Unethical Presidential Candidates Sunday (EXTENDED): Hillary Clinton’s Amazing Unethical, Ethical, Unethical, Unethical,Unethical, Unethical Non-Apology

fireworksWOW!

Jethro Gibbs, the hero of CBS’s long-running hit procedural drama NCIS, enlightens his charges with “Gibbs’ Rules.” As I have mentioned before, I like Gibbs’ Rules, but one of them is almost always dead wrong. The most cited of the rules is #6: “Never apologize — It’s a sign of weakness,” a rule that Gibbs and the show’s writers borrowed from John Wayne’s character in “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.” ( “Never apologize, mister, it. It’s a sign of weakness.”). Sincerely apologizing for genuine harm, mistakes or misconduct is not weakness, but a sign of character, accountability, honesty, courage, respect and fairness.

Hillary Clinton doesn’t believe in accountability, honesty, courage, respect and fairness, so it’s not surprising that she never apologizes. Neither does Donald Trump. It’s a clanging, earsplitting ethics alarm for anyone seeking a leader, for this means that they do not have the integrity or decency to admit genuine wrongdoing, and seek instead to maintain the illusion that they are infallible. It is even possible that they are in the throes of Rationalization #14, Self-validating Virtue, the mark of narcissists. Refusing to apologize is a terrible sign for a leader, a manager, even a friend.

Out of this ominous character flaw has come one of the most remarkable non-apologies in decades. When prompted by MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell to apologize for her mishandling—her intentional mishandling, remember— of the e-mails she sent and received while Secretary of State, the Remarkable, Astounding, Ethics-Defying Candidate Hillary Clinton told her…

“At the end of the day, I am sorry that this has been confusing to people and has raised a lot of questions, but there are answers to all these questions.And I take responsibility, and it wasn’t the best choice.”

Sound the trumpets and summon the sculptors! That is an unethical non apology for the ages: Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Elyse Siegel and Craig Kanalley of the Huffington Post

It should go without saying that before you author a post about “unforgettable lies” to a popular website, you should probably know what a lie is. This detail seems to have eluded Elyse Siegel and Craig Kanally, however. Their Glenn Beck-inspired retrospective of lies by prominent Americans acts to further muddle the public’s understanding of a basic concept, degrading communication and spreading misinformation.

A lie is a statement that intentionally misrepresents facts in order to mislead or deceive someone. A mistake is not a lie. When one makes a statement believing it to be true, and subsequent revelations prove that the statement to be false, that is not lying, though those who want to ascribe bad motives to the statement may incorrectly characterize it as one. Such a statement is not a lie even when it is made recklessly, or out of ignorance, stupidity, or misplaced trust.

Nor is a broken promise a lie, if the promise was sincere when it was made. Promise-keeping is a different virtue than honesty.Then there are disagreements over definitions. Some terms have more than one meaning, and using one of them when a listener is thinking of a different definition may be poor communication or sloppy thinking, but it is not a lie unless it is intended to deceive.

The Huffington Post piece blurs these important distinctions, and this is a problem. Lying suggests malice, and it has become increasingly common for civic debate to feature the epithet of “Liar!” being directed at writers, pundits and politicians who are simply stating sincere opinions. In fact, many of the bloggers at the Huntington Post do this routinely, which may be why no editor pointed out that Siegel and Kanalley’s post showed that they didn’t understand what they were writing about. In fact, by their definition of the word, the post contains several lies.

It doesn’t, though. It is just wrong.

You can pick out the non-lies in their honest but incompetent post here. By my count, at least five and maybe six of the “lies” are not lies at all. Of course, the authors would not have had to resort to non-lies if they weren’t so dedicated to featuring conservatives and Republicans on their list. There are plenty of clear-cut lies by Democrats and non-political types that were worthy of the list if their post didn’t have to double as a political hit piece.  Where, for example, are Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s serial claims of Viet Nam combat service? Isn’t Ted Kennedy’s infamous statement about his negligent homicide of Mary Jo Kopechne just a bit more famous and important than Glenn Beck’s fib at his Lincoln Memorial rally? How about former Justice Souter’s claim, under oath before the U.S. Senate, that he had never given any thought to the abortion issue? Or Senator Roland Burris’s statement to the Senate that he had no contact with Rod Blagojevich prior to being appointed to his seat, a statement he recanted as soon as he was confirmed?

These were all real lies, significant, intentional, and infamous.