"The buck stops with me. That is why I have made this change in management."
Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, announcing someone else's departure.
"OK, guys, everybody listen up -- we've got a lot on our agenda this morning. I know it's been a difficult few days for all of you, but -- "
"You ever see so many reporters? They're practically camped out downstairs!"
"Hey, you know how those guys are -- they'd run their own mothers down for a story."
"Especially about us."
"Duh! But that's why we've got the tough skin, right? So we can push right past these kinds of problems. Now -- "
"Typical blood-in-the-water stuff."
"No! There's no blood in the water! If I've told you once, I've told you a hundred times: There's no blood in the water! We've got it all under control."
"Uh, Mr. Chairman...?"
"Totally under control."
"Well, we're seeing a pretty significant dip in our fundraising, particularly since the...the..."
"Right. Since the 'incident.'"
"Perfectly understandable. Our donors want to know we're using their money appropriately, not throwing it away at some highly inappropriate...at some..."
"At some questionable..."
"'Location' -- that's the word! We can't be having these sorts of 'incidents' at these sorts of 'locations.' Makes us look like hypocrites with the family-values crowd."
"Hey, lesbian sex slaves have families, too, don't they?"
"Good one! But seriously -- "
"'The family that whips together -- "
" -- takes trips together!"
"Very funny. But seriously, I think we can all agree that that was dumb. And then putting it in for reimbursement? Really dumb!"
"And then approving it? Totally dumb! How could they -- "
"That's water under the bridge, people. Our job is to get back on track -- start moving forward again. Which is why I called this meeting. We really need to shake things up."
"No, no interruptions right now -- I need to say what's on my mind. And what's on my mind is: accountability. We can't expect the RNC to do its job, keep people's trust, unless they know we're holding ourselves accountable for our actions."
"Very true, Mr. Chairman."
"Besides, we've got a lot of big battles coming up this November, and we're gonna need to be totally focused, no distractions. Anything that takes us off message is bad news."
"We just can't have it."
"Couldn't agree more, Mr. Chairman."
"And the buck stops with me -- I totally understand that. The leader takes the heat."
"Well, we'll certainly miss you."
"You bet you will. Because you're out! And you're out! And the three of you -- out! You've got an hour to clear out your desks. And -- "
"But you said you'd take the heat!"
"Exactly! You think it's easy firing all of you?"
"But -- "
"I can just imagine all those stories the next few days: 'Steele forced to clean house.' 'Steele's office in disarray.' 'Steele this,' 'Steele that.' You have no idea what a pain it is, seeing your name in the headlines all the time."
"We never noticed you minding it all that much."
"Just part of the job, folks. Same as this is."
"So we're leaving? And you're staying?"
"If heads are gonna roll, better yours than mine -- you know what I'm saying?"
"Why, you piece of -- !"
"Leadership in action, gentlemen. Leadership in action."
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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