[I’m back from Colorado Springs, and as usual after that trip, momentarily cheered, encouraged and inspired by my experience discussing ethics with sheep farmer-legislators from Montana, surfer-legislators from Hawaii and other ordinary, diverse, dedicated, honest and smart Americans of all political persuasions who just want to do good things for their neighbors, communities, state and nation. This is, I think, what Mr. Jefferson and his friends had in mind. The annual training program for recently-elected state legislators run by the Council of State Governments is just marvelous—if only every legislator starting out could go through it (especially this really neat half-day ethics seminar a bald guy teaches). In case you are wondering, the ACA despair, disgust and mockery was coming from both sides of the aisle—I did mention they were honest, right? And, obviously, not from Washington, DC. If we’re lucky, a lot of them will be here in a few years.]
Now I’m trying to catch up—those few posts from Colorado Springs were by necessity early in the morning and late at night, and on less than earth-shattering topics. Sadly, the current Ethics Train Wreck involving the roll-out of Obamacare—-a rare example of one that could have and should have been seen coming years ago, and that some of us did see, and clearly—has only become worse. The integrity test that I announced three weeks ago also continues to produce dispiriting results. I hope to do a summary of both the wreckage and the test eventually, but in the meantime, the Obamacare Ethics Trainwreck continues to pick up passengers who are flunking the Ethics Alarms Integrity Test in the process.
Since I have other topics, large and small, to cover on Ethics Alarms, the most reliable, exhaustive and amusing way to follow the train wreck as it rolls on, leaving chaos and broken dreams in its wake, is Prof. Glenn Reynolds’ mega-blog, one of the first and most popular of the politically conservative, Instapundit. I’m sorry, but it is beyond dispute: the liberal blogs are still in denial, and the mainstream media (as we shall shortly see) is still drowning in rationalizations and spin. Prof. Reynolds is also funny, if merciless; for example, he made coffee come out my nose this morning with his arch comment on a link he provided about a Syrian terrorist who inadvertently beheaded the wrong victim. He wrote, “If you like your head, you can keep your head.”
No public personality has been a more loyal supporter of President Obama than Oprah Winfrey. Mix Oprah’s tendency to make up facts and ignore others she finds inconvenient, her fondness for race-baiting, and the desperation of a partisan who is unwilling to admit that what’s wrong is wrong, and you get this despicable comment, when Oprah spoke about the President in a BBC interview this week:
“There’s a level of disrespect for the office that occurs. And that occurs in some cases and maybe even many cases because he’s African American. There’s no question about that and it’s the kind of thing nobody ever says but everybody’s thinking it.”
There have been significant cases of disrespect for the office of the President, like Rep. Wilson’s “You lie,” but the disrespect for Obama’s handling of his office has been overwhelmingly earned by a stunning series of gaffes, lies, incompetent actions, and instances of incompetent oversight, management, politics and leadership. The technique of ascribing criticism of this President to racism on the part of his critics has been the Democrat’s not-so secret weapon—one that is as morally wrong and destructive in political warfare as nerve gas is in actual warfare—from the start, and it has finally reached the point of diminishing returns, where the hypocrisy is too ludicrous to miss. Chris Matthews has been the champion of this unethical practice at MSNBC, where crying “Racism!” is like a network motto, and yet he recently agreed with a guest that Obama doesn’t know how to do his job, and has just one relevant skill, which is oratory. A similar diagnosis by Obama critics would be (and has been) assailed by Matthews and his colleagues as proof of the racial bias of Republicans.
Meanwhile, Oprah’s claim that “nobody” makes this scurrilous accusation is either a lie or proof of a closed head injury with temporary amnesia. If there is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who hasn’t made the same accusation in a public statement, I’d be surprised. Harry Belafonte, Morgan Freeman and other black celebrities have said it, and as I just noted, it is a virtual mantra on MSNBC. The perception of Oprah and others that the President has suffered unusual (by recent standards) or unprecedented disrespect is, furthermore, a classic example of selective recollection. Does she, for example, recall any mainstream comic attacking Obama the way her pal Whoopi Goldberg attacked George W. Bush in 2004, in a routine that lost her a spokesperson deal with Slim-Fast? Classy Whoopi said,
“That’s why I’m here tonight. Because I love bush. But someone’s giving bush a bad name. Someone has tarnished name of `bush.’ Someone has waged war, someone has deliberately misled the country, someone has attempted to amend the constitution, all in the name of bush. The bush I know and cherish would never do such things. My bush is smarter than that. And if my bush is smarter than that, you can understand just how dumb I think that other bush is. And anyone who would wave to Stevie Wonder is not fully there. I will do whatever it takes to restore bush to its rightful place and that ain’t in the White House. Vote your heart and mind and keep bush where it belongs.”
For the record, the President whose critics set all records for unconscionable disrespect was Bill Clinton, and it’s no contest. The viciousness of attacks on President Bush, which included fantasies about his assassination, also exceeded anything President Obama has experienced, in part because the constant threat of racism accusations has stifled dissent. Oprah’s position, like that of MSNBC, is that criticism of a leader whom a critic believes is an ineffective and incompetent President may be sincere if that President is white (or Republican), but racist if that President is black (and the critic is white). Got that?
Oprah deserves a an extra black mark for cowardice for making her despicable charge on the BBC rather than on a U.S. outlet.
Still, I believe that the Obamacare bitter-ender that has done itself and its profession the most damage is the New York Times, whose crumbling mantle as the standard of American journalism has may finally be rubble by the time this crisis is over. True, it may be slowly coming around to admitting the truth, but too far, too late to preserve its credibility as an objective news source, in my view. First the paper engaged in blatant spin by writing that Obama “misspoke” when he repeated his “you can keep it” deception for more than three years. Then, after being roundly ridiculed for engaging in Jay Carney-worthy spin rather than objective journalism, it changed its euphemism of choice to the even sillier term, “incorrect promise.” (As I have already pointed out, this was not a promise.)
That, however, was trivial compared to yesterday’s Times front page story, “Health Law Rollout’s Stumbles Draw Parallels to Bush’s Hurricane Response.” I read it on the 5 hour trek home yesterday, and frightened the woman next to me on the plane by shouting out, “What?”
Law professor-blogger Ann Althouse did such a spot-on job obliterating this dishonest, ahistorical and biased comparison—which I diagnose as a desperate “He did it too!” rationalization from the Times—that I will turn it over to her. You should read all of it. Prof. Althouse does this sort of thing as well as anyone:
I can think of a whole bunch of non-parallels:
1. Bush’s political party didn’t design and enact Hurricane Katrina.
2. Bush didn’t have 5 years to craft his response to the hurricane.
3. Bush didn’t have the power to redesign the hurricane as he designed his response to it.
4. The Republican Bush believed he could not simply bully past the Democratic Mayor of New Orleans and the Democratic Governor of Louisiana and impose a federal solution, but the Democrat Obama and his party in Congress aggressively and voluntarily took over an area of policy that might have been left to the states.
5. The media were ready to slam Bush long and hard for everything — making big scandals out of things that, done by Obama, would have been forgotten a week later (what are the Valerie Plame-level screwups of Obama’s?) — but the media have bent over backwards for years to help make Obama look good and to bury or never even uncover all of his lies and misdeeds.
6. If Bush experienced a disaster like the rollout of Obamacare, the NYT wouldn’t use its front page to remind us of something Bill Clinton did that looked bad.
….But think about it this way, NYT. What if Bush and the Republicans had created the hurricane, and the Democrats adamantly believed it would be better not to have a hurricane? Would the Democrats have been “occasionally cooperative” to Republicans who smugly announced that they won the election and they’ve been wanting this hurricane for 100 years and canceling the hurricane was not an option?
Graphic: Queenie Longly