I cannot even begin to imagine the grief and heartache you must be experiencing. You undoubtedly took great pride in your husband’s hugely successful career, only to see it all implode by bankruptcy, scandal and a conviction. I’m sure you admired your late husband’s frequent expressions of faith and consistent declarations that he did nothing wrong. And I’ll bet that you had total belief in your husband when he testified that Enron’s legal woes were largely orchestrated by Andy Fastow, the company’s CFO who turned against your husband and testified against him in exchange for a lighter prison sentence.
I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am.
I’m sorry for a culture that seemed to enjoy turning your husband into a demon, even in death. I believe that type of demonizing is fueled by a media that loves to watch wealthy, powerful people squirm. I think that lots of people get some sort of sick satisfaction when a person like your husband is humbled in a very public way. Over the past few years, turning the Ken Lays and the Dick Grassos and the Martha Stewarts of the world into evil, corrupt, scheming monsters has become a sort of ritual in our country, hasn’t it?
Obviously I was never behind closed doors with your late husband, or Fastow, or any of the other top level executives of Enron. I suppose none of us will ever really know the truth. I do know, however, that many people admired your husband, a guy who emerged from an impoverished childhood and became a self-made man, a true master of industry, a titan of the business world. I’ve read stories of his philanthropy, the way he liked to give generously to various causes in the Houston area and beyond. True, he was never described as much of a warm and fuzzy type of person, but someone who created a company that employed thousands of people and became something that was once described as a real American success story.
Many will wonder why I feel such compassion for your husband – and you. The answer is simple: I believed him when he said that he entrusted too much to Fastow but didn’t realize he was doing anything wrong. I’ve seen firsthand how the business world works, the enormous pressure to hit the numbers and make all the projections happen. I can envision a tough taskmaster CEO expecting his CFO to get the job done, yet never expecting that he’d break the law to do so.