In Tuesday's Tracy Press, commentator Larry Hite (see the Voice section) reminds us that not all mistakes by government officials are evidence of malfeasance. To that end, he recommends we essentially take our leaders at their word when they say "Trust us." Unfortunately, that's not enough.
It's a Pollyanna view to think that all our leaders are trustworthy. Just in the past two months we've learned that the FBI and the Bush administration — who said "trust us, we won't misuse this power," when the Patriot Act was passed — have indeed abused the powers granted by that legislation. In fact, it's those who say "trust me, don't bother with meaningful oversight" who are usually the ones we need to watch most closely.
Larry's right in saying that not all mistakes are unethical. But our leaders can only be trusted to the extent that we can see for ourselves what they are doing. Without laws that guarantee public oversight and transparency, there's no way we can tell for ourselves if mistakes are indeed honest.
A promise from politicians that they won't do anything wrong simply isn't enough. Would that it were.