The New Nixon

You got to hand it to Harvey Pitt. He’s got balls.

Harvey L. Pitt, in his first public speech since resigning as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, called on Wall Street executives today to restore investor confidence and said he hoped his successor would be spared the personal and political attacks that he said contributed to his downfall.

Sounding a resentful chord but keeping his tone even, Mr. Pitt alluded to his troubles only in the closing of his speech, which he gave to the Securities Industry Association’s annual meeting here.

“It’s easy to find fault and it’s easy to criticize,” he said during the speech. “In a partisan environment, criticism often devolves into attack. This doesn’t help anyone. In fact, it’s not just unproductive, it’s counterproductive.”

Taking a page from Richard M. Nixon’s resignation speech 28 years ago, Mr. Pitt concluded by echoing a quotation from Theodore Roosevelt that began: “It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doers of deeds could have done better.”

He said nothing about how he had handled the appointment of William H. Webster to head an accounting oversight board. Mr. Webster, former director of the F.B.I. and central intelligence, had served as the chairman of the audit committee of U.S. Technologies, a small company that has been accused of fraud and is nearly insolvent. Mr. Webster said he had briefed Mr. Pitt about some accusations against the company, but Mr. Pitt did not share that information with other commissioners before they voted on the appointment, prompting widespread criticism.

I wonder what it must be like to live without a moral center; to be a black hole for ethics?

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Yeah. Like I would tell you....