Set forth below is the text of a comment that I recently posted to the discussion thread for one of my columns at the Value Walk site:
You should be ashamed of your treatment of Jack Bogle.
Say that you worked in the Nixon White House during the Watergate years. Say that you were in on the meetings where Nixon made clear that he was going to engage in felonies to block the investigation. Say that you loved the man. Do you think that as a friend you should have spoken up and told him that he was going down a dark path or do you think that as a friend you should have kept it zipped because you knew that it would hurt his feelings if you urged him to come clean?
Nixon did many great things. He opened relations with China. He took us off the gold standard. He ended the war in VIetnam. He expanded the Great Society programs enacted by Johnson. He won one of the biggest landslides in U.S. electoral history. And what is he most remembered for? He is most remembered for his corruption. He said in an interview that he really did have enemies but that he was the one who handed them the knife that brought him down.
Bogle is responsible for his own behavior. He is a great man who has ruined millions of lives. I am 100 percent certain that he feels very bad about it. He shows that in all his writings (I learned about the errors in the Old School retirement studies by reading Bogle’s book — he drops hints all the time about how dangerous a strategy Buy-and-Hold is). But I don’t think it is being fair to my good friend Jack Bogle to say that he is SOLELY responsible for what he has done to himself.
We live in communities. None of us is perfect, we all make mistakes. We depend on our friends to set us straight when acknowledging a mistake becomes too painful for us. We have failed Jack Bogle. We all should have spoken up when we saw what was happening. Too many of us wanted to make a buck by winning his favor and so we rationalized not speaking up. We hurt the man in very serious ways through our cowardice.
I don’t just SAY that I love Jack Bogle, Sammy. I SHOW it. I show it every time that I insist that he take a walk to the front of a big room and say the words “I” and “Was” and “wrong” and invite a reporter from the New York Times to attend the event and write it up on the front page and thereby bring this horrible 34-year cover-up to an end. I am Jack Bogle’s true friend. You are an enabler. You are hurting the man with every abusive post that you put forward.
That’s my sincere take. If I make a mistake, I want my friends to tell me and demand that I fix it even if I am too emotional to immediately see the need to do so. I don’t want to go to these dark places. I count on my friends to save me from my worst inclinations. The only thing that I feel ashamed of is the three years when I like so many others who call themselves friends of Jack Bogle failed to speak up out of cowardice (I knew about the errors in the Old School retirement studies in 1999 and I failed to speak up until 2002).
We all have to live with ourselves. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do what I could to help out this giant who has done so much good for so many.
I naturally wish you all good things.