There was ample evidence over the past week that all three of the candidates currently leading their respective party’s races for the presidential nomination are unqualified for the office by virtue of their deficiencies of competence, character, and principles. Hillary Clinton had the most spectacularly revealing week, but first, the other two….
Donald Trump: Hubris, incompetence, disrespect and unfairness
1. “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump boasted at a campaign rally yesterday. I know, it’s a joke. It’s also an astoundingly stupid thing to say, even in jest, and reveals massive hubris, the quality that brought down many a Greek king and the worst and most dangerous of all Trump flaws. This is what will get him, sooner or later. 3000 years of history and literature teach us that. The comment also reveals utter contempt for his supporters; he is essentially calling them blind morons. The crowd in Iowa laughed….because they are.
2.“Our great veterans are being treated terribly,” Trump says in a new campaign video. “The corruption in the Veteran’s administration, the incompetence is beyond. We will stop that.” Then critics pointed out that the clips used showed Russian veterans, not Americans, and he pulled the ad.
This is the man whose only claim to legitimacy is his management wizardry. Such an error, however, is proof of sloppy oversight and incompetent delegation. Moreover, this is the second time a Trump campaign ad included mislabeled material: his illegal immigration ad earlier this month used footage of people crossing the Moroccan border to represent the U.S.-Mexico border. Conclusion: he’s faking it, “it” meaning everything. This is all posturing and bluffing, like a student taking an exam for a course he never studied for. Continue reading
I have not authored the usual number of unethical campaign tactics indictments this time around. One reason is that their desperation while facing an almost certain GOP wipe-out has led Democratic Party candidates into far more questionable devices than the confident Republicans as the Blues have increasingly defaulted to race-baiting, Koch brothers attacks, scare-mongering on everything from guns to contraception, and the “war on women” chorus. Combine that with the popular integrity breach of Democratic incumbants virtually pretending that they never heard of the Democratic President in the White House, and I was faced with giving more ammunition to those who accuse me of partisan bias. Looking at the poll projections, it appears that the worst offenders—Wendy Davis, Allison Grimes, Mark Udall, and Mary Landrieu among them—will get their just desserts from voters without additional alarms from me.
Speaking of desserts: this campaign tactic is worthy of note. A loyal Rhode Island reader inquires if I have any ethical problems with the campaign of Allen Fung, the Chinese-American GOP candidate in the closely contested Rhode Island governor’s race, delivering thousands of fortune cookies to Rhode Island Chinese restaurants that look like this when you open them
So your Ethics Alarms Pre-Election Ethics Quiz is the question asked of me:
Is there anything unethical about this?
“In Georgia, state Democrats printed a flyer warning that the way to prevent “another Ferguson” is to vote. Arkansas residents meanwhile, received a mailer showing a man in a hands-up, don’t shoot position made infamous in the wake of Michael Brown’s killing. The mailer reads: “If we want to end senseless killings like Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, we need to vote . . . It’s important to say that it shouldn’t have to be the threat of undermining civil rights that gets people to vote, but if it does, so much stronger the party is for it.”
—MSNBC talking head Alex Wagner, acknowledging the desperate, last-ditch effort by the Democratic Party to energize its African-American base by racial fear-mongering, and endorsing it in epic “the ends justify the means” fashion.
Wagner: ‘Race-baiting makes us strong.’
I remember my father announcing during the Nixon re-election campaign that the cynical GOP “Southern strategy” is which it catered to old-line Southern Democratic voters with direct appeals to racist myths and fears that he was changing his registered party affiliation from Republican to Independent, because he refused to belong to a party that would engage in such divisive and despicable tactics just to win elections. It is hard to imagine any conservative-leaning broadcaster, commenting on these scare-tactics at the time, both acknowledging them and pronouncing them regrettable but, all in all, good for the party. Yet this is exactly what Wagner did.
It exposes many things: the ethical deficit at MSNBC, progressive approval of the strategy of exacerbating racial discord and division in America, and the open, seven year-long strategy of Democrats resorting to race-baiting as the solution of last resort whenever the party’s performance and policies are subjected to fair criticism. The statement also exposes partisans like Wagner as ethics corruptors of all who hear them and are gullible enough to believe they speak the truth. Winning by lies and undermining racial comity in America makes nothing and nobody stronger. Even if such a tactic is successful in the short-term, it is devastating to democracy and the culture. No party that stoops to such gutter tactics is worthy of support by anyone who believes in basic ethical values.
The New York Times was finally revolted sufficiently by the conduct of its party of choice that it wrote about the recent spate of race-baiting campaign messages being used in close contests around the nation by the deservedly desperate Democrats: Continue reading
1. The campaign of Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has issued an attack ad directly referencing gubernatorial rival Greg Abbott’s partial paralysis, and includes the image of an empty wheelchair. Davis could claim—and will, if she hasn’t already–that the implication that his use of a wheelchair argues against his qualifications to be governor is inadvertent or imagined, except that her supporters were caught in a Project Veritas video mocking Abbott for his disability, and Davis has made gaffes relating to his handicap before, as when she said that he hadn’t “walked a day in her shoes.”
2. She is a member of a party with supporters in the media ready to pounce on any Republican who makes a similarly provocative reference to an opposing candidate’s race, religion, ethnicity, gender or “abled status.” The double standard is certainly a campaign boon to Democrats, but they have to take advantage of it a bit more subtly than this.
3. What is primarily wrong with the ad, however, isn’t the wheelchair, or the use of tactics that would called an appeal to bigotry if they were used by Republicans. It is that the arguments the ad seem to be making are stupid, unfair and wrong, and ones that Davis, who is a lawyer, must know are stupid and wrong, or she is stupid and wrong. Continue reading
This ugly beast keeps raising its head out of the muck, and it is the duty of every citizen, Republican or Democrat, who believes in justice and due process under law to beat it back with heavy clubs.
The Republican Governors Association is defending one of its own, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, with a series of ads attacking state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, an attorney who is her Democratic opposition in the gubernatorial race. The message of the ad, as summarized by a voice-over, is that “Sheheen defended violent criminals who abused women and went to work setting them free.”
False. Continue reading
Once again we confront a variation of the “Duck Dynasty” issue of entertainers losing their jobs over their expression of political, religious or other opinions that have nothing to do with their performances.
Actress María Conchita Alonso, who has been an outspoken advocate of conservative policies on occasion, was recruited by the camp of the Tea Party candidate for governor of California, Tim Donnelly, to appear in a campaign video. Donnelly is a hardliner on illegal immigration, or as supporters of open borders and stolen U.S. benefits of citizenship like to call it to blur the issues, “undocumented workers.” Following the ad’s debut, many Hispanic residents of San Francisco protested and threatened to boycott the Brava Theater Center’s production of a Spanish-language version of “The Vagina Monologues,” which was starred the actress.
Not any more. Alonso “resigned”from the cast—actually she was the cast, since “The Vagina Monologues” is a one actress show—which means she was forced to quit or be fired. Continue reading
The next U.S. Senator from Virginia? You could do worse! In fact, Virginia might.
I’m going to vote for Tim Kaine, the ex-Democratic Governor of Virginia running against George Allen, the Republican trying to regain the seat he lost in 2006 to James Webb. After the slimy, dishonest campaign Allen ran against Webb ( full disclosure: I went to law school with the Senator, and know him personally. A more honorable, courageous, principled man doesn’t walk the earth), Allen lost any chance of a vote from me forever, and it wouldn’t matter if his opponent was a toilet brush.
Nonetheless, Kaine’s ads are making me think he’s only a step or two above toilet brush level. Especially outrageous is this line, from a “war on women” ad “approved” by Tim Kaine, intoned by an announcer as the camera shows a woman:
“Allen would take away her Constitutional rights by reversing Roe v. Wade.”
Even counting “v.” as a word, this inexcusable statement includes four misrepresentations in just twelve words, an impressive total, though I’m sure Bill Clinton has topped it at one point of another. Let’s see: Continue reading
In the view of many (including me), the exact moment Jimmy Carter lost the 1980 Presidential election was when he used the closing minutes of the only Presidential debate to spin the tale, dubious at best, about his solemn conversation with his daughter Amy. Carter claimed that he asked her about her assessment of the most important issue facing the nation, and that “the control of nuclear arms” was his thirteen-year-old advisor’s sage response. The story seemed insincere and manipulative, all the worse for Carter’s placing his answer in his daughter’s mouth for tactical purposes. Carter used Amy as a prop and a ventriloquist’s dummy. Even if the story was true, the tactic was offensive.
Here in Virginia, a closely contested “purple” state, the tactic of using children to carry political messages in full bloom. An ad for Republican Senate candidate George Allen, attacking opponent Tim Kaine and President Obama for their pro-abortion stance shows a series of cute “potential” children, facing the camera and telling us what they would have been in their lives—a mother, a fireman, a soldier (no homeless, serial killers or drug dealers, oddly enough)—if their existence hadn’t been snuffed out in the womb. Meanwhile, President Obama recently descended to the rock bottom level of the rest of his campaign by calling Mitt Romney “a bullshitter” by placing the epithet in the mouth on an anonymous 6-year-old girl.
With that kind of leadership model to follow, I suppose it shouldn’t be too shocking that far worse was on the way. A pro-Obama group called “The Future Children Project” has released an ad that represents a new low in the use of children as programmed messengers. Created by advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, the spot shows a chorus of dead-eyed, sad children, shot in black and white, singing from a dystopian future about what America became because it didn’t re-elect Barack Obama. The lyrics: Continue reading
Some Ethics-related conclusions on Wednesday’s second Presidential debate:
Were the candidates uncivil?
I didn’t think so. There were a lot of Twitter comments about Gov. Romney being disrespectful to the President. The deference due to the President of the United States isn’t an issue when debates hew to the formal, detached format of the past. In those debates, the tone of the exchanges are so muted that the two candidates could be in different time zones. Once a different tone is set, with either candidate directly challenging statements while the other candidate is speaking, that tradition has fled, as it did last night. The challenger to a sitting President can hardly be told that he needs to be deferential in a debate; that is the equivalent of asking him to fight with one hand tied behind his back. I thought that both candidates were within the bounds of civility under the circumstances. It was certainly not the civility that I complimented in the second debate—it was a heated, sometimes rancorous argument, but it was the argument of two passionate, forceful, serious public servants, and it served the public well. Neither candidate displayed the contemptuous, rude attitude that Joe Biden adopted in the Vice-Presidential debate. Biden crossed the civility line, but the President and his challenger did not.
Was the moderator biased? Continue reading