Ethics Quote of the Week: Former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla)

“Three black teens shoot white jogger. Who will [Mr. Obama] identify w/ this time?”

Allen West, African-American conservative and formerly a Republican Congressman, in a tweet chiding President Obama for his identification of black shooting victim Trayvon Martin with his hypothetical son and himself, because of their common race.

finger-pointingYou will note that I didn’t say “ethical quote.” I don’t know that West’s quote is ethical. He is a metaphorical bomb-thrower, and exploiting this horrible story to say “how dya like it when its thrown right back at ya, sport?” to President Obama may be satisfying (and well-earned), but I’m not sure it’s productive or responsible. I detested the President’s two comments on the Martin case, and think that they were ill-considered and destructive, but this kind of tit for tat mockery doesn’t clarify why his comments were wrong.

On the other hand, West’s tweet raises some valid ethics points in a modicum of keystrokes. How do we know this killing was racist? Just because the assailants were black and the victim was white, there is no reason to assume that their motive of killing someone for the fun of it wasn’t race blind. Race isn’t always a factor just because the victim and perpetrator are different colors, just as it may not have been a factor in the Martin slaying—which is why a prudent and responsible President should have kept his self-centered musings to himself. Continue reading

Morning After Report: Six Steps Forward and Seven Back In The Quest For A Trustworthy Congress

We’ll never get a trustworthy Congress this way.

So much for “the wisdom of crowds.” Last night, knowing (theoretically, at least) that the one completely irrational choice for the nation at this critical juncture in its history is more gridlock born of ideological intransigence, voters sent a dysfunctional Congress back to Washington, opting for a radical conservative House and a radical liberal Senate despite telling pollsters that this was the least trusted Congress in history. Just to make sure compromise and movement would be as difficult as possible, the public also re-elected a President who, whatever his other virtues, has shown neither the ability nor the inclination to engage in effective negotiation with his political adversaries on the Hill. There were plenty of more responsible options available to voters:

  • Commit to the President, and give his party majorities in both Houses of Congress so he could get his policies implemented, for better or worse,
  • Give the Senate back to the GOP, so some of the bills the House has passed can be sent to the President’s desk
  • Sweep everybody out and try a new team to see if it can do any better.

But no. The American public, in its infinite wisdom, opted for nearly the exact toxic partisan mix that has served the nation so miserably for the past two years. Unquestionably, the biggest ethics failure on election night was this one.

Yet there was progress, as voters rejected some of the more unethical officials offering their services. Unfortunately, these wise and ethical choices were greatly diluted by other unforgivable ones. On the plus side: Continue reading