For the most part, the media and the culture have given Vice-President Joe Biden a pass on his ebullient violation of a civil discourse taboo, on national TV and during an official ceremony, caught on a microphone for all to hear. That only makes the consequences of Biden’s inability to control his potty-mouth worse, though not for Biden. Biden has made so many embarrassing public utterances that he is treated by the media and much of the public as sort of a crazy uncle, someone we expect to do and say outrageous things because he can’t help himself (it stands as the smoking gun proof of the media’s bias against Sarah Palin that her verbal mistakes were—and are—pounced upon and used as evidence of her incompetence, while her Democratic counterpart’s career-long fondness for saying silly and outrageous things was —and is—excused.) But national leaders set cultural standards, and the shrugging off of Biden’s F-bomb permanently lowers our standards of civility as much as “Baby killer!” or “You lie!” So thanks, Joe, for making America just a little bit less gentile, just a little bit cruder. We knew you had it in you. Continue reading
The Unethical and Illogical Smearing of Justice Dept. Lawyers
The Senate Republicans, bolstered by the political Right, are angrily criticizing Attorney General Eric Holder for having former Gitmo defense lawyers on the Justice Department anti-terror team. This demonstrates many things, none of them good, some of them sad.
At least seven Justice Department lawyers previously worked on the legal defenses of Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Apparently this makes them terrorist sympathizers in the eyes of the Angry Right. This is the sad part. A flat learning curve is always sad. Continue reading
Michael Steele: G.O.P. Ethics as Usual
It wasn’t George Bush, the Iraq War, John McCain or even the economy that made the GOP a minority party. It was arrogance, corruption and sliminess. The smug Machiavellian tactics of Tom DeLay; the just-look-the-other-way tolerance for the Mark Foleys and the Duke Cunninghams; the hypocrisy of Bill Frist and Ralph Reed; the widespread affection for crooked lobbyists like Jack Abramoff; the Bizarro World ethics of Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzalez…the bottom line was that you just couldn’t trust these people not to lie, sell favors, abuse their power, or dive head first into conflicts of interest. Continue reading
Rep. Alan Grayson: “How Dare You Imitate Me?”
Florida Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson is what is clinically called “a piece of work.” He yields to no one in his defiance of basic civility in discourse, not even Rep. Joe “You Lie!” Wilson. Grayson is the Congressman whose explanation of the GOP position on health care was that “they want you to die.” He said that Dick Cheney speaks with “blood dripping from his teeth.” His mode of debate and persuasion, in other words, is insult and hyperbole. Respect for opposing views: zilch. Civility grade: F. Continue reading
Proof of Dead Ethics: Attacking Your Adversary’s Family
It is a standard threat in movies about the Mob and TV dramas about thugs: “Do what I tell you, or your family’s dead.” The tactic of going after loved ones as a particularly awful form of revenge is a calling card of the truly despicable. That is why the Valerie Plame scandal so damaged the Bush Administration’s popularity, even though it was never clear (and still isn’t) that anyone there really did try to “out” Plame’s CIA status to get even with her obnoxious husband’s fueling opposition to the Iraq invasion. Just the plausible suggestion that Vice President Cheney’s gang may have committed such an ethical outrage was too much to bear.
You would think, then, that those who most revile Cheney’s no-holds-barred approach to political combat would be the least likely to emulate him. You would be wrong. Continue reading
The Ethics of Dithering
At some point, delaying an important leadership decision stops being resposnible, and begins being unethical.
The White House put out word today that President Obama’s decision regarding troop levels in Afghanistan is on the verge of being revealed. When it is, a few things are certain. If his decision is to increase troop levels to the degree requested by the Pentagon, Obama’s pacifist Left supporters will be furious. If it is to withhold more troops and prepare for U.S, withdrawal, supporters of an aggressive war policy on the Right will go on the attack. If it is anything in between, neither of these camps will be happy.
It is also certain that nobody will be able to tell if what the President has decided is the “right” decision. Continue reading