Transparency and truth are the fuels that run sophisticated civilizations. Without
them, the state grinds to a halt. Lack of trust — not barbarians on the frontier, global warming or cooling, or even epidemics — doomed civilizations of the past, from imperial Rome to the former Soviet Union.
The United States can withstand the untruth of a particular presidential administration if the permanent government itself is honest. Dwight Eisenhower lied about the downed U-2 spy plane inside the Soviet Union. Almost nothing Richard Nixon said about Watergate was true. Intelligence reports of vast stockpiles of WMD in Iraq proved as accurate as Bill Clinton’s assertion that he never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky.
Presidents fib. The nation gets outraged. The independent media dig out the truth. And so the system of trust repairs itself.
Will there be a scandal if the new political appointees at the IRS sic their auditors on Moveon.org? What will the Washington Post say should the new president keep Guantanamo Bay open for five more years, quadruple the number of drone missions, or decide to double renditions? Will it say that he was shredding the Constitution, or that he found the terror threat too great to honor past promises?
Will NPR run an exposé on our next president should she tap into Angela Merkel’s cell phone, or monitor the communications of Associated Press reporters — and their parents? Will investigative reporters go after the president should he falsely claim that an ambassador and three other U.S. personnel died in the Middle East during a video-sparked spontaneous riot? Or if he then jails the filmmaker for a year on a trumped-up parole-violation charge? Continue reading “2017 and the End of Ethics”→
Conservatives keep blaring, “Obama lied!” over the president’s serial untruths about the Affordable Care Act. Even liberal pundits now talk of the president’s “misspeaking,” or even of his “misleading” statements and only so-so corrections.
But so what?
Obama is an iconic figure who will survive even the latest scandal of flatly misleading the American people, just as he was not harmed much by being less than honest about Benghazi, the AP monitoring, and the IRS and NSA scandals.
Obama has proved disingenuous, without suffering many consequences, for much of his tenure — raising taxes when he said he would not; vastly increasing the national debt when he said he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term; promising lower unemployment when in fact he has presided over a jobless rate of 7 percent or more for every month of his administration; bragging about new gas and oil production, which actually came on private land despite, not because of, his efforts; claiming credit for reducing a deficit that fell only because of the sequestration that he fought, and only because his previous deficits were so staggering that they were not sustainable.
Yet if public reactions to these past scandals are any benchmark, Obama will survive the Obamacare fiasco as well. In two or three months, he will no doubt return to a near-50-percent approval rating in the polls. Almost half of America is invested in his landmark personal profile, or welcomes the vast increase in federal redistributive payouts and equates it with the Obama ideology and presidency. The media saw Obama the icon as reaffirmation of their own guilt-free liberalism and therefore became deductive rather than empirical. Continue reading “Obama’s Fallout for the Left”→
His morality is to be judged by his professed aims, not his means of achieving them.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
Presidential ethics are now situational. Obama is calling for a shield law to protect reporters from the sort of harassment that his attorney general, Eric Holder, and the FBI practiced against Fox News and the Associated Press. Continue reading “Obama’s Ethical Gymnastics”→
The bogeyman of the Washington insider is often a target of the Gingrich campaign, but we have as yet no definition. To be an “insider,” should the candidate have served in the federal government for, say, ten years? Continue reading “A Campaign Dictionary”→