Post-Election Morning Ethics, Early Edition [UPDATED]

hillary-loses

Initial ethics observations following an amazing night in American history:

1. Give Trump a chance, and take note of those who will not.

He is now in the most difficult job in the nation at the age of 70, with less relevant experience and preparation than any previous occupant of the office. For once, it’s a good thing that he’s an egomaniac and a narcissist, because otherwise he might be perseverating in terror right now. One cannot say that he begins with the most daunting set of problems any POTUS has ever faced, but it’s close. Give him a chance. Nobody becomes President wanting to fail, and not wanting to do a good job for his country and his fellow citizens.  Begin with that, and let’s see what happens.

2. Those who are capable of being fair and objective should salute the shades of Mr. Madison, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Adams, Mr. Hamilton and their colleagues. The Founders wanted a system that was capable of peaceful political upheaval when the public was dissatisfied and demanded change, and their unique creation was strutting its stuff last night. So much has taken place over the last year—the last eight years, really—that has undermined our democracy that it is refreshing to see its resilience and vitality. As before, I still believe that Trump is a cautionary tale about the danger when people who don’t understand leadership, ethics and government become the majority. On the other hand, it’s their country too, and the “elites” (how I detest that word) forgot that, repeatedly, shamelessly, and in many ways.

Jefferson would have reviled Donald Trump, but he would approve of the uprising.

3. Trump’s victory speech last night was widely reviewed as statesmanlike and gracious, which it was. It was also unusually coherent for him. Still, who can’t give a gracious victory speech? The effusive praise being lavished on this shows how low expectations are.

4. Hillary Clinton’s decision to not to appear in person at her headquarters and concede, also graciously, was a failure of character. On CNN, ex-Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and ex-Obama flack Van Jones got in an argument over this, but for once in his life, Lewandowski  was right. Given the backdrop of Clinton and the media questioning whether Trump would “accept defeat,” the decision by Clinton was just plain wrong: unfair to Trump, unfair to her supporters, hypocritical. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Keith Olbermann

Welcome back, Keith!

Keith Olbermann, the talented, arrogant, self-righteous progressive scold whose “Countdown” show on MSNBC managed to make Sean Hannity look fair and balanced, returned to the tube yesterday on Al Gore’s nascent, and apparently shameless, new TV news commentary channel, Current TV. Olbermann, who despite his rhetorical gifts is unwilling to brave dissent or ideological balance on his show (something that cannot be said, for example, of Fox News bloviator Bill O’Reilly or even Hannity), did manage to make himself seem reasonable by comparison by welcoming and fawning over guests Michael Moore and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, neither of whom ever met a progressive agenda-bolstering lie they didn’t like.

But never mind: Keith locked up his Ethics Dunce by re-introducing his “Worst Person in the World” segment, which he had solemnly, if unnecessarily, jettisoned on MSNBC to demonstrate his new commitment to civility in the wake of Rep. Giffords’ shooting in Tucson. Continue reading

Palin, Ifill, Contempt and Respect: A Cautionary Tale

One reason why it is both right and prudent to treat others respectfully is that we seldom can know the true measure of an individual’s abilities and character. All human beings are complex, and all deserve an almost limitless benefit of the doubt before it is wise to dismiss them as unworthy of decent, respectful treatment. When we assume that someone whom we really don’t know very well is stupid, or evil, or not worth paying attention to, we not only treat them badly, we also put ourselves in peril, both of violating the Golden Rule, and also of looking foolish. Mockery, the child of contempt, is especially dangerous. When we mock others, we assume a superiority that may prove to be illusory.

Have I fallen victim to this ethical error? You betcha.

Which brings us to Sarah Palin. Continue reading