Ethics Observations On NYT Columnist David Brooks’ Astounding Quote

scandal

Amazingly, Obama hasn’t had any.

Here is the quote:

“President Obama has run an amazingly scandal-free administration, not only he himself, but the people around him, not only he himself, but the people around him. He’s chosen people who have been pretty scandal-free. And so there are people in Washington who do set a standard of integrity, who do seem to attract people of quality. And I think that’s probably true of the current group.”

Yes, it was almost a Kaboom!, causing my head to explode. Yes, I think it is stunning thing for anyone to say, but especially a pundit who is respected–by some, anyway—for his careful thought and moderation. Yes, it is ridiculous on its face.

Fascinating and enlightening though!

1. Brooks, though he has wavered occasionally, has always had a man-crush on Obama. Acknowledging this as he has, it shows remarkable lack of bias-control to let it run wild to this extent.

2. It is a terrific example of how linguistics can warp ethics, and vice-versa. The only possible way someone can make such a statement honestly—yes, I do believe Brooks really thinks this, as plainly counter-factual as it is—-is to consciously or sub-consciously define “scandal” so extremely that it omits anything connected to the Obama Administration. If Brooks believes that “scandals’ only involve theft, criminal activity and sex, he has a barely supportable thesis. Barely. Well, not really even then.

3. Not just scandal-free, but “amazingly” scandal free! This gets into Big Lie territory; perhaps “Big Hyperbole” is a bit more accurate. To be “amazingly scandal free,” we would hold up this Administration as the ethics model for all future administrations. Be still, my expanding head…

4. Is this clinical denial? I have mentioned here before that a disturbing number of Democrats and progressives, as well as African Americans, defend Obama by just asserting that everything is wonderful, no matter what goes wrong, and that Obama himself is a great President, despite near complete incompetence in every sphere. Some of these are professional liars and ideological warriors, of course; some are also just not too bright. Brooks, however, doesn’t fit in those categories.

5. This was on PBS, where the libs and the Democrats roam, where Brooks knows that he has seldom heard a discouraging word regarding Obama, so he was free to let his inner Obamaphile free.  I have seen this phenomenon on Fox and MSNBC as well—supposed moderates flip a switch, and play to their audience. Mark Shields, a nice man (we were once trapped on an airport shuttle together) predictably chimed in with, “David makes a good point. And I agree with him on this administration in particular.”  Jeez, Mark.

6. Maybe on PBS the definition of scandal is “wrongdoing by Republicans.” But then it wouldn’t mean that Obama’s years were “amazingly” scandal free, would it? I recently linked to Clinton spinner Joe Conason’s essay about the “phony” Clinton scandals. Was Clinton’s administration “amazingly scandal free”?

7. This came up in the process of discussing Dennis Hastert’s indictment. Hastert’s scandal is not a government scandal, so Brooks’ comment about Obama is a non sequitur, as well as being so false that makes my teeth itch.

8. Do progressives and Democrats really believe this? if so, to what can it be fairly attributed? Corruption? Brain-washing? Wishful thinking? Positive thinking?  Insanity? Ignorance? Stupidity?

9. It is true that the Republican Congress and the party’s political operatives in the Bush years were unusually venal and corrupt. Is Brooks falling victim to Rationalization #22, “It’s not the worst thing”?  Even then, he is making a dubious choice regarding scandalous and non-scandalous misconduct. The incompetence, lies, conflicts and naked politicization of Obama’s appointees and the departments he oversees constitutes a macro-scandal by itself.

10. Scandal-free means no scandals, right? Gee, let me see,  just off the top of my head:

…Was Obama’s head of the CIA giving classified information to his mistress a scandal? I’d say so, wouldn’t you?

…Is the widespread neglect of our veterans by the VA and its mismanagement of resources a scandal?

…Is HHS launching its web-dependent ACA with a non-functioning website that cost a fortune a scandal?

…Is a low level NSA contractor escaping to Russia after leaking reams of classified information a scandal?

…Is Secret Service agents being repeatedly drunk and entertaining  prostitutes while on the job a scandal?

…Is the Justice Department covering up its botched and deadly “gun walking” operation a scandal?

…Is the President of the United States deliberately lying to the American people about how Obamacare would work a scandal?

…Is the Internal Revenue Service improperly and possibly criminally targeting conservative groups to keep them from getting involved in the 2012 campaign a scandal? How about the official in charge refusing to testify before Congress?

…Is the the head of the NSA, and the Attorney General lying under oath before Congress a scandal?

…Is it a scandal for the exchange of five terrorists for deserter Bowe Bergdahl to be described by the National Security Advisor as freeing an American hero?

…Is it a scandal for that National Security Advisor to be appointed to that post after intentionally misrepresenting CIA intelligence regarding the attack on the U.S. Benghazi compound to all five networks?

Sexual harassment in the Armed Services? The Vice President groping women on camera? Secret domestic spying? Intimidation and wire tapping of journalists? Wait, what could I be forgetting? Oh yes, maybe you’ve heard of this: Did you know that Obama’s first Secretary of State continued to accept foreign contributions into her family foundation after signing a document pledging not to, then breached security protocols by using private e-mail for official business, then destroyed 30,000 e-mails without allowing government review, to avoid their being subpoenaed? Here is Salon on this amazing non-scandal:

Federal law designates the secretary of state as “responsible for the continuous supervision and general direction of sales” of arms, military hardware and services to foreign countries. In practice, that meant that Clinton was charged with rejecting or approving weapons deals — and when it came to Clinton Foundation donors, Hillary Clinton’s State Department did a whole lot of approving.

While Clinton was secretary of state, her department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors. That figure from Clinton’s three full fiscal years in office is almost double the value of arms sales to those countries during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that gave to the Clinton Foundation. That was a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. The 143 percent increase in U.S. arms sales to Clinton Foundation donors compares to an 80 percent increase in such sales to all countries over the same time period.

American military contractors and their affiliates that donated to the Clinton Foundation — and in some cases, helped finance speaking fees to Bill Clinton — also got in on the action. Those firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of arms deals authorized by the Clinton State Department.

The Obama administration seems less-scandal riddled than it is, in part, because Eric Holder’s Justice Department has declined to diligently investigate obvious wrongdoing in many cases, as is its duty to the American people. That itself is a scandal.

13 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On NYT Columnist David Brooks’ Astounding Quote

  1. Even in comparison with the Clinton administration, Obama’s has been so full of malfeasance on so many levels as to make Bill look like Calvin Coolidge. At least Bill wasn’t completely incompetent and was out for himself beyond ideology. You can understand that latter motivation and deal with it, even while despising it. Obama stated clearly that he was out to “fundamentally transform America”. That was the first and last truthful thing he said as an elected president and he has pursued that by any and all means ever since. Clinton was a huckster pretending to be a president. Obama is a commissar aiming at tyranny… and thus far more dangerous.

  2. I think he appears scandal free to the choir because he’s so detached from the people he’s supposed to be floating above, er, managing. He only finds out about problems by reading about them in the newspaper or while switching channels from ESPN to Fox Sports. He’s a savior, he’s not a president. All those things you point out are just nits committed by his mere mortal minions. He’s post-Teflon. And don’t forget, when he hears about problems below, boy, does he ever get mad. Yes sirree. You bet.

  3. I think he appears scandal free because his supporters don’t see these as scandals. When Gruber was caught on camera saying that they twisted the language of the ACA ‘painstakingly’ wording it so the CBA didn’t rate it as a tax, when it really was, relying on the stupidity of voters to support it, that wasn’t a scandal, that was a ‘tee-hee you caught us, now we’re going to continue as if nothing happened.’ This is the same track as the IRS scandal, the Snowden files, et al. Everyone knows what’s going on, no one’s surprised by it anymore, and so it isn’t a scandal, unless you count those mean racists that are shitting on their golden boy.

  4. I totally get why his administration has been amazingly scandal free. It’s very simple, Jack. In all of the situations you outlined above, was he ever a principal player in that activity? Nope. Therefore, it’s not his scandal. If it is not HIS scandal, then it is not his administration’s scandal. Q.E.D. See? Simple. Nothing to see here. Move along. By the way, those nasty, obstructionist Republicans just want to hurt him, because they don’t him. They’re racists, you know. “Bush lied and people died!”

    In the amusing words of Lewis Carroll,

    “Mad Hatter: Would you like a little more tea?
    Alice: Well, I haven’t had any yet, so I can’t very well take more.
    March Hare: Ah, you mean you can’t very well take less.
    Mad Hatter: Yes. You can always take more than nothing.”
    ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

    jvb

  5. “The only possible way someone can make such a statement honestly” . . . . “is to consciously or sub-consciously define “scandal” . . . ”

    as it IS actually defined in the last four words of its standard definition: “an action or event regarded as morally or legally wrong and causing general public outrage.”

    You’re jumping the gun, Jack.

    • Or maybe…
      “an occurrence in which people are shocked and upset because of behavior that is morally or legally wrong”
      or…
      “something that is shocking, upsetting, or unacceptable”
      or…
      “loss of or damage to reputation caused by actual or apparent violation of morality or propriety”
      or…
      “a circumstance or action that offends propriety or established moral conceptions or disgraces those associated with it “????

      So because you use the most narrow definition, that means I’m jumping the gun? Does corruption and a breach of trust constitutes a moral wrong? Well, since the morality of government involves keeping the public trust by its own definitions—remember that morality is any ethics code imposed by authority, and not just religious codes—, lets see, shall we?

      …Was Obama’s head of the CIA giving classified information to his mistress a scandal? I’d say so, wouldn’t you?

      Scandal: Morally and legally.

      …Is the widespread neglect of our veterans by the VA and its mismanagement of resources a scandal?

      Scandal: Immoral and breach of a legal duty.

      …Is HHS launching its web-dependent ACA with a non-functioning website that cost a fortune a scandal?

      “disgraces those associated with it “, but more to the point, is a fiaso generally agreed to be scandalous a scandal? Are you really willing to deny that this wasn’t the equivalent of criminal negligence?

      …Is a low level NSA contractor escaping to Russia after leaking reams of classified information a scandal?

      Gee, is treason a scandal?

      …Is Secret Service agents being repeatedly drunk and entertaining prostitutes while on the job a scandal?

      Scandal: prostitution, shameful beach of duty and trust

      …Is the Justice Department covering up its botched and deadly “gun walking” operation a scandal?

      Breach of the rule of law. Scandal.

      …Is the President of the United States deliberately lying to the American people about how Obamacare would work a scandal?

      Scandal: “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Also a crime: fraud in the inducement.

      …Is the Internal Revenue Service improperly and possibly criminally targeting conservative groups to keep them from getting involved in the 2012 campaign a scandal? How about the official in charge refusing to testify before Congress?

      Scandal: Lies, crime. The fact that the cover-up has been successful doesn’t change it.

      …Is the the head of the NSA, and the Attorney General lying under oath before Congress a scandal?

      Obviously a moral breach, no? Also perjury: a crime. Scandal.

      …Is it a scandal for the exchange of five terrorists for deserter Bowe Bergdahl to be described by the National Security Advisor as freeing an American hero?

      Placing the US at risk and lying about the justification for it? Scandal.

      …Is it a scandal for that National Security Advisor to be appointed to that post after intentionally misrepresenting CIA intelligence regarding the attack on the U.S. Benghazi compound to all five networks?

      Government regs: appearance of impropriety. Morality: lies.

      I can go on. I hope you concede the point.

      • Wasn’t arguing your points, Jack. Sorry you found it necessary to review.

        The common definitions of “scandal”, including all those you mentioned, also implies something that the general public perceives as such. That’s how the word works. If almost everybody doesn’t see it that way, doesn’t find it necessary to debate, it’s not one. Everything a Kardashian does is a scandal, one that the general public loves or loves to hate; Enron was/is a scandal that nobody liked, that embarrassed the country; Watergate was a scandal so big its suffix became synonymous with scandal. I leave it to you to continue pointing out the prime examples, but I would expect that as long as both a sitting POTUS and a potential standing one — both committing mass misbehavior under your ethicscope — are getting away things NOT (or not yet) considered a scandal according to a citizenry that is largely patterning itself on Helen Keller, you are ahead of the times in labelling them scandals.

        • No… Just because people don’t know… How many have to know??? really??? that argument is lame.

          So some of the scandals YOU mentioned like Enron… i knew NOTHING about, just heard the name here and there. I bet millions could say the same so how many have to know? Isn’t the “scandal” known when the media who’s not biased tells about it? That’s how the public finds out. So not only did a scandal happen in each case but the fact the media did NOT let us know about all of them is even worse!! In light with them having to tell us stupid shit about trump everyntime he doesn’t something not worth mentioning… So yeah that’s the worst mass scandal of all. God help us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.