Romney has already started acting as if he were president. Responding to the Secret Service scandal in Colombia, his knee-jerk reaction was: “Fire them!” (link)
This is the completely sane response. When someone abuses their power, they no longer have any right to that power.
What’s interesting is the response from the left: The agents weren’t responsible for their actions (Colombian prostitutes are too attractive), the agents shouldn’t be held accountable for a minor moral lapse (prostitution is no crime), the agents should be given a chance to redeem themselves (we should not judge others; forgive first).
These are all the wrong answers.
If people are not held accountable for the things they do, then they won’t act responsibly. In my line of work, if I write crappy code that causes damage, I am held responsible. There is no forgetting of past lapses. After all, if the site’s down, and revenue isn’t flowing into the company, people will lose their job. In the case of the secret service agents, they engaged in an activity that could compromise the life of the person they were sworn to protect. That’s a much weightier crime than bankrupting a company.
Prostitution is not a minor moral lapse, and even minor moral lapses such as overlooking a small thing should not be held lightly. On the scale of stupid things to do with your free time, soliciting prostitutes is way near the top. I hopefully don’t have to expound why, but inevitably, there are readers who are so morally broken they cannot understand why it is such a serious matter. Put simply, sexual relationships create life, and sexual relationships outside of marriage have the potential of creating life outside of marriage. At the very least, it breaks the hearts of the spouses and children, and sets a dangerous moral pattern that can overthrow entire civilizations. I am sure the agents knew that prostitution was not a good idea. It is certainly against the military code of conduct.
Even minor moral lapses, such as overlooking someone who doesn’t attend to their duties, or ignoring a few dollars that go missing, can lead to bigger problems. If you handle minor moral lapses before they become serious, you never have serious moral lapses.
Redemption is a complicated topic. We can’t simply go around ignoring people’s behavior and giving them a second chance when there are better people lined up ready to take the job. When you have a job opening, you take the best person for the job, and lapses of judgment move you down the list of qualified people for your job. The Secret Service is supposed to be the elite of the elite, the group of men who have shown themselves to be absolutely honorable and trustworthy, and without any entanglements that might cause a conflict of interest. It is also a ceremonial position, one of the highest honors a marine corpsman can hope to achieve, much as standing guard at the various memorials. If any member of these positions of highest honor act even the least bit way dishonorably, the honor of the position demands that they be replaced.
Mitt Romney will be known as the “You’re Fired” president. That’s what he did at failing companies. He went in, took names, kicked butt, and turned things around. Everyone who acts responsibly should look forward to having him as the commander in chief.
Let me tell you, in the federal government, we need a whole lot of people fired.