Sen. Reid’s crime: Pretending to be a white, old, male, unfunny Margaret Cho.
I cannot pass up an opportunity to come to the defense of Senator Harry Reid regarding a supposed ethical breach that doesn’t exist.
The Democratic Senate leader was addressing the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce, and at one point told the audience, “I don’t think you’re smarter than anybody else, but you’ve convinced a lot of us you are.” Later, when another man named Wong came to the podium, Reid took the microphone and ad-libbed, “One problem I’ve had today is keeping my Wongs straight.”
Look around the web, and you will find some vituperative leftist bloggers and tweeters condemning Donald Rumsfeld as a racist, based on his criticism of Barack Obama. True, any criticism of Barack Obama is presumptively racist—did anyone predict that an unintended consequence of the first black President would be de facto suppression of legitimate political criticism?—-but Rumsfeld, we are told, really proved he’s just like all conservatives, Republicans and teapartiers because he recently said, criticizing the Obama administration’s eminently criticizable policies in Afghanistan:
“A trained ape could get a status of forces agreement. It does not take a genius. And we have so mismanaged that relationship.”
GOTCHA! Comparing a black President to an ape! Proof positive of racial bigotry!
Actually, his friends called him “Alex”…
The Daily Caller believes it has caught the White House in an attempt to erase a Presidential gaffe from history:
“White House officials have quietly changed an official transcript to hide President Barack Obama’s embarrassing historical error during his international press conference with French President Francois Hollande. Obama’s error came when he misnamed Alexis de Tocqueville, a clear-eyed Frenchman who explained the subtle miracle of American culture and democracy in the 1830s. His book is a classic, partly because his insights about Americans’ social equality and civic society have become commonplace among centrists and conservatives. But Obama called him “Alex” in front of the French and U.S. press, and while facing banks of TV cameras. The White House’s official transcript, however, hides the presidential error by using the correct name. It now says that Obama declared: “Alexis de Tocqueville — that great son of France who chronicled our American democracy.
“Obama’s error was slight, but badly timed, partly because Obama is holding a state dinner for Hollande tonight.”
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz:
Is the White House transcript alteration of the President’s shortened version of de Tocqueville’s first name a mere edit of a trivial and immaterial miscue by President Obama (ethical) or an attempted cover-up, as the Daily Caller argues, of “an embarrassment for a President who claims to have been a constitutional scholar, and a judicious student of American history” (unethical)?
My answer: Continue reading
Hey! Get that foot off of your own desk! Who do you think you are, President of the…oh. Right.”
RECONSIDERED: I have been persuaded by the comment thread that followed this post that my initial position regarding Andy Levy’s objections to Stephen Colbert’s use of his critique from “Red-Eye” was mistaken: Colbert was indeed unfair to Levy, and it was unfair as well for me to hold Levy accountable for some of his conservative colleagues’ serious versions of the argument he properly labelled as absurd. Read the comments of James Flood and Ampersand below for the rebuttal that carried the day. As always, I am grateful for the passionate and well-argued perception of Ethics Alarms readers.
If you need more proof of how toxic and infantile the partisan wars are these days, you need search no farther than the manufactured controversy over President Obama’s disrespectful treatment of his own desk. When I first started seeing posts on major websites complaining about the photo of the President putting his foot on his desk in the Oval Office, I decided the controversy was too idiotic to waste time with. But, as is their tendency and their talent, conservatives escalated this one with exquisite gall, and now I have to take note.
This month, and not for the first time, conservatives had the vapors over President Obama being overly casual in his own office and “disrespecting” a desk that was sent to President Garfield by Queen Victoria. (It sure didn’t do him any good) There is only one description of this preposterous complaint that does it justice, and that would be “utter bullshit.” Continue reading
How about scrutinizing the trees, and not the acorns?
Two GOP Congressmen are apologizing for the offensive tweets of their teenage sons, as well they should. But to what extent do the homophobic, racist and otherwise vile social network comment of a couple of high school students with famous fathers tell us anything about their legislator parents? Are such communications newsworthy? Should the kids be exposed to “Gotchas!” as if they were the elected officials, not their dads, and are their indiscretions legitimate clubs for political and journalistic foes to beat their fathers with?
I think these are difficult ethics questions, and I don’t much care for any of them. Let’s examine the ethical conduct of some of the participants in this icky drama: Continue reading