Patterico's Pontifications

10/2/2016

Does Character Matter At All In This Election?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:34 pm

[guest post by Dana]

At the risk of sounding the “It’s a binary choice, stupid!” gong, I want to direct your attention to a thoughtful piece by Jeff Jacoby, who has concluded that due to the obvious lack of moral character in either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, he cannot cast his vote for either of the candidates. It’s not simply due to his own personal sensibilities being offended. It’s far more than that.

He begins his op-ed by pointing out the obvious importance of moral character in matters of everyday life, and then asking whether we shouldn’t expect our elected officials to hold themselves to a similar standard, in both their personal and public lives. Especially those who would hold the highest office in our nation:

WOULD YOU HIRE a babysitter who lied with impunity? Would you choose a therapist who was a compulsive braggart? Would you want as your accountant or financial adviser someone who trailed the reek of corruption and bottomless avarice? Would you list your home with a real estate agent who routinely played fast and loose with rules that others must abide by? Would you attend the church of a pastor who spewed insults and threats and trafficked in delusional conspiracy theories?

If so, you’ll have no trouble supporting Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president.

But if you wouldn’t entrust your personal affairs to someone manifestly devoid of ethics and good character, how can you think of entrusting the nation’s highest office to either of the major-party candidates?

Clearly Jacoby sees this election as a different sort of binary choice.

I think all of us would agree that both candidates lack any discernible measure of moral clarity or integrity. Over the years both have demonstrated that they are more than willing to sink to any level necessary to promote themselves, even if it involves debasing others. And interestingly, it is women who have borne the brunt of their collective amorality.

Consider how the self-proclaimed champion of women intimidated, and threatened to destroy the lives and reputations of a long list of women who made abuse accusations against her husband. And consider the blistering bottom-line of Hillary Clinton: If given the opportunity, she said of one particular woman, she would crucify her. Yet, if anything, this election cycle has revealed these women are now more than willing to push back against Hillary Clinton the candidate. No longer are they willing to fade quietly and fearfully into the night:

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Or consider Kathy Shelton, a 12-year old rape victim whose attacker Hillary Clinton chose to defend, and who not only suggested the child rape victim had romantic motives of her own, but also ended up negotiating a deal for her attacker to serve only one year in county jail for fondling a minor instead of a charge of child rape. While Clinton later laughed about the situation, Shelton, who had to have stitches “down there” as a result of the brutal attack and was rendered unable to have children, has done anything but laugh:

“Every time I see [Clinton] on TV I just want to reach in there and grab her, but I can’t do that,” she continued.

“I don’t think [Clinton’s] for women or girls. I think she’s lying, I think she said anything she can to get in the campaign and win,” Shelton said. “If she was [an advocate for women and children], she wouldn’t have done that to me at 12 years old.”

Trump also lacks a functioning moral compass or code of ethics. How else to explain a husband willingly pimping out his wife to pose nude for a men’s magazine? Even going so far as to negotiate the price for his unwilling wife to bare it all:

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Jacoby makes it clear that he is voting on moral character this go-round, and not on the issues. He also points out that our nation’s foundation may face bigger and more long-term, damaging consequences as a result of the candidates that have been foisted upon us:

Of course it is, and if this were a typical election I’d be voting for the candidate whose political outlook came closest to my own.

Unfortunately, this election isn’t typical. The major parties have coughed up nominees so tainted that to vote for either one would amount to a betrayal. Our generation inherited a democratic republic that, despite all its flaws and weaknesses, was grounded in the conviction that a basic level of civic virtue is indispensable to the survival of American freedom. A vote for a candidate as dishonorable as Trump or Clinton is a vote to trash that inheritance. I can’t bring myself to do that.

The founders of the American system warned at every turn that without moral and civic virtues to navigate by, no democracy can endure. The character of government, they stressed, is inseparable from human character. “As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust, so there are other qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence,” wrote James Madison at the very end of Federalist No. 55. “Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form.” In short, once good character and integrity no longer matter, government of the people is doomed.

Free elections are a uniquely, invaluable part of the American experience. They can also be ugly matters when greed, deception, corruption and vanity solely drive the bus. We are not naive children, we know this to be true. And if we believe it is true that American freedom and success depends upon a degree of moral integrity upon which to stand and draw from, how is a nation facing our current political predicament impacted by electing an individual wholly lacking any measurable degree of moral fiber? By electing either of these charlatans, do we condemn ourselves to something more far-reaching and destructive than seeing the appointment of say, activist judges?

As Jacoby points out, both Clinton and Trump “are practically defined by their cupidity, deceit, and self-righteousness,” and a host of other unenviable qualities. As such, choosing them to lead our nation might invite perhaps a more damaging set of consequences than imagined:

For Americans to elevate anyone so reprehensible to the presidency would be to humiliate themselves before the world. It would also be a sign that the great American experiment in republican self-government may have run its course.

–Dana

Video: Tapper Slams Trump For Accusing Hillary Of Being Unfaithful: “An Unhinged And Wild Accusation”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:58 am

Jake Tapper unloaded on Donald Trump this morning for casually suggesting, with no evidence whatsoever, that Hillary Clinton has been unfaithful to Bill Clinton. Watch how bug-eyed Rudy keeps trying to change the subject to what he wishes Trump had said — that Hillary Clinton has attacked Bill Clinton’s female victims and taken money from misogynistic Islamist regimes — instead of what Trump actually said, which was that Hillary had been unfaithful:

TAPPER: Donald Trump launched a wild and unsubstantiated attack against Hillary Clinton last night. Take a listen.

[TRUMP ON VIDEO:] I don’t even think she’s loyal to Bill, if you want to know the truth. And really, folks, really. Why should she be, right?

TAPPER: Mr. Mayor, is that normal, stable behavior for a presidential nominee to launch an unsubstantiated attack?

RUDY GIULIANI: After she called him a racist, a misogynist, a, xenophobic, I don’t know, schizophrenic, and I don’t know what else she called him at the end of that debate. I think it’s fair game.

TAPPER: Just to make stuff up? Just wild accusations, Hillary Clinton’s cheating on Bill? No proof of it whatsoever? Everything’s fair game?

GIULIANI: That was a sarcastic remark pointing out that Bill Clinton has, you know, quite a past and Hillary Clinton has done quite a job on attacking the people who were victims of Bill Clinton. And not only that, she poses as a feminist and she’s taken money from countries that stone women, kill women, have women —

TAPPER: Bill Clinton is not the nominee, sir. Bill Clinton’s not the nominee. And this is my last question for you. Is the Trump campaign, is Donald Trump and the people around Donald Trump really the ones to be casting aspersions on the marriages of anyone else?

GIULIANI: It isn’t the marriage, it isn’t the marriage. It’s the way she goes on the attack and tries to hurt victims of sexual predations. She is the one that says victims should be taken seriously.

TAPPER: That wasn’t about her marriage? Him saying that she’s not loyal to Bill isn’t about her marriage?

GIULIANI: I am saying the problem with Hillary Clinton has nothing to do, as far as I’m concerned, with her marriage. It’s her protection of Bill Clinton for 20 or 25 years against allegations of rape, taking advantage of an intern, and going on the attack and trying to make those women appear to be insane in some cases. Also it’s her posing as a feminist and taking millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars from countries that kill women, stone women, don’t allow women to drive, don’t allow women to have rights, and use women as property.

TAPPER: I mean, I just find it hard to believe that Mr. Trump would want to start leveling accusations about people’s marriages. But that’s all the time we have Mr. Mayor.

GIULIANI: I think the accusations are about Hillary Clinton taking money from countries —

TAPPER: The accusation was that Hillary Clinton was cheating on Bill. That’s what the accusation was. It was an unhinged and wild accusation. I can understand why you can’t defend it because it’s indefensible.

No doubt the Dilbert guy and other Trump defenders have blog entries explaining that this is eight-dimensional chess: raising the issue of Hillary’s fidelity and the evidence be damned; taking the focus off his tax returns, etc. etc. Trump is a TV candidate for a TV culture, and I guess we’re past the notion of needing actual evidence of some kind before leveling an accusation. It’s nice to see people here and there like Tapper speaking out against it.

UPDATE: It is probably worth noting that Hillary has engaged in some baseless smears in the past, very similar to Trump’s more recent ones.

Hillary even said in an interview with Vanity Fair that year that a wealthy Atlanta businesswoman had told her about an alleged affair that her husband’s rival, George H.W. Bush, had had with a close aide. It’s all “apparently well known in Washington,” she said slyly. Hillary was referring to Jennifer Fitzgerald, with whom Bush was rumored to have had a romantic relationship for years. “I’m convinced part of it is that the Establishment—regardless of party—sticks together. They’re gonna circle the wagons on Jennifer,” she said.

The way to deal with that, for Trump and his surrogates, is to point out what Hillary has done in the past — not to engage in baseless smears of their own.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

Saturday Night Live Does the Debate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:54 am

I don’t watch Saturday Night Live, but this is actually funny.


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