Thursday, April 28, 2005

Ethical Ethics

     I wrote this on my phone on the way to lunch because I really am addicted and can't stay away. Plus, apparently writing about how Morning People are out to get me isn't controversial enough to generate comments. This is about Tom DeLay's ethical trip ups and his current adventures in the Ethics Committee.
     I heard this comment on Neal Boortz: "How concerned are the Democrats about ethics really?" My thought: "Who cares?" The issue is whether or not DeLay had serious breaches of ethics. It is not the Dem's motivations for pursuing them. For the record, I am concerned about ethics. I don't want Democrats beholden to crooked lobbyists any more than the Republicans. I fully support ethics investigations on anyone suspected of violations. (And no, extra-marital sex is not an ethical problem, as far as I'm concerned. It's a moral problem.) Can we just agree that Tom DeLay is a crooked Congressman who uses his position of power for personal gain, but that he excels at his job of Majority Leader?
     And speaking on moral problems because I know this will come up - getting an independant prosecutor for Clinton on the Whitewater deal was appropriate (partisan, but appropriate) because the people involved were crooked and lots of money changed hands. But when it got to be about extramarital affairs, it stopped being ethical and started being moral. And you don't get fired for being immoral in your personal life. He did lie under oath, which is an ethical problem, but since it was about a moral problem unrelated to the investigation here's how I look at it. I feel it's like the seat belt law. It's a secondary violation, meaning that you can't get pulled over for not wearing your seat belt. But if you do get pulled over for say, speeding, you can be ticketed for not wearing your belt. If Clinton had lied to cover up his involvement in a crime, I would have supported punitive measures. But since there was no crime (Clinton was never found guilty of any crime, even by the "independant" prosecutor, Ken Starr), there was no coverup and the lie about having sex with Lewinsky should have been dropped. His lie about Lewinsky was the definition of entrapment - in which the police or prosecution were the ones inducing the crime. Had Starr not asked about the girl, there would have been no oath-breaking. Again, see my previous argument - had there been a real crime committed, I would not have been so forgiving.

7 comments:

mothy said...

Well said. The whole Monica episode left a bad taste in my mouth. I hadn't bothered to parse the ethical/moral boundaries, but you describe perfectly the reasoning for the bad gut feeling it gave me.

sideshow bob said...

Know why you can't trust politicians to run an ethics committee? Morning people, every last one of them. Never trust the diurnal!
As for "bad taste in my mouth"...I'll leave that little gem for the next commenter.

Ben said...

I have no doubt DeLay has had a hand in some unethical practives, but if he's the only Senator that has accepted soft money for trips, then I'm a monekey's uncle. None of the ethics violations I ahve seen him accused of are anything you would throw someone in jail for. My biggest problem is not that they are going after him for ethics violations, but that the violations they accuse him of are things that just about every Senator does. Start censuring every Senator for minor ethics violations and there won't be a Senate anymore, but it would be more fair than what they are doing.

Scott said...

Ben, My point was that even if DeLay's transgressions were something that "just about every Senator does" (Which I doubt, to be honest. I do have faith in the great majority of our elected officials that at the very least, are not corrupt), it is not an excuse to overlook DeLay. Process his ethical violations, then move on to wherever corruption is suspected.
SSBob, I like the way you think! "Never trust the diurnal"

ORF said...

Haven't I been saying how awesome SSBob is?

Scott, ethics shmethics! I couldn't get past the fact that you said you wrote this on your phone??? How did you do that? Are your thumbs now whittled into little stumps?

sideshow bob said...

Enough about the thumbs...all eyes on me!

Seriously, though, while many Senators may do these things, not every Senator has the ethics rules changed so that he can remain in a position of power, not every Senator re-staffs the House Ethics Committee when the previous committee criticizes him too much, not every Senator captiously latches on to a hot-button issue in order to distract the public from all the negative publicity...ok, maybe they all have done or would do that...

Mike said...

For once I agree with Scott. If Delay did something unethical he should go. But Ben also brings up a good point that almost all Senators accept gifts from lobbyists. It's part of the business. All of them take "fact finding" trips to exotic places and just happen to bring their families. All of them go out to fancy dinners and rounds of golf on the lobbyist tab. So they should start investigating everyone and clean it up. What's curious is, Delay was the one singled out. That's fine. There has to be a goat. But investigate and punish everyone who is guilty. If you're going to single out one politician and make him an example it makes it look partisan. It's the exact same thing as the situation with Clinton. While what he did wasn't illegal, it was unethical, and we should expect more from our elected leaders.