Ethics Quiz: President Romney


As Ethics Quizzes go, this one is a little different.

Conservative political writer Matthew DesOrmeaux has written essay titled “Here’s What Would Be Happening if President Romney Had Bombed a Hospital in Afghanistan…”.  Here is the key section:

If Romney had been elected in 2012 and in the year before his reelection campaign had bombed a hospital, decided to keep troops in Afghanistan, and had details of his robot assassin program leaked, things would probably look a little different today.

If Romney were president right now, the White House would be surrounded by protesters and candlelight peace vigils night and day. Some would wave American flags, some would wave signs calling for impeachment, some would have pictures caricaturing the president as Hitler or an animal. They would chant “Not in our name!”, or “Bring them home!”, or “Hey ho, hey ho, Romney has got to go!”

If Romney were president, nightly news reports on CBS, NBC, and ABC would have regular features on war crimes, quagmires, and collateral damage. CNN would be wall-to-wall with team coverage of protests, interviews of bombing witnesses, and Anderson Cooper walking through rubble in full body armor.

If Romney were president, every political analyst left of Judge Napolitano would be fretting over the war-weary public turning the upcoming election into a referendum against the president and his party. Vox and FiveThirtyEight would have maps showing how many Senate seats Republicans would lose because of the president’s sure-to-plummet approval rating. And then there’s MSNBC.

If Romney were president, MSNBC would be holding mock war crimes tribunals on Chris Hayes, explaining the ins and outs of the process with expert guests. Lena Dunham would be on Maddow every night aghast (but still giggling!) at this warmonger-in-chief. Chris Matthews would be yelling at Michael Moore, trying to find out when charges would be filed at the Hague.

If Romney were president, Democrats in Congress would be calling for hearings and investigations for each transgression: the bombing, troop levels, and drone policy. Chuck Schumer would hold daily press briefings scolding the reckless president from behind the glasses perched precariously down his nose. Someone would accurately quote Sheila Jackson-Lee condemning the terrible bombing of the “orphanage in Pakistan”.

But Mitt Romney isn’t president, Barack Obama is, so no one cares.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is….

Are these fair assumptions?

If you conclude they are not, then I need to know why they are not. We have seen already, in multiple incidents, how the news media has adopted the Obama administration’s “There’s nothing to see here” mantra to minimize and  bury them. In parallel scandals of similar or lesser import, Republican administrations have faced relentless coverage, scrutiny, suspicion and attacks. The double standard is palpable.

If you decide that DesOrmeaux’s fantasy is fair, then I’d like to know what that means, and how it can be addressed.

For if a partisan segment of the public calibrates its conduct and message according to an agenda of ideological warfare, bolstered by a corrupt, biased and complicit media, then our democracy is in imminent peril.


Pointer and Spark: Instapundit

18 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: President Romney

  1. I find some of the specifics over the top, but the general point is hard to argue with.

    I think it’s important to note that ignoring Obama’s war crimes is beneficial to the narratives of both the right AND the left; the left gets to pretend Obama is a lovable peacenik, and the right gets to portray him as soft on terror. Everybody wins! Well, except for the truth.

  2. Playing ‘what if’ is a favorite of SF, but after a short time from the branch there’s so many known factors and butterflies in Tibet that I resist any judgement. The bigger thing is the premise itself. Whatever you want to say now, if Mr Romney was President we would have a very different set of concerns and worries. I very much doubt he would manage to end up with THIS set of scandals, so Romney’s actions are moot as is any reaction by the media. The assumptions are just that, fantasy.

    The real thrust is wondering if the media would hound Romney, I think the answer is yes. A thought experiment basis does not require that the basis scandals are possible, only that Mr Romney might be facing major scandals under media eyes. For that the thought experiment is fair, as I agree the media would be far more critical. Syllogisms still make true results even if a base statement seems bad.

  3. I wonder how effective the media’s criticisms of a future Republican president would be, given their history of covering for President Obama.

    “they did it too” is an effective rationalization when “their” actions were openly condoned.

    • “They did it too”, or even first doesn’t get you anywhere. Christians are still being asked to justify the Crusades.
      Besides conservatives can’t compete in the game because as a rule their value system doesn’t allow them to break their own rules as easily. And, because they actually have rules that other conservatives hold them to.

      • Christians are still being asked to justify the Crusades to the Holy Land because it was Christian against Muslim and academia doesn’t necessarily teach the whole historical context, for which I refer you to Tom Holland’s Forge of Christendom, Rodney Stark’s God’s Battalions, and Geoffrey Regan’s First Crusader.

        When you look at the fact that the Muslims had already tried to conquer Europe, actually taken and held some of it, and only been ejected from Sicily and Calabria a generation or two before the First Crusade, or the fact that the Byzantines had just taken a big hit at Muslim hands and were looking for help (albeit they were going to be cynical and a bit slimy about it), it looks a little different than the accounts that start with Pope Urban proclaiming the Crusade out of apparently nowhere.

        However, the folks who are demanding justification usually don’t buy this, nor are they looking to hear it, since this is an honest answer to a rhetorical demand. They aren’t looking to have an honest discussion about that very complicated two centuries or the broader question of east-west relations. They have already made up their mind that the West was wrong and they are looking to hold up the Crusades as the uber-example of how wrong it was. Everything else is just to back into their conclusion. It’s the ultimate pigeon chess game, where the only way to win is not to play and not to play is still to lose, for you will be accused of not being able to hold your own or of being afraid to debate.

        The best way to show a stick is crooked is not to denounce it or debate it, but simply to lay a straight stick down next to it. However, even that is worthless when the other person will refuse to accept that it is straight because of the person who laid it down. That’s the liberal “acceptance” of what conservatives have to say.

  4. Although the author is being extreme, I think you only need to look to recent history to prove out what he wrote. Clinton overdeployed the military to world trouble spots the US had frankly no business getting involved in, bombed the tobacco juice out of the Balkans, and you didn’t hear boo from the peace protest community. Obama went into Libya without approval and without a plan and let the place dissolve into chaos, and not a peep did you hear from the usual suspects. More than a few horrible attacks in Afghanistan have happened on Obama’s watch, including the highest-ranking officer milled in a battle zone since probably Korea and the most aircraft destroyed since Vietnam, and you didn’t hear calls to withdraw from Afghanistan immediately. Most military events like Fleet Week and airshows go on unmolested by protesters, or at least with a greatly reduced presence.

    However, were all of these things happening under a President Romney, I submit the same people who have been buying all those glossy signs for Black Lives Matter would be dumping huge amounts of cash into buying similar signs for World Can’t Wait, A.N.S.W.E.R., and so on, every event featuring the military would be heavily protested, complete with National Lawyers Guild “legal observers” to cow the police, and Cindy Sheehan would be unchained to spew her bile and vitriol to cheering crowds instead of buried as an embarrassment.

    The fact is that very few on any side are principled peaceful people who are against conflict under any circumstances, who I might disagree with, but at least I can respect as committed and consistent. Fewer still, especially on the left, are analytical or objective people who can tell you this conflict us in our interest, that one isn’t, and here’s why, which might at least be open to a legitimate discussion. To most on the left, the cause of peace is a moral gloss used to buff up partisan attacks on the other side and make it appear not just incorrect, but evil. The argument that the intelligence is incorrect or ginned up and the explanation why just makes audiences’ eyes glaze over, but thousands chanting “Bush lied, kids died” is visceral and holds attention, true or not. It’s frankly a cynical corruption of an ideal and exploitation of low information viewers and voters to make them assume that the one side is always right, the other is always wrong.

  5. Those aren’t assumptions at all but inferences – fair or not – from unstated assumptions – fair or not. It would help if we could penetrate to the underlying, unstated assumptions and then scrutinise both the basis for those and the process used for drawing the inferences (which may or may not have been a logical one involving reason).

  6. Generally speaking, I find these kinds of “thought experiments” worthless. We really don’t know what the political environment around a president Romney would be, for one thing, and too many assumptions are made that go past the rational and into the ad hominem.

    Would the left, and their sympathizers in the media have made a bigger deal about it? I think that’s beyond reasonable doubt. But I also find these kinds of things hard to take seriously, and we see them from both sides depending on which one’s in power.

    The Republicans have to deal with a hostile media and radical leftists. So what? That’s the way things are.

    So to answer your question, I don’t think DesOrmeaux’s fantasy is fair for two reasons — one, it is a political fantasy, which is inherently biased and almost always unfair.

    Second, it is unfair to the liberal establishment he mentions. MSNBC who despite their relentless liberalism is never going to “… hold mock war crimes tribunals”, etc. CNN and MSNBC would probably cover the event more relentlessly, but only because their consumers would demand it.

    No, it’s not fair. It’s biased and assumes the worst of people, and even if some on the left and right are working overtime to prove that assumption true, these sorts of things are manifestly unhelpful in discouraging them from that effort.

    • I think you have accepted the point so deeply in your mind that you missed the point. The point is that journalists are supposed to report the news. Journalism is supposed to keep the public informed of what is going on and act as a watchdog on government behavior. It hasn’t to the point that you accept it as normal and are dismissing the criticism. I don’t think it is extreme at all. This is not a fantasy of “Romney would do this” it is a fantasy of “This shows how biased the news organizations really are”.

  7. The question is “Are these fair assumptions?” The answer is “Yes.” Assumptions are based on past actions to predict hypotheticals. Past actions of the political left strongly indicate that any action by a conservative, even an action previously excused by liberals when anyone on the left does it, will be used to convict a conservative.

    You can prove this by asking people to react to a given statement. Using the same statement and attributing it to either a liberal or a conservative will get you a reaction based not on the statement itself, but on the perceived political affiliation of the person who said it. This has been done over and over and is comedy gold.

    • “Past actions of the political left strongly indicate that any action by a conservative, even an action previously excused by liberals when anyone on the left does it, will be used to convict a conservative.”

      I think it’s more accurate to say that “Past actions of political partisans indicate that any action by an opposing partisan, even an action previously excuse by partisans when any of their own do it, will be used to convict an opposing partisan.”

      • You are right, but the bias of the news media, which would make this bearable if they were objective and fair, makes it a huge net advantage for the Left, and thus a largely left-inflicted danger.

  8. To the question “Are these fair assumptions?”, the answer is yes, obviously. The reason is that we have historical precedent, examples of this happening over and over from Wilson, FDR, Truman, Nixon, Carter, Ford, both Bushes, Clinton and Obama, just to name a few. The Liberals have never criticized their anointed one and I can count on one finger the number of times conservatives have launched “Occupy” style demonstrations against them.
    The more important question is “What’s to be done about it?” and frankly, I can’t really find but one solution: more people like Jack, who apparently makes most judgments based on ethics rather than politics. For instance, I have yet to get a feel for whether he is liberal, conservative or moderate, but I suspect Independent Moderate comes closest. The real problem is how can people such as Jack be propelled to arenas in which this attitude (sound judgments based on ethics) is spread into an irrefutable national forum. This blog is an excellent start, but one person, short of a religious fanatic, will not make a difference. We, those of us who are conservatives, but have taken lessons from such as Jack, can no longer be the straight stick, we must become cudgels…well, no but my own example is one I would hold up. There are several people who comment here that I refuse to engage, not because they are hateful or because they are mean (a couple of exceptions) but because they refuse to listen, produce biased data (by ‘biased’, I mean ‘cherry-picked’) and are not amenable to persuasion, so smug are they in the rightness of their opinions. And that is MY bad, because I should be engaging…not so much to change THEM but to persuade other, less partisan, more reasonable people who may be sitting on the fence. In short, those of us who do NOT use insults, intellectualization, nit-picking arguments about grammar and spelling, ad hominem attacks, partisan bigotry, and biased research nevertheless MUST engage those who do. If we choose not to, then the last line of the original post will become prophetic, our democratic experiment will be in peril, and will be doomed to failure.

    • Well, yes, we have to produce better information, better scholarship, better results, better everything if we are going to be that straight stick. Unfortunately, as I said, there are those out there who would say the sky was green if a conservative said it was blue, simply because of the messenger.

  9. I think the coverage of President Romney would be worse than you describe, Jack, and no matter what he did. Obama has been the Great White Hope (forgive the pun) of the Left since his ascendancy. After a century from the time of Woodrow Wilson, progressives have worked for the time when they would hold unshakable dominance over America. If Obama had lost in 2012, his promise unfulfilled, I predict that his talking head adherents would have gone berserk. We’re already seeing signs of that as Obama’s last term draws to a close with the Republicans poised to take back the White House, America in visible retreat in all areas and the hated Constitution still in place. As in the 1930’s and 70’s, they’ve again fallen short in a major effort for power.

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