Hubris and Kerry

The philosopher Aristotle, of Classical Greece, defined hubris as follows:

Hubris consists in doing or saying things that cause shame to the victim,
not in order that anything may happen to you, nor because anything has
happened to you, but merely for your own gratification. Hubris is not the
requital of past injuries; this is revenge. As for the pleasure in hubris, its
cause is this: men think that by ill-treating others they make their own
superiority the greater.

I give Aristotle's definition due to hubris being a Greek word and a powerful theme from the performing arts of ancient Greece. Greek tragedies were often based on a character's hubris --typically a politician-- and the gods giving an attitude adjustment.

In the past few days Senator Kerry has been accused frequently of hubris with the more simple-minded among of us bleeting out the Republican Party theme of "traitor". As an aside, every time I think of this I see in my mind the sheep in the movie Babe bleeting "Wolf" repetitiously and mindlessly. Nothing personal, all you GOPers. LOL

Anyway, as has been EXTENSIVELY reported the past few days, the whole thing was a prewritten joke at Bush's expense that was horribly rendered by Kerry. Was Kerry half asleep? He was really rambling with his delivery. It was more SNL-like than even SNL would dare do.

My real point here isn't Kerry but Martha Stewart. Quite a shift there, I admit. I'm just using Kerry's current foot-in-mouth moment to demonstrate one of my pet peeves. Despite the occasional accusation, I don't think most people believe that Kerry wanted to hurt the feelings of the troups in Iraq --or their families--which is an essental quality of the Greek sense of the word Hubris. Stewart, on the other hand, while lying about her involvement in her insider trading case, was quite willing to throw away the careers of several people to escape justice. And what was she escaping? Paying restitution on the illegal trades she made. Something like $50,000. More than I make in a year, it's true, but not even worth her notice since at the time she was worth over a billion. Now THAT'S hubris.

Making the situation so much worse was when the feds only pursued her lying under oath--a charge she'd not even had to pay a fine for--she still stonewalled them. Many people focused on her standing up for her beliefs and gave her credit for that while she worked away at her minimum security prison. My take on it is that Stewart, like the executives at Enron, totally ignored the shareholders of her company. The stock of Martha Stewart Living (MSO) dropped nearly 80% after the ImClone scandal was revealed. The people that owned stock in MSO were the real losers here since they were faultless. 800 million dollars just vaporized. Gone.

Now it's true the the person that lost the most money in this was Martha Stewart herself. Much of her net worth was wrapped up in her company. However Martha Stewart is wealthy enough to weather out storms like this--many of her stockholders weren't and they had to sell the MSO stock near the bottom of $5/share after buying in the $20s. A huge loss. Today, MSO is once again worth about a billion dollars (50 million shares outstanding with a share price slightly above $20) but many of the original shareholders were burned in the 5 years of shaky financials.

I do admit that the sins, such as they are, of Martha Stewart are minor compared with the upper executives at Enron. Enron intentionally sought to defraud the public, Stewart only hurt shareholders through excessive hubris. Enron's executives deliberately embezzled money from the company and enaged in illegal business actions. Martha Stewart didn't do anything wrong or illegal at Martha Stewart Living--she just quite obviously felt she was above the reach of the law and refused to backdown even when the damage was so bad. Just take a look at the annual report for MSO for 2002 to see what I mean.

Kerry told a so-so joke quite badly; Stewart inadvertly destroyed hundreds of milllions of dollars of shareholder value. Ouch. And tried to implicate several uninvolved people at her investment firm. Nasty!

I rambled around as bad in this post as Kerry did in telling his lame joke.


kenju said…
You kept my interest, though, and that's saying something! I agree with you.
sassyassy said…
I like when you ramble. Besides, it is always intelligent rambling.
sophie said…
It was unfortunate timing for an unfortunate phrase to leave his mouth. I do not think for a moment he intended to insult the troops, and I understand why he did not feel compelled to apologize. However, I think a clarification would have been useful sooner given the partisan gobbledegook that is going on.

Michele says hello.
utenzi said…
Kerry's an idiot. He had to realize as soon as he said the botched joke that he should have done an apology. He's been in politics half his life.
David said…
who would have thought taht the Conservatives 'october surprise' would come from John Kerry's mouth? he never fails to amaze me. For George W it must seem like christmas of 1969 in Cambodia again, or was that '68?
srp said…
Kerry has ketchup all over his face... hope it's not Heinz.

Yes, Max needs a haircut and bath. He is a rescue dog and has trouble letting anyone brush or touch his paws and tummy. Since he becomes hysterical it is easier for them to sedate him for his bath. He goes to sleep, gets everything done and wakes up looking spiffy. THe only problem is that it takes a month to get him an appointment.... longer than for me... (had my hair cut today)...

I love his little wisp of light blond hair on top of his head. It is bone straight while everything else is curly and therefore sticks straight up. He's my little Mohawk man.

He has what would correspond to mycosis fungoides in humans... high-grade lymphoma originating in the skin. Right now, seems to be in remission and we are coming up on a year for diagnosis. As long as he feels good, eats well and plays happy....
Teresa said…
I'm not sure what you are saying here, but I'm certainly not getting in the middle of it -- except that you are right in your last comment about Kerry. He is way too politically minded not to have apologized sooner.
cyndy said…
Kerry should have known better...educated...upper class (way upper class)...and his stubborn elitist refusal to apologize, only then rendered due to political pressure shows me why I HATE politicians!! I am a former U.S. Marine and I found it very offensive...and I am not even republican! Martha Stewart for all her social skills is another one not using her brains...but then again..sometimes I wonder why anyone would think money and power always equals smarts. The wisest man I ever knew was my Lithuanian grandfather who never made it past 3rd grade and was a coal miner.
Paste said…
Nothing wrong with a good bit of rambling!
Here from Michele's today.
Cin said…
As a champion rambler, I have to say I truly appreciated today's post.

And I'm sorry to read you weren't able to get any smarties...

Here from Michele's.

Dave said…
Thanks for popping by Utenzi and I loved your comment :-)
Anonymous said…
Kerry also apologized for his comment. Martha never did.

Michele sent me today.
Aging Fab said…
I love the way you ramble. Most of the time I drift, but you held my attention!


Popular posts from this blog

ankles: the sequel

is my potato breathing?

Bread is Dangerous