Thursday, August 21, 2008


My friend, Ephie Patrickson, started to write a comment on my recent Post on Barack Hussein Obama's posturing as a 'new' kind of politician seeking to change things in Washington, but got carried away and ended up writing the excellect article which I have posted below. He offers some excellent insights into the present political campaigns.
Ephie Patrickson
The whole issue of pretending one is bi-partisan for a few brief moments when the issue unpleasantly surfaces in a direct and confrontational way is akin to asking anyone (the party affiliation matters not, for the issue plagues both parties) exactly where the largest campaign contributions come from and whether there are conflicts of interest against 'the good of America' and the funding of their existence as politicians when one considers the weight of the strings so often attached to the donations.
The question is fair in discussions on 'the common good'. Granted, it is an awkward and delicate question, not unlike asking a pole dancer who her clients are and exactly how she manages to make her car payments. Yet it is a question worth asking.
During the last set of Supreme Court Senate Hearings (the bulk of which I caught on C-Span) I was struck by the frequent use of phrases such as 'ethics' and 'the good of America'. I was particularly struck by how many of the Senators during their speeches repeatedly assured everyone they were not attempting to engage in 'politics', simply 'the good of America' and ethical conduct The Democrats declare they are above politics; the Republicans the same if the media bothers to ask. Yet they are all politicians. That is what they are. They practice politics, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer. Why do they attempt to pretend otherwise?
Aristotle would have a thing or two to say about this...
It would be akin to a pole dancer making a press declaration that she is not engaging in the sexual industries sector or a lawyer not engaging in legal activity, but wishes to have an ethics bill proposed to explain why he or she is engaging in some other presumably more lofty type of activity.
To return to my admittedly tawdry but perhaps timely example, I personally have never seen a pole dancer perform, although I was bemused to witness recent news stories covering the issue on the television. Those on both sides of the aisle regarding the issue were consulted on the politics of a State changing the tax structure on pole dancers. There were many opinions in the news stories on topics such as 'ethics' and 'the good of the State' in terms of political conflicts of interest as well as freedom of expression and fair commerce from both sides. Regardless of one's stance on the morality of pole dancing, a tremendous amount of politics appears to be involved from all angles in terms of practical discussions on tax structures for pole dancers. Are the discussions in the end even really about pole dancing?
Now when a politician admits he is a politician practicing politics then I may be willing to listen to him, but I invariably find these endless 'ethics bills' to be simply stratagems of one party against the other side having nothing to do with ethics. The dishonesty is in the intention and the naming. It is akin to the pole dancer or nightclub owner launching a task force on chastity, a task force that eventually would be scuttled without any final effect after the initial press furor on its starting subsides. How many of these congressional 'ethics bills' ever go through in the end? What about ear-marks, though?A politician who uses his authority (that is the word: authority) actually to effect policy 'for the common good' has some real potential.
I think of St. Thomas More, patron saint of politicians. He did not give pretentious speeches on politics and ethics. He was no doubt painfully aware of the gruesome messiness of his profession, but through prayer, sacrifice, humility, courage, and the embodiment of virtue he was able to make strong choices and live within an ethical structure in order to have the political structure be at the service of the common good. He paid for it with his life, but 'might' in the longer battle is no arbiter of of the rightness of ethics, truth and orthodoxy. This article on political vulnerabilities in our Presidential campaigns is salient, especially the whole issue of 'self-interested partisan posturing', which is yet again another example of how our political leaders seem to dance around any issues we may wish to have them explain with any clarity. I fear little resolution of a positive nature will come from the Battle to Be at Denver, but there no doubt will be much dancing.

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