Obama’s Preference: Ethically Correct, Historically Impossible

“I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president,” President Obama told Diane Sawyer. That is the right attitude, unquestionably. It correctly places responsibility over popularity, accountability over expediency, courage and conviction over cowardice, and generally endorses ethics and duty over unethical considerations.

The statement is admirable, but interestingly, almost completely unrealistic. For historically it has proven virtually impossible for a one-term President to be good, or even successful. Continue reading

A Brief Note on Leadership Ethics, for Sen. Kirk and Others

Attempting to explain Martha Coakley’s difficulties convincing a Democratic populace in Massachusetts that it should elect a Democratic U.S. Senator, the current place-holder in the seat she is running for, Sen. Paul Kirk, said this: “It comes from the fact that Obama as president has had to deal with all these major crises he inherited: the banks, fiscal stimulus…”

You should not have to be a Republican or an Obama opponent to see the ethics fouls in that statement, which echoes what has been, sadly, something of a default position of the Administration whenever things go sour. Continue reading

Courting Confusion: Unethical Candidates for Unethical Voters

In Chicago, Rep. Jesse L. Jackson will be running for re-election against…Jesse L. Jackson, a political novice. Why is he–that is, Jesse #2—running? Obviously, he hopes to confuse enough voters to steal an election, and I do mean steal. When a candidate intentionally seeks to capitalize on voter apathy and ignorance, that is dishonest, unfair and cynical. The Chicago Congressional election is a blatant example, but not the only one, or even the most egregious. For in Massachusetts, the critical special election for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy may well be decided by a block of civic slackers and fools who think that Independent candidate Joseph Kennedy is from the same family that gave us Jack, Bobby, Ted, Abraham, Martin and John…wait a minute, I got carried away there. Just the first three. Continue reading

Team Obama:Reinforcing National Apathy and Warped Priorities

President Obama is re-scheduling his State of the Union message to avoid preempting of the premiere of “Lost,” the cult sci-fi series that will be starting its final season.

Let me say that again so it sinks in: President Obama is re-scheduling his State of the Union message to avoid preempting of the premiere of “Lost.”

Continue reading

TMZ’s JFK: Fake Photo, Same Ethics Questions

I love this, I really do. Yes, the JFK photo found by TMZ and trumpeted elsewhere, including here, is a hoax.

Since the photo conveys no new or false  information about JFK’s proclivities, its main significance is that TMZ was sloppy, and since it is well established that it traffics in gossip and rumor anyway, this means Ethics Alarms and others were gullible and careless.

I apologize.

A few points:

  • All the questions raised in the post stand.
  • This reaffirms my conviction that postng a hoax of any kind on the web, whether photo or otherwise, without clearly designating it as such, is unethical.
  • Let us all give thanks  for “The Smoking Gun.”

JFK the Philanderer: What Does It Mean?

Honest, I’m not picking on the Kennedy’s. That this surfaced today is a coincidence. But if you cross Ted Kennedy and Tiger Woods, you get Jack Kennedy, and what should appear on the web this morning but a surprising photograph:

TMZ, the celebrity trash website that likes to publish paparazzi photos of supermodels with spinach between their teeth, has a genuine scoop: it has gotten its cyber-hands on a photograph that appears to show a bevy of naked women frolicking on a yacht as a young Senator Jack Kennedy lounges nearby.  [UPDATE: As explained by The Smoking Gun here, and discussed in a later Ethics Alarms post here, the photo was a hoax. The ethical issues raised by it and discussed below are still valid, however.] Continue reading

The Wrong Lesson from Tiger’s Fall

So that’s the lesson, is it?

As the year end lists almost unanimously “award” Tiger Woods the distinction of engineering the Scandal of the Year, pundits also seem to be nearing consensus on the lesson we should take from the golfer’s fall, which is: “Don’t make athletes and celebrities your role models or heroes. They are human beings like everyone else, and are guaranteed to disappoint you.”

Oh, I see…it’s all our fault. 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

Dallas Forgotten and the Duty to Remember

Yesterday was November 22. According to the vast majority of the news and entertainment media, it was no different from any other day, apparently. In all likelihood, the same was true of most Americans. “Oh, yeah…November 22! Better buy that turkey!”

November 22 is not like any other day in America, however. It is the date in 1963 that John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 46 years old and the 35th President of the United States of America, was assassinated on the streets of Dallas. Continue reading