Stare down at your feet. Pay attention to them. Don’t let them out of your sight.
We’re not concerned with fashion here. Spend whatever you want on socks and shoes.
We’re concerned with where you go and who it is you’re stepping on. Those acts may define more about you than you think.
We are well into the era of Long Memories. They don’t die easily, some potentially embedded online forever.
Some of the dead aren’t as far gone as you might think. Their causes live on. Cases that arose out of their misfortune continue. Evidence that you never heard of — like DNA — can revive a homicide, which in turn can reveal an embezzlement. Then, new documents turn up. It sounded like an accident once upon a time. No longer.
If you are “important,” you’re in more danger than you think. Whom might you have caused to be fired, harassed, downsized or forgotten? You may think perhaps they deserved it. Perhaps not. It’s not just friends and family who cared for the next month or so. There are others who might be interested in the secrets others thought you took with you.
Consider the now-famous NDA — the “non-disclosure” agreement. The existence of such evidence suggests a secret worth telling or a wrongdoing worth righting.
The MeToo movement has upended the NDA. So has the ease of self-publishing, as well as the bravery of those willing to take the risk.
Plenty of smoothly-written TV shows are awash in past acts now attracting a second look. But reality confronts us, though not always as well written. Take the case of Marie Yovanovitch, until recently the U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine. A career diplomat, she was assured of attracting little attention in such a faraway spot.
Then along came a gang consisting of a President Trump and a lawyer, Giuliani, bent on its own political agenda. Yovanovitch and a host of other diplomats for a time wondered what was going on with a Congressionally-mandated aid bill for the country in its continuing battle with Russia.
They didn’t have to wait long. A few feet got so heavy that they tripped over each other. They created a trail of evidence. Reports emerged that they were looking for statements from the Ukraine that Joe Biden and his son should be investigated for “corruption.” That’s all they needed. Foul the nest and get the hell out.
Now, Yovanovitch, set to testify before Congress, has her own fan club. All because Trump apparently miscalculated that if he walked all over her and kicked her out of the way, all would be forgotten, or that the gang could cover its dirty work by taking the old “No Collusion” script and updating it to “No Quid Pro Quo.”
Rex Tillerson, the ex-secretary of state who got in the way of Trump’s shoes, hasn’t said much — yet. But he is reported to have called Trump a moron, which left many State Department lifers smiling. They will be around long after Trump is gone.
Real people are being hurt, even though some have new book contracts. They don’t forget. Trump has flocks of people listening In on phone calls. Now, they’re creating a new definition of “perfection.”
Meanwhile, look at poor Giuliani. He reached the high point of his life when, as mayor of New York, he rallied his city after 9/11. Did he realize that would be the high point of his life? Vanity and technology overtook him. He did not watch where he was going, or who got stepped on along the way.
These are some of the largest examples of people who have gone wrong and possibly done wrong. You’d think they’d know better. Where are the Richard Nixon-era “plumbers”when they need them?
Life can be a rumble involving hierarchy, and the mad scramble to the “top” of fame or fortune. You’ve heard of truth or consequences? One important byproduct of wrongdoing is that as it increases, our likelihood to believe tales of wrongdoing also rises.
Past episodes create future road maps. There’s a reason so many TV talk programs invite commentary from John Dean (Nixon’s one-time young White House lawyer). He’s an eyewitness to a familiar road. He’s been there, done that, and seen that.
Every local city has its own examples of power gone wrong in a quest for the top of the pack. In Aspen, scores of employees get kicked aside by employers we think should know better. Then, later in life, they meet again, when life turns miserable for the one-time employer who forgot what the ex-employee remembered. Perhaps they battle in a rumble over private property, or meet when the ex-employer is trying to ram a big development through a loophole. Now the employee sits on a board or commission whose approval is necessary.
At one time, combatants would keep their one-time tangle between them. No longer. Today, such prior history comes back because character is a defining rule, and that produces testimony.
History (and philosopher George Santayana) tell us that those who “don’t remember history are condemned to repeat it.” We can see some of the condemned walking around. They once posed as pillars — examples of good conduct. But they failed to keep track of where they headed with their heavy shoes or upon whom they stepped in the process. Today they are diminished.