Some Post Iowa Debate Ethics Awards

Other than the fact that both would look crazy on the cover of Newsweek, how is Humpty Dumpty like Michele Bachman?

The GOP pre-Iowa straw poll presidential debate last night earned a few ethics awards, with many more to come as we get to know these pretenders better:

Journalistic Integrity Award: Chris Wallace, Fox news anchor and questioner.

Wallace continues to bring legitimate and fair journalistic practices to his job, and gets accused of being biased anyway. Or, as in this case, (and as when he shocked Michele Bachmann by asking her directly what everyone was implying, “Are you a flake?”), conservatives who expect softballs from Fox react with indignation that an assumed ally is asking a tough question. Wallace asked Newt Gingrich about his flailing campaign organization, and Gingrich angrily called it a “gotcha” question. That’s not a “gotcha,” Newt, and you know it. When most of a candidate’s  campaign staff, those who know him  best, have indicated that they don’t think he has a chance—or perhaps shouldn’t have a chance—by jumping ship, it is fair and responsible to ask a candidate to explain. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Rep. Ron Paul

One of the benefits of absolutist ethical systems is that they can force you to maintain your integrity when unethical positions are convenient or temporarily beneficial. So it was that libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tx) emerged from Monday’s New Hampshire debate among GOP Presidential hopefuls as the only candidate who rejected limiting the participation of gays in the military and the infamous “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. While Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum (naturally), Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty all said, in various and convoluted ways, that they supported DADT, Paul cut precisely to what is ethically offensive about the policy.

“We have to remember, rights don’t come in groups,” Paul said. “We shouldn’t have gay rights. Rights come as individuals….it would be behavior that would count, not the person who belongs to which group.”

I am far, far from being a Ron Paul fan, for his libertarian principles lead him to as many irresponsible positions as ethical ones. And he is certainly emboldened to risk the displeasure of the Republican base as a candidate with about as much chance of getting the Republican nomination as I do (though more of a chance than Newt Gingrich).  But on a night when six of his rivals pandered to homophobia and embraced a policy that both violates core American values and endorses lying, Ron Paul alone had the courage and principle to correctly place “Don’t Ask” where it belongs, in conflict with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.