The latest addition to the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List is #50 A, The Underwood Maneuver, or “That’s in the past.” It is a sub-rationalization of #50, The Apathy Defense, or “Nobody Cares,” and the 67th dishonest, illogical or otherwise ethics-busting excuse for wrongful conduct on the list.
This rationalization has the honor of being named for a President, though a fictional and sinister one: Frank Underwood, the devious, psychopathic, lying and murdering Chief Executive, played by Kevin Spacey, who leads the den of thieves and blackguards who populate the fictional Washington, D.C. in the Netflix drama, “House of Cards.” I owe the series my gratitude for reminding me of this classic rationalization, which is a favorite not only of President Underwood and his Lady Macbeth-like First Lady, but also—just coincidentally—of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Indeed, Hillary’s current campaign is built on it.
The Underwood Maneuver is versatile. Frank’s favorite use of it is when he is seeking assistance from one of the gazillion elected officials, appointees and other whom he has lied to or metaphorically stabbed in the back. “Why should I trust you now, when you betrayed me?” these poor souls are always asking. “Oh, but that was in the past!” says Frank, in his gentle South Carolina accent. “This is now. We need each other now. What’s done is done. Let’s move forward.” Continue reading →
Ugh. I can’t let this pass.
Yesterday I happened upon Lincoln Chafee on one of the Sunday shows, giving his elevator pitch for why he should be President. You may recall that Chafee, former Republican Senator and Governor of Rhode Island, turned independent after being defeated for re-election and now is following Bernie Sanders’ example, declaring himself a Democrat for the purpose of getting nominated. Chafee is another politician, like the Bush bothers and Hillary Clinton, who owes his initial political prominence to being related to a popular political figure rather than his own innate abilities. As he made obvious the more he spoke…
His two primary campaign positions were 1) “Wage peace”—whatever that means. This is right up there with John Lennon songs as serious policy discourse, though I’m sure ISIS is fascinated by the concept, and 2) Adopt the metric system. Chafee borrowed this from the idea machine known as the Andrew Johnson administration, as Andy was the first President to officially acknowledge the benefits of the U.S. adopting the less eccentric measurement system used by Europe. I’m sure we all can agree that this is one of the most pressing issues facing the country today.
However, Chafee really got my attention, and sparked this post, when he attempted to combine his two prime objectives, which is no mean trick. I tried to find a transcript, video or a news report to document this, but so far I have failed: maybe everyone is trying to be nice. I swear I am not making this up, though I wish I were.
Chafee argued that the United States should adopt the Metric system because it invaded Iraq and didn’t find the weapons of mass destruction.
He really did. Continue reading →
Come on, O.J! If he can do it, so can you!
Isaac Turnbaugh of Randolph, Vermont recently confessed to the 2002 shooting murder of a co-worker, using a rifle to kill the victim as he was at work in the American Flatbread Co, stirring a pot of sauce. A jury acquitted Turnbaugh of the charges in 2004. In July, Turnbaugh contacted police and said, jury verdict notwithstanding, he indeed shot Declan Lyons in the head with the rifle and wished to surrender to authorities. Too bad, they told him. In the eyes of the law, you are “not guilty,” and have to stay that way. Double jeopardy and all that.
Your ethics quiz for today:
If you have been acquitted of a murder and have a guilty conscience about it, what is your most ethical course of action? Continue reading →