No. Continue reading
Sen. Lisa Murchowski
Schemes, Slander and Deception: The Most Unethical Maneuvers of Campaign 2010
Well, I have to admit they were creative. And despicable.
2010’s most unethical maneuvers ran the gamut from lying to zombie exploitation, from false identity to extortion. Unfortunately, most of the worst stunts were pulled by or on behalf of Democrats; I say unfortunately because I try awfully hard to keep these kinds of lists in partisan balance. But the Democrats and their progressive fans were especially slimy this time around, and it it figures. When the going gets tough, the tough get unethical, and it is the Democrats who are facing ballot box carnage. They have been pushing the envelope, to say the least, in their campaign tactics, and I think it probably made their situation more dire rather than less.
Here, in reverse order of ethical outrageousness, are the Ten Most Unethical Maneuvers of Campaign 2010: Continue reading
Ethics Alarms and ProEthics Presents “The Untrustworthy 20”: Making Ethics the Priority in Election 2010
The key word, in ethics, in government, in all relationships that matter, is trust. Trust is the connective tissue that holds societies together: it can be strengthened by demonstrations of ethical values like integrity, loyalty, honesty, civility, responsibility, competence, and courage, and weakened by proof of unethical traits like fecklessness, dishonesty, lack of independent judgment, selfishness, lack of diligence, greed and cowardice. For decades, the American public’s trust in its elected representatives and governmental institutions—and other critical institutions like the news media and the legal system—has been in steep decline. This is not because of some inexplicable public fad or the poisoning of public perceptions by an unholy alliance of the pop culture and Fox news. The decline in trust has occurred because a significant proportion of America’s elected leaders have not been trustworthy, and the reason this has been true is that American voters have thus far refused to make proof of ethical values their main priority in electing them. Because politicians know this, they feel empowered to engage in corruption, self-enrichment and deception in the confidence that partisan supporters will vote for them anyway, as long as they mouth the same policy positions and deliver their quota of pork, earmarks, and government contracts.
This, of course, does not benefit of country in the long run, but weakens it. It also creates an increasingly arrogant and power-obsessed political class to which ethical values are like Halloween costumes, donned at regular intervals to disguise who they really are. The core principles of the democratic process do not matter to many of these people, and they don’t see why they should matter: witness House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal to debate her opponent because she knows she can win easily without giving her constituents a fair chance to compare the competing candidates. For most voters, over all, this approach still works, at least at the polls, so obviously untrustworthy officials continue to be elected, and by their conduct continue to destroy public trust.
I was discussing this issue at recent seminar in regard to the candidacy of Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Attorney General who is running for the state’s U.S. Senate seat. Blumenthal, to be blunt, is a proven liar and fraud on a grand scale. He intentionally misled the public for years about his military record, and assumed the false mantle of a combat veteran. When his deception was uncovered, he refused to be accountable, absurdly casting the repeated lies about his own past as mere slips of the tongue. Yet a Connecticut citizen at my table proclaimed that he “didn’t care;” that Blumenthal’s policies were what mattered, not his ethics. This is an astoundingly illogical mindset, but a common one. Power tends to tempt and corrupt individuals who have scruples and integrity: what is it likely to produce with an elected official that has neither integrity nor scruples to begin with? If we elect representatives who are untrustworthy, we are likely to be betrayed sooner or later, one way or the other. Worse, we send the message to future candidates, both in and out of office, that integrity and honesty don’t matter to voters, like my Connecticut friend. We thus get more untrustworthy candidates, more untrustworthy representatives, and constantly declining public trust in government on all levels.
Public trust cannot keep declining indefinitely, you know. Eventually, a government that cannot be trusted will collapse.
Just as addressing America’s fiscal crisis will take hard measures and sacrifice, addressing its equally dangerous crisis in trust requires sacrifice too. It will require voters to establish the principle that being “effective,” experienced or having the “right” policy positions will not be enough to justify electing or re-electing individuals who are demonstrably trustworthy. Voters must establish untrustworthiness as absolutely disqualifying a candidate for election to public office. Any ethical, honest candidate with integrity must be seen as per se preferable to a corrupt, dishonest or unethical candidate, regardless of past achievements or policy views.
To this end, Ethics Alarms presents its list of the least trustworthy candidates for national office in the upcoming election. For reasons of space and convenience, it is limited to twenty members, which is obviously and sadly far too few: in the more than 500 races for Congress, the U.S. Senate and governorships nation-wide, the number of untrustworthy candidates undoubtedly numbers in the hundreds. This list is illustrative, not inclusive, but it is my assessment of the worst of the worst.
What makes a candidate so untrustworthy that he or she deserves to be rejected no matter who the opposition may be? This is what I like to call the “Lawn Chair Principle,” when electing a lawn chair is preferable to electing the human alternative. Let’s begin with what doesn’t justify determining that a candidate is necessarily untrustworthy: Continue reading
Murchowski’s Unethical Zombie Endorsement
Former Senator Ted Stevens is dead, the victim of an August plane crash. Yet there he is on TV, enthusiastically endorsing defeated Republican Senator Lisa Murchowski as she runs as a write-in candidate against Joe Miller, the man who beat her in the primary for the GOP nomination.
I don’t care that Ted Stevens taped an endorsement of Murchowski’s primary candidacy before he died, and it doesn’t matter that Stevens’ family approved the use of the zombie endorsement now. Murchowski’s use of the video is doubly unethical. It is misleading and dishonest, because it implies that Stevens endorsed the Senator for her write-in campaign…impossible, because he died before she lost the primary. Continue reading
Next On The Tea Party Disgrace Parade: Joe Miller
Does anyone know what ethics is in Alaska?
Apparently nobody who runs for office up there. Fresh off of defeating GOP Senator Lisa Murchowski (who became senator in a blatant act of nepotism by her father) in the primary for this years U.S. Senate race, thanks to the endorsement of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (who abandoned her post to cash in on her media fame), Joe Miller announced to the press that he will no longer answer reporters’ questions about his background and personal life.”We’ve drawn a line in the sand,” he said. “You can ask me about background, you can ask me about personal issues, I’m not going to answer them. I’m not. This is about the issues. … This is about moving this state forward, and that’s our commitment.”
Ethics alarm! Whenever a candidate says that “personal issues” are off the table, and that the election is about “moving the state forward,” you can bet the candidate has a bloody skeleton or six in his or her closet that will tell the voters something important about whether the candidate can be trusted. Continue reading
Primary Ethics: Good and Bad Results for Civic Diligence
The tendency of American voters to hand over the reins of power to the sons, daughters, and wives of popular or successful leaders simply because they shared a last name, a bed or some DNA has always been an embarrassment, proof of the most unfortunate aspects of democracy when it is driven by civic laziness rather than diligence. Beneficiaries of this generations-long deficit in seriousness and responsibility include presidents (Adams, Bush); U.S. Senators (Kennedy, Gore, Clinton, Bayh,**), representatives (Kennedy, Bono, Jackson…), and governors (Bush, Bush…). Some have performed well, some not so well, but all of them were initially elected because voters knew their names, and illogically ascribed to them whatever it was that they admired about their family members, regardless of experience, qualifications, or evidence of governing skill.
In Tuesday’s primaries, voters rectified one especially egregious example of this phenomenon, and committed a new one. Continue reading