Ethics Clean-Up: Carson’s Negligence, Cruz’s Creepiness, And One Last Super Bowl Complaint

3 thingsBefore I run off to see a movie that will occupy my time while so many of my friends and colleagues disgrace themselves supporting brain damage for profit (here is Sally Jenkins on the NFL’s disgusting imitation of tobacco executives), there are three topics related to recent posts that bear mentioning.

  1. Ted Cruz’s Creepiness

Many Ted Cruz supporters were dismayed that even while flagging the biased and unfair tactics being used by the news media to discredit the most reviled of the seven GOP presidential contenders, I sympathized with those who find the Texas senator creepy. They don’t seem to understand that defense from a non-Cruz supporting ethicist is infinitely more credible and useful to their cause than support from a mouth-foaming conservative pundit, but never mind: nobody understands me, and it’s comforting to be attacked from the right for a change. However, I am thoroughly sick of people who don’t know what an ad hominem attack is accusing me of engaging in it.I ahve never used Ted Cruz’s creepiness or any of his other personality flaws to attack Cruz’s positions or political views. Doing that is an ad hominem attack. In the context of viability as a Presidential candidate, Cruz’s appearance, manner, and vibes, including what many see as creepiness, are relevant to their fitness to run for President, because fitness includes electability.

Thus it is relevant that Jeb Bush comes off as a bumbling weenie; that Chris Christie is fat, that Ben Carson looks and sounds like he is on barbiturates, that Marco Rubio is short, and that Kasich is dorky. Do you think it’s a coincidence that most Presidents are taller than average, and almost never bald? Charisma is rare, even in Presidents, but having it is a huge advantage (See: Trump, Donald) and having the opposite of charisma—Nixon, Dole, Gore, Ted Cruz—is a serious handicap. I’m really sorry that your hero seems creepy, Cruz fans, but it’s a fact, and it matters. Don’t shoot the messenger.

By the way, you will notice that Chris Christie is working at losing weight. Ted????

2. The ABC Moderators’ Last Question.

The Super Bowl is not a national priority, nor should it be placed on par with the vital matter of choosing a competent set of Presidential candidates. Martha Raddatz’s invitation at the end of the debate yesterday inviting  the seven GOP hopefuls to predict a winner also elevated the NFL when it needs to be condemned to save lives. It would have been wonderful if one of the candidates had the wit and courage to say so, but it also would have been very, very risky.

3. Ben Carson’s Lost Opportunity

It wouldn’t have been risky for Carson, though. How useless can the man be? For perhaps the only time, his status as a neurosurgeon was  mad suddenly relevant by this question. He had an opportunity to educate the public about concussions, CTE, football, and why it was crass and irresponsible to be cheering a game that maims young men and leaves them demented. He had a chance to do something to justify his otherwise incompetent candidacy. Instead, he grinned, made a wan joke about predicting one of the two teams would win, and passed.

19 thoughts on “Ethics Clean-Up: Carson’s Negligence, Cruz’s Creepiness, And One Last Super Bowl Complaint

  1. I’m not sure that creepiness can be lost like excess weight can. Certainly I could never think of Trump or Hillary as anything but creepy no matter what they might try to do to appear normal.

  2. The most popular breakfast show in Australia just went straight from a spiel on ‘Concussion’ to a big promo for the Super Bowl. It’s hard to tell if you should cry or laugh.

  3. The difficulty I have with Cruz being labelled ‘creepy’ is that it’s entirely a subjective label, and not a useful one. It takes the emotions which arise in the the other, and assigns them as a substantive value in Cruz without recourse. If the criticism were that “many people find it creepy when he: doesn’t make solid eye contact/shakes their hands oddly/ leers at his subordinates/appears lost in thought…” then he could address those problems the way Christie is addressing his problem. But the word is now being bandied about as being not specific to some of his behaviors, but to him, personally, as though he has an aura about him which naturally radiates a psychic nausea. (I appreciate the fact that you don’t do so, keeping the descriptor for his behavior.) Thus, the label is unremovable, and it’s contagious – once people are warned that he is creepy, they’ll start looking for it, and any bits of uneasiness they may feel will be thrust into their mental spotlights, and the label will stick from then on – without his behavior having been changed one iota. It may not be a classic ad hominem attack, but it is a nasty mental judo move which assigns responsibility for another person’s emotion to an invisible, undefinable, unadressable character trait.

    • Thus, the label is unremovable, and it’s contagious – once people are warned that he is creepy, they’ll start looking for it, and any bits of uneasiness they may feel will be thrust into their mental spotlights, and the label will stick from then on – without his behavior having been changed one iota. It may not be a classic ad hominem attack, but it is a nasty mental judo move which assigns responsibility for another person’s emotion to an invisible, undefinable, unadressable character trait.

      I agree with this, but I don’t see any way out of it, and I don’t think there should be any way out of it. Anyone in the public eye will have public judgments publicized about how they make others feel. And why isn’t that legitimate information to pass on? Is it unfair to point out that Joe Biden’s feeling up ever women he gets near is unsettling? Those who like a politician are often immune to signals that others find obvious: is it unfair to say Obama is arrogant?

      Many acquaintance and friends have told me that politics aside, Cruz make their skin crawl? Should we not mention that? Is it not relevant? Sure it is. The fact that so many found Al Gore robotic set him on a suicidal path of trying to act “human”—remember the sweaters? The remedy didn’t work, but the malady was real.

  4. Presidential politics run on image as much as knowledge and plans for the future. The “creepiness” factor comes into play because we’re looking for leadership, pure and simple, and regardless of a candidate’s credentials and plans, we do have to actually like him or her, not cringe every time we have to watch and listen to him/her. Likability, whether you subscribe to it or not, is a major factor. It means a great deal nationally and internationally: picture Cruz and Putin having a sit-down. Who would come off as strong and leader-like?

      • If you skip the bare-chested part, you could be talking about Trump (not going to Google that to confirm, no way!). And that fittingly reflects one of the many problems Cruz is facing on his road to the nomination.

      • No: the Putin who sits in thousand dollar suits in the Kremlin, looks like a leader, and is soft-spoken (about whatever he’s lying about). Do you really think Putin would sit down with Cruz — leader to leader — barechested with videos of his nauseating acts running in the background? Don’t be silly. I’m talking about the importance of image — the one people see. It’s a part of leadership. Your question is just like asking if Clinton would have sat down with Putin with Monica Lewinsky under his desk. Don’t be ridiculous.

        • So Cruz is creepy in a suit speaking softly and looking like a leader. (An act Obama can’t pull off anymore because he’s given away all his bargaining chips).By what measure? And if it’s not by how he looks then what? An American President with the will to rebuild America’s place in the world has plenty of gravitas when meeting with Putin or any other world leader in spite of 8 years of willful wimpiness on the part of Obama and Hillary.

          • I don’t get the creepy. What specific thing has Cruz done or said that is creepy? And if it’s just a vibe why doesn’t Putin have it in a suit? or Clinton? They have actually been seen and recorded doing creepy things.When I see them in suits they are still creepy.

          • It doesn’t matter if you find him creepy. The point is, he gives off those vibes, and may receive them. Personally, I think his attempts at humor are creepy, his body language is creepy, his voice is creepy and he looks creepy. His slickness and transparent dishonesty are creepy, like this exchange…

            MUIR: Mr. Trump, thank you. I want to bring this to Senator Cruz, then.

            Because Senator, you did said of Trump’s behavior this week, that’s not the temperament of a leader to keep this country safe. Why not?

            CRUZ: Well, you know, David, the assessment the voters are making here in New Hampshire and across the country is they are evaluating each and every one of us. They are looking to our experience. They are looking to our knowledge. They are looking to our temperament and judgment. They are looking to our clarity of vision and our strength of resolve. The world is getting much more dangerous. We’ve had seven years with Barack Obama in the oval office, a commander-in-chief that is unwilling even to acknowledge the enemy we’re facing. This is a president who, in the wake of Paris, in the wake of San Bernardino, will not even use the words radical Islamic terrorism, much less focus on defeating the enemy.I am convinced every individual standing on this stage, would make a much better commander-in-chief than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. And the primary voters are making the assessment for each of us, who is best prepared to keep this country safe, to rebuild the military, to rebuild our Navy, our Air Force, our Army, our Marines, and to ensure that we keep America safe.

            MUIR: Senator Cruz, I did ask about Mr. Trump. You said he doesn’t have the temperament to be commander-in-chief. Do you stand by those words?

            CRUZ: I think that is an assessment the voters are going to make. And they are going to make it of each and everyone of us. They are going to assess who is level-headed, who has clear vision, who has judgment, who can confront our enemies, who can confront the threats we face in this country, and who can have the judgment when to engage and when not to engage — both are incredibly important for a commander-in-chief, knowing how to go after our enemies. In the case of Iran, for example, who has the clarity of vision to understand that the Ayatollah Khamenei, when he chants, “Death to America,” he means it. We need a president with the judgment and resolve to keep this country safe from radical Islamic terrorists.

            MUIR: Senator Cruz, thank you.

            Evasive, cynical, too cute by half—creepy. I don’t trust the guy, and I can’t imagine why anyone would.

            • I guess I’ll have to accept that there is an element of creepiness that I don’t understand. I see evasiveness, muddled reasoning, reverting to script, cynicism, untrustworthiness, and poor communication skills. I see this in virtually every politician’s debate answers, I don’t see creepy.

                • I think it’s dirty politics. It makes me mistrust him. I still don’t get creepy.

                  Creepy is stalking, sexual predation, smarminess, narcissism, voyeurism, things that are pathological. Smug and self-satisfied are disgusting but not creepy. Political ambition can be uncomfortable to be around and make people do unethical things, but it’s not creepy.

                  • Creepy is stalking, sexual predation, smarminess, narcissism, voyeurism, things that are pathological.

                    That’s not what the word means. That’s how it is frequently used in the context of men and women, but that isn’t what the word means. The word means someone who makes your skin crawl, someone who is scary or faintly sinister.

                    CREEPY: causing an unpleasant feeling of fear or unease.
                    “the creepy feelings one often gets in a strange house”
                    synonyms: frightening, eerie, disturbing, sinister, weird, hair-raising, menacing, threatening

                    You know, Like Ted Cruz.

                    Don’t let people who have limited vocabularies warp yours. The fact that women use the word to solely to describe men doesn’t restrict the proper definition of the word. I really hate that: I’m not miscommunicating; I’m using the word properly, and people are saying, “No, he’s not creepy” because they don’t know what creepy means. Not my fault.

                    • OK. Something to work with. Your description of creepy causes me to rethink.

                      Cruz doesn’t frighten, menace or threaten me. I don’t think he’s sinister he doesn’t make me uneasy. I don’t think he’s weird or hair-raising.
                      His political actions are disturbing in the same way that all the other candidate’s actions are. He’s unethical as are all the other candidates. He has little of the right kind of leadership experience. Governors are usually better choices for President.
                      Nope. Still not creepy, but still not someone I would vote for happily either.

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