And The Winner Of The First Ethics Alarms Readers Challenge Is….

First time commenter Aleksei!

atlantic-hillaryThe lateness of this announcement is embarrassing, and I apologize to all. The Challenge was to compose the best analysis, positive or negative, of a mind-melting pro-Hillary puff-piece in the Atlantic called—then, for the title was later changed because it was ridiculous)—“Why is Hillary Clinton So Widely Loved?”

A sample:

A conservative writer labeled her a congenital liar when she was first lady, and the label stuck because it was repeated over and over—and it was a convenient label to harness misogyny. If she was a liar, then the hostility she engendered could not possibly be because she was a first lady who refused to be still and silent. “Liar’ has re-emerged during this election even though Politifact, a respected source of information about politicians, has certified that she is more honest than most politicians—and certainly more honest than her opponent.

Because she is already considered guilty in a vague and hazy way, there is a longing for her to be demonstrably guilty of something. Other words have been repeated over and over, with no context, until they have begun to breathe and thrum with life. Especially “emails.” The press coverage of “emails” has become an unclear morass where “emails” must mean something terrible, if only because of how often it is invoked.

The challenge was issued on November 3rd, and my intention was to publish the winner on the 6th, two days before the election. There were not many entries, in part because Aleksei’s analysis was so quickly posted and thorough. In the frantic run-up to the election, including my own resolution of the many conflicts the choice represented for me professionally and personally, I just forgot to publish Aleksei’s work, and then moved on to other issues in the election.

I apologize to Aleksei and Ethics Alarms readers.

It  certainly is weird to read the article and the analysis now. It was written only two weeks ago, but it feels like a lifetime ago. The election was the ultimate rebuttal of the essay’s argument—if Hillary really was “so widely loved,” she’d be President today—and the kind of mindless worship and relentless denial the piece displays was a large factor in her defeat. It is bracing to read this in light of the efforts by the Clinton team, Democrats, and various pundits to absolve Clinton and the party from all accountability for the most stunning upset in presidential election history. Hillary blames the loss, predictably, on James Comey, which is like blaming the loss of your license for speeding on traffic cops. On MSNBC on this week, former Clinton campaign communications director Jess McIntosh put the blame on  white women with “internalized misogyny,” who couldn’t bring themselves to vote to elect the first woman president. Then there was the narrative that Trump’s win was based on massive support for “Misogyny, Racism and Xenophobia”—good names for triplets, now that I think about it. Slate’s star race-baiter, Jamelle Bouie, wrote that there is “no such thing as a good Trump voter.” To paraphrase the hysterical woman who gives “The Birds” its funniest moment, Bouie thinks everyone who didn’t vote for this beloved woman is “Evil! Evil!”

I don’t necessarily agree with all the analysis of the winning submission, but he was willing to slog through the Atlantic’s disingenuous mess, and Ethics Alarms is grateful.

Here then, late, is the winner of the first Ethics Alarms Readers Challenge:

To begin the analysis of the article, let’s start with “A conservative writer labeled her a congenital liar… to harness misogyny”.

I would say it is not an unfair judgement of HRC. Let me bring up a few snapshots of said lying, some of which Frank Stephens mentioned, but still important to note once more.

-The fibbed story of being named after Edmund Hillary.
-The lie about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire.
-Lie that Benghazi was caused by a youtube video.
-Lie about not sending classified emails over the private server.
-Lie about 9/11 fainting episode by saying it was due to “overheating”.

The author adding the bit about misogyny is providing a fine example of #27. “Victim’s Distortion”. Since it is possible for women to experience sexist attitudes towards them in male dominated fields, this can be the only rational explanation for HRC being called a liar.

Moving along, “… the IT system at the State Department is old and stodgy, nothing like a Blackberry’s smooth whirl. Hillary Clinton was used to her Blackberry, and wanted to keep using it… Hackers could have broken into her system…”
This would be a #19A. “It wasn’t the best choice”, but because “…an exhaustive investigation has found no hacking and no nefarious intent—and intent is what matters above all else.” we can also add the ageless #13A. “The Road to Hell”, since she didn’t mean any of this go bad or wrong.

This was a powerful argument provided, that stated “…while her opponent… has been proven again and again to be a liar on matters big and small…”, which I think is a bit of a stretch to claim, since HRC does not stand up to this argument herself. See first paragraph.

A nice little explanation: “Hillary Clinton is not a performer. She does not have that charismatic flair… Because Hillary Clinton is a woman, she is judged too harshly for doing what most politicians do—hedging sometimes, waffling sometimes, evading sometimes.”

So because she fails at getting people excited, having lackluster charisma and oratory skills, as the author very tactfully says, she gets rammed because she is a woman, a double strike for #27!

A interesting observation that “She is held responsible for her husband’s personal failings” is supposed to make her look like a victim. I think it is safe to say she should be held responsible on account of her active participation in controlling these scandals, denigrating women involved, calling them “bimbos”, and sweeping this unpleasantness under the rug.

To end my take on the article, I left the best for last. “There are millions of Americans who do not have the self-indulgent expectation that a politician be perfect. They are frustrated that Hillary Clinton is allowed no complexity.” I find this particularly egregious. I think any person who values ethical conduct can only make the unambiguous conclusion that “complexity” is a euphemism for corruption and unethical conduct. Thus, in the author’s view everybody has a right to be “complex”, bringing us to America’s No.1 hit #1. “Everybody does it”.

I think the author should have just said “Americans, HRC is sacrificing and sinning for all of you! So vote for her, God Dammit, you ungrateful bastards! She is complex!” That would have been truthful, clear and present.


5 thoughts on “And The Winner Of The First Ethics Alarms Readers Challenge Is….

  1. I agree. This is an excellent analysis, and I thought so at the time.
    I also agree “It is bracing to read this in light of the efforts by the Clinton team, Democrats, and various pundits to absolve Clinton and the party from all accountability for the most stunning upset in presidential election history.” I really wish I could do this kind of analysis, and I respect it when it is done well.

  2. Jack, thank you for posting the results. Honest folks of Ethics Alarms, thank you for your kind words. I have been thoroughly enjoying the blog, the insightful articles and commentary. It has made me look at events and behaviors with ethics in mind. This has been quite the election, and looking back now, it seems HRC’s baggage has caught up with her. Unfortunately, I had an intimate relationship end because of the election, evidently the results were more far reaching than I could have imagined. I am dismayed a bit with the fact that media seems has not learned its lesson of being objective (good example how Trump had a steak diner with his family without telling the press, and the responsible journalists have presaged the least transparent administration to come). I hope that we won’t see such outright political hackery in op-eds any time soon, but I will not hold my breath.

    • I too lost two close friends and numerous acquaintances by holding to the ethics learned at Jack’s knee, or rather, by being able to identify the rationalizations and wishful-thinking with which they clogged their arguments and minds.

      Does the loss of two close, old friends equal that of one intimate relationship? Maybe not, but it hurts just the same, as does seeing the irrational aftermath of the election which proves how far down the wrong path the losing Party and their Candidate have led them. In the end, that may turn out to be the biggest crime of all.

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