Friday, January 20, 2006

Ethics 101 This Is Not

...“Ethics,” at least in the mouths of politicians, is a weasel word to begin with. Its currency derives chiefly from the unwillingness of politicians to engage the term "morality." Pols prefer the more vague and technical-sounding word “ethics,” as it only binds them rhetorically to a set of professional rules that are usually pretty insignificant and silly, and certainly bear no necessary or intrinsic relationship to right and wrong. The triviality of the term is obvious in the press’s coverage of the post-Abramoff scramble in which the parties are competing childishly to advance the most stringent plan to regulate lobbying. As the Washington Post put it ludicrously, “in a sign that an ethical ‘arms race’ may be developing, the Democratic plans go further than the Republicans’ proposal.”

An ethical arms race? What does that mean? That Democrats and Republicans will for years to come be jostling with each other to see who can conform to the natural moral law more perfectly? That they are in a race to achieve a higher moral state? That if the Republicans commit themselves to, say, eight of the Commandments, the Democrats will commit themselves to all ten? No, apparently the ethical arms race will revolve around such weighty struggles as: Which party will give up baseball caps and coffee mugs from lobbyists? The Democrats, according to the Post, have surged ahead in the ethical arms race as they promise to abstain from even the $20 gifts the Republican plan permits...

Read the rest of George Neumayr's NRO column here; it's well worth your time.