I haven’t seen such a perfect example of Rationalization #43 since Bill Clinton was caught with his pants down, a blue dress within range and a good cigar.
In case you haven’t perused the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List lately, and if so, shame on you, Al Franken’s accuser’s interview today on “Good Morning America” (if you don’t watch “Good Morning America,” good for you) laid the foundation for a virtual #43 orgy.
This rationalization description one is fun to read now, written as it was long before Hillary’s two candidacies for President, and the current Washington, D.C. leg of the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck.
42. The Hillary Inoculation, or “If he/she doesn’t care, why should anyone else?”
This is a complex, hybrid rationalization that draws upon the warped and corrupting logic of “Everybody does it,” the Biblical rationalizations, Comparative Virtue (“there are worse things!”) and a few others to reach an absurd argument that nevertheless sometimes carries the day.
One example that will live in infamy, and the inspiration for #42’s title, was Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky scandal, which exposed him beyond all doubt as a liar, a power abuser, a hypocrite and, incidentally, an adulterer, not that anyone was surprised at that. His wife, First Lady Hillary Clinton, prominently defended her husband, somehow keeping her feminist creds at the same time, a neat trick. She knew which side of the bread her butter was on, as the saying goes: her loyalty was going to pay off more than righteous indignation. Thus she obfuscated, spun and lied for Bill, and gave his defenders this jaw-dropping argument, which they used liberally:
“If Hillary is willing to forgive him, why shouldn’t we?”
Let us count the ways. Why?
1. Because her relationship to him is as a wife to a husband, and ours is as citizens to a national leader. The standards are different, the stakes are different, and the consequences of the betrayal of trust are different.
2. Because the seriousness of an ethical or legal violation is not defined by who chooses to tolerate or forgive it.
3. Because her decision to ignore, forgive or tolerate may be the product of bias, self-interest, or other non-ethical considerations that make the decision unreliable, untrustworthy, and a poor template for the response of others, as well as societal standards.
4. Because she may be wrong, mistaken, or a fool.
5. Because we each are responsible for making our own ethical judgments, and to delegate those judgments to a third party, especially to a third party who is not objective or likely to be affected by conflicts of interest, makes neither logical nor ethical sense.
[Hmmmm. Caught two typos there, and also needed to make an edit. I guess I haven’t read the list lately. Shame on me.]
Leeann Tweeden, as we all know now, accused Senator Al Franken of groping and kissing her without consent during a 2006 USO trip to the Middle East. Today the radio host appeared on “Good Morning America”and told host Robin Roberts that her goal in coming forward was to empower other assault victims to share their own stories. She emphasized that, however,
“I didn’t do this to have him step down. I think Al Franken does a lot of good things in the Senate. You know, I think that’s for the people of Minnesota to decide. I’m not calling for him to step down. That was never my intention.”
The Save Al Franken Chorus on the left had already pounced on earlier statements by Tweeden to the same effect to argue that this mitigates Franken’s conduct. That’s #43, and it’s wrong. Of the five reasons listed in the Rationalization, the last four are apply. Once society knows the facts of an event involving wrongdoing, what the victim wants the consequences to be is completely irrelevant, and should not be part of the evaluation process at all. Similarly, it would be extraneous to the matter if Tweeden demanded Franken’s resignation, or his ritual castration, or any other punishment.
As I just posted, I happen to agree with her conclusion that Franken should not be driven from office….but not because that’s what she wants. We shouldn’t care what she wants.