  Jeffrey Lord

Last week, Americans watched in astonishment as scandal after scandal involving well-respected government institutions (the Secret Service, the GSA, the U.S. military) unfolded, and each new revelation just angered us more.

The Secret Service scandal prompted Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and Congressman Carolyn Maroney (D-NY) to ask: Where are the women?   

Collins said, "I can't help but wonder if there'd been more women as part of that detail, if this ever would have happened.”  Collins and Maroney even made the rounds of Sunday’s television news talk shows. The assumption of the two legislators was that if women comprised more than 11% of the Secret Service Agency (the current composition), scandals like this would be less likely to happen. The premise may or may not be accurate, but the 11% female makeup of the Secret Service does seem a bit low, and we can only assume that not all of those women are field agents, eligible to be assigned to protecting the President, or even to be on the Advance teams. 

Based on those legislators’ remarks, Palladian View recently posed a question to our Pillars (our distinguished group of influential conservative women) that asked: “Is more diversification in the Secret Service Agency what is needed to curtail future scandalous behavior?” 

The overwhelming consensus of the Pillars was that the scandal was a leadership, and not a gender issue. One former state legislator from Kansas to said: “We need to realize that with fewer people strengthening their moral compass with religious study and commitment to a higher cause than self, we will continue to face these gigantic shortfalls in behavior.”  

Peggy Noonan, a former speechwriter to President Reagan, wrote about “America’s Character” in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “I've long thought that public dissatisfaction is about more than the economy, that it's also about our culture, or rather the flat, brute, highly sexualized thing we call our culture.” 

Noonan went on to suggest that “these stories may sound like the usual sins and scandals, but in the aggregate they seem like something more disturbing, more laden with implication.”

In previous administrations, Secret Service agents were terminated “on the spot” for unscrupulous behavior that put the country in an embarrassing position and the president (or guarded dignitary) in potential jeopardy, such as public drunkenness and improper relations. The recent scandal in Colombia is not the first of its kind, nor is it likely to be the last. However, with our current litigious society and culture of political correctness, “on the spot” termination is often exchanged for administrative leave with pay, or suspension. Quotas based on gender and ethnicity also have led to lawsuits for promotions and overall lower admissions standards.

One ground rule our Pillars did agree on was that women should have to pass the Agency tests with the same standards as their male counterparts, as much for their own personal safety as for the safety of those they would protect. One is led to wonder if America’s fetish for lawsuits, quotas and political correctness has led to the lowering, if not erosion of high personal and professional standards in the agencies that most need them.  

Is the Secret Service scandal mainly the result of a gender gap, as Collins and Maroney suggest? Or, as the former Kansas state legislator and Noonan propose, a lapse in overall morality and character? Or are these scandals a result of weak leadership and organizational erosion of standards, as Jeffrey Lord suggests? The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle with a combination of all of the above. The larger question that must be addressed with honest and serious debate is how to fix broken institutions and how to reinstate those high standards of personal responsibility, professionalism and decency in our federal government agencies. 

Palladian View, a digital magazine for the conservative Republican woman, can be found at www.palladianview.com.

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