The Edmond Sun

June 7, 2013

HEY HINK: Trading good name for promotion is pitiful

Mike Hinkle
Special to The Sun

EDMOND — Before we get started, let me say a word about anger management. For years, I was a frequent participant in unprotected road rage between consenting adults. Until my wife Mary pointed out an important common denominator. I assumed the hungrier I got, the ruder the motoring public became. Now, I realize when I get hungry, my “rudeness tolerance index” plummets and I get surly. Now I eat a snack to guard against some (not all) of these “road rage triggers.”

As a corollary, I try to eat something before I watch or read the news. This doesn’t stop me from going “ballistic” sometimes, but I’m convinced a protein bar exerts some level of moderating influence.

This week, researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California, San Francisco released a study indicating that research subjects provoked to anger exhibited a smaller rise in heart rate if they simply talked about their feelings. Subjects who became angry and didn’t talk about it demonstrated elevated heart rates and presumably, shorter emotional fuses. According to Karim Kassam, Ph.D, one of the principal researchers from Mellon University, “Essentially, we’re asking people how they’re feeling and finding that doing so has a sizable impact on their cardiovascular response.”

I mention all this anger stuff because I want you to know I’ve had a snack — two in fact — just to be on the safe side. I spent a few minutes meditating and I completely ventilated my feelings before I sat down to write this column.

Now let’s talk about Susan Rice’s promotion to National Security Advisor. The background is well-known. On Sept. 11, 2012, our diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was overrun in a preplanned attack by Islamic militants affiliated with Al Qaeda. Our ambassador and three other brave Americans died in the attack.

Rice was chosen to be the voice of the U.S. government charged with explaining the situation to the American people. She appeared on five Sunday news programs telling her fellow Americans that the Benghazi tragedy was the result of a demonstration at the compound that got out of hand. She suggested the triggering event was the release of a video regarded by some Islamists as unbearably offensive. The storyline Rice articulated, again and again, was a gross distortion known at the highest levels of the American government to be absolutely bogus.

Giving Rice the benefit of the doubt, here’s what we conclude: She took an oath — like all government employees — to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States. She did not take a secret oath to pledge her unyielding loyalty to a political party nor to a specific individual. The oath she took committed her fidelity to the United States. Let’s assume she took that oath to heart. Let’s assume she applied her strength, her intellect and her abilities to fulfilling her duties to the American people.

Let’s assume when she went before the cameras that Sunday morning she wasn’t harboring a secret intent to deceive. Let’s assume she told the truth to the best of her abilities. Let’s assume she believed the American people, relying on her for the facts, were receiving the best information their government had to offer at the time. Let’s assume she was duped. She didn’t know she was being used as a tool of deception. She didn’t realize that someone in the administration was perfectly content to allow her to sacrifice her precious reputation in the service of some deceitful agenda. Let’s assume Rice, right along with the rest of us, was “had.”

If she was a guiltless pawn what would a principled person do when she learns the truth? Would she simply shrug her shoulders and stand by with outstretched hand waiting for the “quid pro quo?” Once she realizes she’s been the agent of deception and distortion shouldn’t she do something to clear the record? If Rice believes along with millions of her fellow Americans, that, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches,” what steps should she take now that her reputation has been trashed through no fault of her own?

Even if Rice was totally innocent in the first instance, her behavior now is just sad. She appears to be willing to trade her precious reputation for a high profile promotion. This career boost has the unsavory appearance of base compensation for the good name she lost that Sunday. I feel sorry for her. I feel sorry for us all. I guess, all things considered, that’s better than being furious. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.


MIKE HINKLE is an Edmond resident and retired attorney.