As the end of the year approaches, the Duffy era comes to a close. This is sad for all of us who need pre-packaged excuses for all our transgressions. Senator Mike Duffy was our hero. The George Costanza of the Red Chamber. Mike is a true role model for dismissing bad behaviour. He is the master of the ol' "if I had known" school of excuses.
In a Seinfeld episode, George is fired for having sex with the cleaning lady on his desk. His response when challenged by his boss?
"Was that wrong? Should I not have done that? I tell you, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing is frowned upon... you know, cause I've worked in a lot of offices, and I tell you, people do that all the time."
So, although the subject of the Duffy trial is money and not office sex, the senator's reasoning is the same. I have no reason to believe that the senator strayed carnally and thank goodness for that. Believe me -- that would be a vision of sugar plums that I could do without.
Duffy's defence -- which I will refer to as "The Costanza" -- may become a standard courtroom tactic should his lawyers succeed. This new legal principle would hold that one is innocent unless the law, social behaviour and even etiquette are explicitly explained in advance in each case. Come to think of it, no one in authority has ever told me that I must stop at stop signs. I don't recall having been told not to eat with my hands at formal dinners.
The Costanza principle will save me from having to generalize the rules of living. While this will be exhausting at times, it will surely save me from the consequences of my behaviour. "If I had only been told," will be my new mantra.
Without that principle, one would be expected to know that mixing senate and political party business is wrong. Taxpayers don't expect that they should foot the bill for political fundraising events. They will, however, once they understand The Costanza.
Before The Costanza, personal and business expenses were not the same thing. Today, they are. Need a family vacation? Bill your employer. Thanks, Costanza!
Come to think of it, my cottage could use a little renovating. Did I say cottage? Sorry, I meant my principal residence. Thanks, Costanza!
It may very well be that senator Duffy will be acquitted. My legal training is equal to my education in nuclear physics -- nil. But should that happen, I hope the judge takes the opportunity to give him the same common-sense lecture that most parents would give their children -- just because your friends are doing something does not mean you have to, too.
In this case, I suppose Duffy would have jumped off the metaphorical cliff. After all, many of his friends already seem to have done so. And besides, no one told him explicitly not to.
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