“The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that.”
—CNBC’s financial guru Larry Kudlow, discussing the economic implications of the Japanese earthquake and its aftermath—a legitimate topic—while giving an instructive demonstration of how tunnel-vision and focus on one objective above all else can disable an ethics alarm, momentarily, or even permanently.
The quote speaks for itself, but here are a few comments:
- Kudlow will apologize and say that he didn’t mean it. At the moment he said it, in fact, he did mean it. I have no doubts about that at all.
- What this statement implies is not unusual. What is unusual is that it was spoken on the air.
- Because Kudlow is a conservative, expect this quote to be held up as an example of innate conservative callousness. In fact, we all are guilty of this kind of thought, when there is a topic, mission or objective that we are extremely dedicated to and focused on. When the World Trade Center was bombed, my theater company was premiering a new musical that I had directed, scheduled to open that week. I remember thinking to myself, “Thank goodness this happened now and not later in the week.” Later, I learned that other members of the company and productions had thought the same thing.
- If all of the bloggers, journalists and talking heads who will now paint Kudlow as an unfeeling monster would think back and recall the times their values were similarly warped by passion or tunnel vision, they might temper their criticism, because it would be fair to use his statement as a lesson for all of us, rather than present it as proof of Kudlow’s special callousness. They won’t, however, because they are not interested in being fair.
- One has to wonder, though, why Kudlow didn’t get at least a little <ding!> from his muted ethics alarm when he heard this come out of his mouth.