Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler (D) is running to be his party’s nominee for Governor, which, since Maryland is one of the Bluest of states, means that success equals the statehouse, or should. But the intense spotlight that such a quest creates can be hot and unflattering, and Gansler’s character and integrity is now being called into question…especially after this photo from last summer surfaced on Instagram, showing Maryland’s top law enforcement official in the middle of a wild teen beach party at a beach house by the Delaware shore. He’s the guy in the white shirt and the cell phone:
There you have it: the exact moment when Attorney General Doug Gansler, Candidate for Governor Gansler and Father of a Teenage Son Who Graduated From High School And Wants To Party With His Friends Like In “Animal House” Gansler officially collided. Many, especially many Democrats, especially many Bill Clinton fans, and definitely aspiring toyboy lawyer Brian Zulberti, would argue that only one of them is really there: Father Doug. The others, being absent, are immune from criticism. This position is popular, convenient, lazy, ethically corrosive and wrong. There is only one Doug Gansler, yes, but he is bound by three standards of conduct. When you are bound by three standards of conduct, you have to abide by the highest one.
Again, this situation focuses our attention on integrity, a core aspect of character, and crucial to ethics. Does an individual have genuine principles that he oe she lives by, or a constantly shifting set of values that are assumed and then discarded according to situation, convenient, strategy and whim? When an ethical problem arises, do others know how the individual will respond? Are his words consistent with his actions? Trust means that others can rely on an individual’s conduct, and you can’t rely on the conduct of someone whose values and priorities with the wind, locale, attention and personal desires.
Then there is the issue of judgment. Judgement is like intelligence and common sense: an individual either has it, or he doesn’t. And such traits as responsibility, accountability, honesty, prudence, dignity, loyalty and courage come into play. I know those who embrace the private individual/professional dichotomy are stuck with the argument that the absence of one or more of these in a private setting has no predictive value regarding public or professional conduct, but it is a hopelessly untenable position, pure denial, and ethics poison. Continue reading