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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

 
The moral judgement of politicians

by digby

Well, well well:
Former New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici told the Journal on Tuesday he fathered a son outside of his marriage over 30 years ago, revealing a secret kept for decades.

Statements given to the Journal by Domenici and the son’s mother, Michelle Laxalt of Alexandria, Va., identified the son as Adam Paul Laxalt, a Nevada lawyer. Michelle Laxalt formerly was a prominent government relations consultant and television political commentator in Washington, D.C. She is a daughter of former U.S. senator and Nevada Gov. Paul Laxalt....
His secret is more than 30 years old.  Whatever. It's a personal issue and it's none of our business.  But I cannot help but recall this speech when his "secret" was only 15:

I have concluded that President Clinton's actions do, indeed, rise to the level of impeachable offenses that the Founding Fathers envisioned.

How can anyone, after conceding that the President lied under oath and obstructed justice, listen to this quotation and not conclude that this President has committed acts which are clearly serious, which corrupt or subvert the political and government process, and which are plainly wrong to any honorable person or to a good citizen?
[...]
Truthfulness is the first pillar of good character in the Character Counts program of which I have been part of establishing in New Mexico. Many of you in this chamber have joined me in declaring the annual "Character Counts Weeks." This program teaches grade school youngsters throughout America about six pillars of good character. Public and private schools in every corner of my state teach children that character counts; character makes a difference; indeed, character makes all the difference.

Guess which one of these pillars comes first? Trustworthiness. Trustworthiness.
So what do I say to the children in my state when they ask, "Didn't the President lie? Doesn't that mean he isn't trustworthy? Then, Senator, why didn't the Senate punish him?"
[...]
In this day and age of public yearning for heroes, we criticize basketball, football and baseball players, and actors and singers who commit crimes or otherwise fail to be "good role models." One of those celebrities said a few years ago that he was only a basketball player, not a role model. He said in essence: "Want a role model, look to the President."

Do not underestimate, my friends, the corrupting and cynical signal we will send if we fail to enforce the highest standards of conduct on the most powerful man in the nation.
[...]
The President has committed high crimes and misde meanors, in violation of his oath of office. He lied under oath. He obstructed justice. His behavior was unworthy of the Presidency of the United States.
Thus, I sadly conclude that the President is guilty of the charges made against him by the House of Representatives and I will vote to convict him on both counts before the Senate. 
Thank you, Mr. President.
I realize it's tired to bring this up and it doesn't have a whole lot of relevance to anything that's happening today. But what it shows, once again, is that politicians are complicated people filled with many contradictory impulses. Also too, they lie, even the ones who seem to be the most morally upright.

There's little choice but to rely to some extent on their judgement but we should maintain large quantities of skepticism about their moral judgement. All of them. They're just human beings, no different from anyone else, and we only see these particular human beings from a very gauzy distance.

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