The Kleenex People
The Kleenex People
In the daily struggle, of serving in the public life of elective politics, there are unique individuals who are entitled “The Kleenex People.” “Why so?” you might ask. Because, such types of individuals use people like any of us would do in employing the use of the iconic sanitary product. And like the use of Kleenex, once the item is used, it is discarded, disposed of and forgotten.
It takes a pretty hard bark on an individual to cast off friends and supporters because it is convenient, on a given occasion, to use them as cannon fodder in the daily battles waged in the vineyards of the vote. The discarded individual is left stunned, wondering that an imagined connection of loyalty and friendship was so casually disposed of.
In Washington D.C., it has always been a cliché that if you want to get a friend, “find a dog.” Perhaps it is a cynical reference to how easily friendships and alliances are broken amidst the Kleenex People. And though I have indeed experienced the phenomenon myself, and seen it occur any number of times around me, I have never understood the mentality that so coldly lies behind the behavior.
“What price glory?” is my question. And what type of awful upbringing did these calculating and cold-blooded individuals have that they treat friendship and loyalty so cavalierly? The fable of “Damon and Pythias” was truly not on their lifetime reading list.
In spite of their egregious behavior, one has to have sympathy for the cold and calculating. They will never know the warmth of friends who will give you the shirt off their back if you need it. They will never feel the loyalty of people who will stand in the path of adversity, if they feel you need a hand in a tight situation. And of course, the sure certainty that those around you will discard and dispose of you as well, to get an advantage someplace, is an assured certainty. It must not be pleasant to swim amidst a school of sharks who will gladly take a chomp out of you if it gets them some momentary advantage or reward. You have to look at each of them and wonder when the knife blade will strike and when will it happen? These aren’t any kind of people I would want to be amongst now, though I have done so in the past to my great regret.
It isn’t this way with everyone of course. There are men and women of integrity whose word is their bond. If they say they will stand behind you on an issue, you can count on them to do so regardless of the personal cost involved. It is these wonderful people who make the whole public circus worthwhile. Thoughts of these worthies brighten your day and give you hope that they will surface when needed.
The principles and ideals, of goodness, decency and “doing the right thing,” that we learned as children, mean something. They are the foundation of who and what we are as a nation. And perhaps the cynical might smirk and shake their heads, at the antics of a newly-elected young Lochinvar who is riding forth to battle iniquity and the forces of evil. But many of us will smile and cheer, at the courage, decency and hope that they are triumphant in their quest. As long as one brave soul will raise his voice, in the face of iniquity, there is hope for all of us.
Joseph Xavier Martin