Notes on the Atrocities Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...
Sunday, June 08, 2003
240 words about Martha Stewart
The Martha Stewart situation's an odd one, isn't it? Everyone's of two minds. On the one hand, she's a wonderfully successful businesswoman, she ran a profitable and well-run business that, by all accounts produced products people really wanted. On the other hand, she was prickly and vain, much like many other CEOs. And the X-factor, of course: she's a woman.
So, to greet her recent indictment with joy or tears or (as in my case) discomfort? As a woman, we want her to succeed. I mean, why not? No one ever judged Jack Welch by whether or not he was likeable. Just whether he created a juggernaut. But Martha, a woman, must create a juggernaut and be pleasant. Otherwise, somehow, it's poor form.
Along with this is the likelihood that she engaged in fraud and obstruction of justice. Now, on this issue, we can feel guilt-free in our opinion that if she did the crime, she should do the time. If she held up a 7-11, she'd be going away, so why does being the queen of domesticity excuse her from securities fraud? Martha calls it personal--and maybe the relish with which her pursuers smack their lips is personal--but dumping stock was her call. If she's exonerated, we'll really have something to talk about. But now, we can just feel sad that a successful businesswoman didn't keep her nose clean. Fortunately, she won't be the last successful businesswoman.