Unethical Quote Of The Month: Democratic Operative Paul Begala

“Voters do not give a shit. They do not even give a fart… Find me one persuadable voter who agrees with HRC on the issues but will vote against her because she has a non-archival-compliant email system and I’ll kiss your ass in Macy’s window and say it smells like roses.”

—Clinton enabler/mouthpiece/consultant Paul Begala, quoted in Politico’s essay by Gabriel Debendetti 

roses

Begala, just in case you’ve forgotten, was the most loathsome of Bill Clinton’s paid defenders—deceitful, smug, arrogant, Machiavellian. I’ll confess my bias: along with Karl Rove, David Axelrod, Dick Morris, James Carville and his wife, Mary Matalin, and others whose names I am mercifully unaware of so far, Begala and his species are the scourge of the political culture as well as democracy itself. Their stock in trade is misrepresentation, and their objective is to make Americans ignorant, uncritical, lazy, compliant, and gullible. The contempt they have for Americans is palpable, as in Begala’s quote. Continue reading

Time to Enforce the Hatch Act on Karl Rove

The Hatch Act is a 1939 law that prohibits the use of federal money to support political causes. It’s an important law that many presidential administrations have nicked, dinged and outright violated,  without enforcement or consequences. But a thorough report by an independent federal agency shows that the Bush White House routinely violated the Act by creating a “political boiler room” that coordinated Republican campaign activities nationwide.

The report by the Office of Special Counsel finds that the Bush administration’s Office of Political Affairs, overseen by Karl Rove, served  as a virtual extension of the Republican National Committee, developing a “target list” of Congressional races, organizing dozens of briefings for political appointees to press them to work for party candidates, and sending cabinet officials out to help these campaigns. This included helping coordinate fund-raising by Republican candidates and persuading Bush  political appointees to help with Republican voter-turnout efforts.The report was based on over 100,000 pages of documents and interviews with eighty Bush administration officials in a three year investigation. Continue reading

Flunking the Keith Olbermann Test

Every so often there is a news story that exposes the serious deficiencies in the ethics comprehension in the public and the media. The Clinton-Lewinsky scandal was one such story; Major League Baseball’s steroid controversy was another. I confess: I didn’t see the Keith Olbermann suspension for making political donations as having the potential to be another test of ethical competence, but it is. And almost everyone is flunking it.

The facts of the Olbermann incident are deceptively simple. The rant-prone, self-annointed champion of the Angry Left violated an NBC ethics policy that forbade its reporters and commentators from making political contributions, on the theory, absurd when applied to Olbermann,  that it compromises their reputation for objectivity. Olbermann has no objectivity, or reputation for it either. Nonetheless, he intentionally and flagrantly violated his employer’s policy. That alone justifies his suspension, whether or not the policy is idiotic. And it is.

But Olbermann’s fans and critics alike are all over the internet attaching rationalizations and flawed ethical reasoning to the episode. Such as: Continue reading

Accountability Lessons, Oil Spill Ethics, and Obama’s Leadership Failure

President Obama has shown his inexperience and unfamiliarity with executive leadership ethics in many ways since he took office, but none are likely to be more damaging than his unease with accountability. He had better learn fast.

It is not surprising that so many mayors lose their jobs as the result of blizzards. Budget limitations guarantee that a city’s snow removal capabilities are set to the most likely levels of snowfall and not the extraordinary, once-in-a-decade event, yet when that once-in-a-decade event arrives, it will not do for the mayor to blame the budget or the weather or the City Council or the lack of a magic wand. The public doesn’t want to hear any of that: they want to be able to drive to work. They want the leader to fix the problem, because that’s what leaders are supposed to do. If a leader can’t fix the problem, he had better look as if he is doing everything possible and impossible to try. And he had better make it clear that he understands and accepts that it is his job. Continue reading

How We Will Know When the GOP Can Be Trusted

The Democrats swept into power in the wake of an unpopular war,  economic collapse, and perhaps most of all, indisputable proof that too many Republican lawmakers were venal, corrupt, arrogant, and unworthy of power. It has taken only a year from the promises of ethical reform made by Speaker Pelosi and President Obama to seem insincere, and Republican’s believe that this time public distrust will work to their favor, returning them to the power they abused. They may be right. Still, the public is not stupid. If Republicans intend to campaign as the party of fiscal responsibility and honest government, they must demonstrate that the commitment is more than a masquerade. Time and credibility, however, are in short supply. Continue reading