While the probe dominated the news, I continued to go about my business, as did other cabinet members. We had a government to run. Still, you couldn’t ignore the headlines. There was a big elephant in the room, but we didn’t talk about it much.
To Street’s credit, he carried on as though he was having another “great day.” Here was a man under intense scrutiny: All his past financial records were under the forensic microscope, the FBI was combing through his e-mails, and his reputation for honesty was being tarnished by press leaks.
I couldn’t imagine the pressure he felt. Yet I never saw him show it. I admired his composure, and attributed his strength to his spiritual and religious faith, which he didn’t talk about publicly but which was an integral part of his life. I hungered for more, though. I wanted him to speak out forcefully for the need for high ethical standards in government. Whether he was muzzled by his lawyers or was characteristically refusing to play to the crowd, his failure to be proactive cost him the high moral ground. And since perception becomes reality in politics, his credibility suffered, and his effectiveness began to wane.