So what is it with all this classified material?
Why do our leaders keep not knowing how to handle it or what to do with it?
(And could someone please tell Prince Harry to keep things a little more classified?)
Allow us not to wade too fully into what we do not know. Allow us also not to be dissuaded from all discussion because there is so much we do not know.
The Presidential Records Act, passed in 1978, changed the legal status of Presidential and Vice Presidential materials so that the official records of the President and his staff are owned by the United States. This legislation took effect with the onset of the Reagan administration in 1981.
Still, many have been accused of mishandling what is property of the United States. Said list includes — first, prior to passage — Pres. Nixon (who served in part the motivation for said created act) — and since, public officials such as Hillary Clinton, Sandy Berger, and now most notably, both Presidents Trump and Biden. Trump had his ostentatiously confiscated in Mar-a-Lago last fall. Biden had his discreetly discovered a week before our last election; we found out this past week.
(Let us pause for a moment, as the attempt by Berger, Pres. Bill Clinton’s National Security Advisor deserves a little more of a distinct shout out. Berger pleaded guilty to removing highly classified documents from the National Archives in 2004; the inspector general of the National Archives said a staff member had witnessed Berger wrapping the documents around his socks and under his pants. Such would be comical if not so sad.)
Why is it so hard for those who lead us to lead with consistent competency?
I don’t believe competency — or compassion — should have to be sacrificed with any of our elect. I don’t believe transparency or honesty should be forfeited either.
But such isn’t quite the angle I wish to pursue this day. I’m more looking at wise ways to respond to the obvious lack of competency.
Let me first simply say…
I’m disappointed in Trump’s mishandling of classified materials. I’m disappointed in Biden’s mishandling of classified materials. And I’m disappointed how Biden’s mishandling of classified materials potentially impacts Trump’s mishandling.
We’ve heard many who, when comparing the two Presidents’ recent mishandling, quickly aver that the situations are not the same. With the minimal we know at this point, such assessment appears to be spot on; the situations are not the same.
My sense, though, is that we are oft lured too far by our bias and bent in assessing issues of questionable leadership competency — in this case, for example, asserting that we are comparing apples to oranges. Let me respectfully submit that such is an inaccurate depiction. While the situations are clearly not the same, we’re really simply comparing two different kinds of apples.
To perhaps better explain via a related paradigm that many of the rest of us encounter — especially our very respected healthcare professional friends — HIPAA laws are still HIPAA laws regardless of content and cooperation. There are rules for a reason which set national standards to protect potentially sensitive health information. It doesn’t matter what the info is, who the person is, how much info it contains, nor how seemingly harmoniously the guilty party’s error is admitted. Hence, this isn’t apples to oranges; this is Fuji vs. Golden Delicious.
So let us not rush to defend or attack. As stated, just as I’ve already heard from many on all sides of the proverbial partisan aisle, there is ample reason to be deeply disappointed in both the current and most recent President’s behavior. I, for one, find it especially cringeworthy when I see one (or both) of them boast of what they will never ever do… and then turn around and do it.
We shouldn’t have to sacrifice competency in our leaders. Competency is more important than any consonant after their name.
Let’s keep that bar of integrity high.