The ethics news today begins with the death of Colin Powell, who died this morning, according to his family. He deserves the accolades for his service and leadership skills, but in the Ethics Alarms annals, he ranks as an ethics disappointment.
As the obituaries will certainly mention, Powell, the U.S.’s first African American national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of state, would have also been its first black President if he had been willing to run. Shades of Eisenhower, he was courted as a Presidential candidate by both Republicans and Democrats before deciding in 1995 that the challenge would take him away from his family, and acceding to his wife’s objections and fears (she was reportedly afraid he would be assassinated). Thus instead of the bi-partisan, unifying figure of Colin Powell, we got Bush, and then the hollow, racially divisive Barack Obama. And here we are.
Yes, I lay much of what has happened to the nation in the 21st Century at Powell’s feet. The majority of our Presidents sacrificed greatly to seek and accept the office; I do not forgive Powell for passing the buck when he was in a unique position to unify the nation and particularly the races at a turning point in our history. He was called: it is as simple as that. As a good citizen and soldier, when you are called, you have an ethical obligation to answer. Powell did not meet that obligation. America is much the worse for it.
I finally grabbed a barf bag and read the New York Times attack piece from the weekend titled “A Week of Whoppers.” Silly me: Donald Trump lies so often that I simply took it on faith that the Times would have no trouble finding real and substantive lies to expose from The Donald. Instead, what I found were a few genuine lies of no great significance lumpod with statements that were obviously not meant literally, off-the-cuff remarks that any objective listener would assume were just generalizations, self-evident hyperbole, or opinion. None rose to the level of outright attempts to deceive on the magnitude of “I never sent or received classified material,” or “wiped? Like with a cloth?”
Needless to say, but I’ll still say it, none came within a Washington mile of lies like “I did not have sex with that woman,” which is one Hillary Clinton attempted to facilitate. It is depressing that any reporter, editor or reader would find the analysis that all 31 of these alleged “lies by Trump were “lies” fair, rational or convincing. Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman prove themselves to be partisan hacks with this weak piece of anti-Trump hype. The statements flagged here are so clearly the result of a concerted anti-Trump bias that editors must have assumed that few would actually read them, and just take the headline and sheer size of the feature as proof that the Times had legitimately proven massive dishonesty.
And it had: its own.
Here are all 31 alleged Trump “lies,” with the Ethics Alarms verdicts on each. Continue reading
Why yes, this IS the thanks you get, General!
From the New York Times (Aug. 18):
Pressed by the F.B.I. about her email practices at the State Department, Hillary Clinton told investigators that former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell had advised her to use a personal email account.The account is included in the notes the Federal Bureau of Investigation handed over to Congress on Tuesday, relaying in detail the three-and-a-half-hour interview with Mrs. Clinton in early July that led to the decision by James B. Comey, the bureau’s director, not to pursue criminal charges against her.
From Page Six:
Colin Powell has broken his silence about his alleged involvement in the Hillary Clinton email scandal, saying her team is falsely trying to blame him.When asked by the FBI about her email use at the State Department, Clinton reportedly told investigators that former Secretary of State Powell had advised her to use a personal email account at a private dinner. But Powell, who had said last week in a statement that he had no recollection of the conversation, told Page Six at Saturday’s Apollo in the Hamptons event, “The truth is she was using it (her personal email) for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did [during my term as secretary of state]. “Her people have been trying to pin it on me.”
When asked why Clinton’s team were attempting to blame him, he responded, “Why do you think?”
Conclusion: Hillary Clinton lied to the F.B.I.
Ethics musings: Continue reading
I will file this under “disillusionment.”
Another prominent African-America leader lept on board the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmmerman Ethics Train Wreck Sunday, when General Colin Powell aided and abetted the increasingly successful effort by divisive activists to re-write the history of the George Zimmerman trial into an example of a racist all-white jury freeing the murderer of a black man in defiance of the evidence and justice.
Appearing on “Face the Nation,” the former Secretary of State said that he thought the jury’s verdict “will be seen as a questionable judgment on the part of the judicial system down there,” adding that he didn’t know if it would have “staying power.” Powell’s comment was an especially pusillanimous fog on the issue, not explicitly endorsing the criticism of the verdict—“Now I never said it was questionable, just that it will be seen that way,” the General can claim—but appearing to support it nonetheless. How weak, irresponsible, and disappointing. Continue reading
"My wife, may she always be right, but my wife right or wrong!"
“Simply put, I find myself caught between two duties. I love my country; I love my family more.”
Thus did Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels remove himself from consideration for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, breaking the hearts of Mitt Romney haters everywhere. Seldom have eighteen words launched so much ethical analysis, or what passes for it in the media.
Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, for example, applauded the Governor’s priorities while accusing Daniels of “throwing his wife under the bus.” Her point was that Daniels did not have to make it so crystal clear that his wife vetoed his own desire to run, that he should have simply said that he declined, and leave it at that. Indeed, that would have been chivalrous and kind. For a public servant and politician, however, it would also have been dishonest and wrong. Just as the public needs to know why a public figure is running for president (Gingrich: Because he’s deluded….Trump: Because its good for his TV ratings…), it needs to know why a public figure is not. Continue reading