Several Republican politicians leapt on the “Welcome Home Bowe!” bandwagon without bothering to a) learn the details and more importantly to them, sadly, b) gauge the reaction of their constituents, contributers and supporters. Thus they tweeted praise for his release, perhaps echoing Obama’s designated liar Susan Rice’s unsupported assertion that he has served with honor, or evoking the Administration’s now discarded spin that he was a hero. When the transaction was revealed to be an utter botch by the Obama Administration (but I repeat myself), and the GOP officials realized that it would be partisan feeding time in the shark tank, these brave public servants had neither the forthrightness to admit their errors, if errors they were, nor the courage to face the consequences.
Nor, unfortunately for them, the technological savvy to realize that trying to cover up what you put on the internet doesn’t work.
And makes you look like an untrustworthy sneak.
The Sunlight Foundation has a service called “Politwoops,” which collects elected officials’ tweets and makes them available if they are deleted in an effort to remove feet from mouths. It uncovered this, from Republican Senator Thad Cochran…
and this, from GOP Congressman Jim Renacci…
and this, from the GOP’s Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst…
…all efforts to hide the fact that the Presidential deal they initially praised had some rather significant problems, prime among them being the dubious conduct of its central figure, so they needed to pretend that they were opposed to it all along lest they miss an opportunity to pile on with everyone else.
Buzzfeed found another example in Nebraska’s Rep. Terry Lee, who pulled this off his Facebook page:
Admitting and explaining a mistake is fair, responsible and ethical. Changing one’s mind in the wake of new information is not only ethical, but often necessary. Trying to eliminate the evidence of a hasty judgment made on the basis of inadequate data, however, is manipulative, dishonest and cowardly. That’s what all of these Republicans did.
In the cases of Lee, Cochran and Ernst, I think what they did was even worse. None of their statements were inappropriate. Even if, as appears probable, Bergdahl went AWOL, he still placed himself in harm’s way in service of his country. Thanking him for that (as in Cochran’s tweet) may be extravagant if it turns out he intentionally abandoned his comrades in arms, but is nothing to be ashamed of. Ernst apparently wants to take back “thoughts and prayers” for Bergdahl’s family. Nice. I can’t see anything wrong, even now, with Lee’s post. As Charles Lane wrote in the Washington Post in the most balanced and reasonable media piece about this mess files so far, it’s difficult to “figure out what Obama’s critics think he should have done about Bergdahl — let him rot forever in Taliban custody?”
(Presumably the answer is, “No, but don’t negotiate with terrorists to get him back, use his release as a cynical political ploy to counter the VA scandal, hold a Rose Garden ceremony for this dubious captive when no other families of more honorable Afghanistan combatants have been similarly fêted, send designated liar Susan Rice back on TV to misrepresent his service, trade five potentially deadly terrorists for him, and—hmmm, what else? Oh, yeah—disobey the law in the process.”)
So Lee, Cochran and Ernst removed fairly benign and even appropriate statements, just so they could express outrage without any mitigating sentiments, however kind or genuine. Of the four, only Rep. Renacci’s tweet appears to be a genuine gaffe. So what? He could tweet that he was mistaken, or that he changed his mind, or even that he was wrong.
That would be honest.
What a concept.
Source: Washington Post
8 thoughts on “Ethics Dunces: The Republican Un-Tweeters”
Honesty? In a politician? You’re joking, right? Sad, I know, that this is my first response.
Why does this happen so often?
Low fear of consequences?
Contempt for the public?
Low information voters?
Lack of integrity?
The “everybody gets a prize” culture of the tweeter generation?
Why this happens so often, wyogranny, is that social media has given people (including politicians) something well beyond the right to say something stupid. It has given them a 5 million watt megaphone with which to do so.
We live in a time in which everyone – media outlets, politicians, celebrities, sports figures and just plain average joes – have concluded that it’s advantageous to be the first to get out there, hang the consequences.
One would hope that this situation sufficiently underscores the risks that others might be a bit more circumspect in the future; being first, but wrong, is only temporarily (if at all) better than being correct. I’m sure we agree that wisdom includes thinking about what we say before we say it. Unfortunately, there’s apparently no app for that.
My bet is that it will get worse before people realize that social media is a tool akin to a razor-sharp knife: incredibly useful if used with care, incredibly dangerous if not.
In your last line, obey should be disobey.
I don’t see that much of a problem with deleting tweets. When I discover that something I posted about on my blog is substantially incorrect, I go back and make a correction. I normally leave the original text intact and just add a note, e.g. “I originally reported the cost at $55 million, but it turns out to be only $35 million.” If I change my mind about something, I might go back and add a similar note saying that my thinking has changed, perhaps with a link to a newer post. One exception to leaving the original text intact is when the content is potentially libelous. In that case I correct the text and leave a comment, e.g. “An earlier version of this post made a reference to an incident involving Joe Biden, a kilo of cocaine, and a busload of hookers, but I have since learned that the incident was a fabrication.”
Twitter doesn’t allow for such nuanced corrections. If you tweet something untrue or express an opinion and then change your mind, there’s no way to go back and edit a tweet or annotate it with a correction or update. You either have to leave up information which you no longer agree with, or you have to delete it completely, as if you never said it. I realize that Twitter is intended to be more of a conversation than a record, but as long as there is a record, don’t you have some obligation to maintain it?
Of course, if you delete something on the internet, it doesn’t ever really go away, but by removing it from your timeline, at least it’s clear that you don’t support it anymore.
I think that is defensible for bloggers, not for elected officials. The deletion of their tweets smacks of shredding documents to me. If they said it or wrote it, it needs to stay on the record. If they want to disclaim the content or correct a statement, they should do it openly, and not set up a “Who, me?” defense.
Yet another symptom of hyper-polarized politics. Idiots.
Have I mentioned that we could actually alleviate this problem to some extent by actually having MORE Representatives in Congress? Oh and also quit expecting the National level of government to weigh in on everything…