Watching YouTube clips of Joe Biden praising Jon Corzine would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad. Jon Corzine was a big contributor/fund raiser for Obama and Biden four years ago, and all the lavish praise was given before Corzine destroyed MF Global in his six-month tenure as CEO last year. He gambled away over a Billion Dollars of client money and cost 1,700 employees their jobs. As you will see in the videos, Biden claims that Jon Corzine is the smartest man he has ever met. “He’s the first person I call when I have a problem!” I would hate to think he actually believes that, but the ringing endorsement of Corzine was obligatory. Corzine had paid for it with the money he had raised for the Obama campaign.
This sort of theatre is common in politics, but I wonder if politicians ever consider the collateral damage caused by their actions and words. Of course the Board at MF Global would want such a visionary and brilliant leader, as their CEO. And why wouldn’t investors want to do business with his firm. Their confidence was high, but terribly misplaced, and now they realize that all they had was a sophisticated con man at the helm.
At this time it appears that Corzine may never be held accountable for his actions. He may have violated security regulations but apparently that is not a criminal offense. His friends on Wall Street and in Politics will probably insulate him from any meaningful punishment.
This isn’t about Republicans vs. Democrats; or the Right vs. the Left, it’s about right and wrong. The lack of true leadership in both the Public and Private sector has a “trickle down effect” that does little to give us confidence in our future. J.F.K. said 50 years ago, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” What a contrast with all the promises today’s politicians make about what the government will do for us.
Americans are hungry for real leadership, leaders with a vision of the future. Leaders who are able to inspire and motivate others to do their best. History has shown us that great leaders seem to emerge when all else seems to be lost. Lincoln, Churchill, Kennedy, Reagan, they all had one thing in common: they put country before self.
We have all experienced the power of great leadership in our personal lives. You may have been motivated and inspired by a loving parent, a great teacher, a coach, or a historical figure. The individual experiences may differ but the result is the same. We were inspired to do better, to do something meaningful, to make a difference. And great leaders never ask for anything in return other than our best effort.