A Moral Challenge for the Democrats

There is a difference between Mrs. Bill Clinton and Senator Barack Obama.  That difference is not about political ideology.  It is not about specific policies.  The difference between Clinton and Obama is about ethics and character. 

We do not know much, really, about the character of Barack Obama, but what we do know is good.  He appears to have a normal marriage.  When Obama graduated from college, he took a poor paying job to work for something he believed was good.  During this campaign, the Obama campaign has been essentially devoid of substance, but it has also been conducted with a tone that is upbeat and civil.

Does this mean that Obama is a wonderful guy?  Does this mean that he is not capable of becoming a very cynical and corrupt pol?  No, of course it does not.  But what we do know of Barack Obama, the person, is not troubling.  He appears by all accounts to be a fairly decent chap.

If this is true, then as Americans we should all want someone like Obama running the Democrat Party.  We should want this even when people like Obama are dead wrong on all the issues.  Politics is about much more than just issues or ideology. 

Mike Mansfield was wrong on nearly every policy issue that he faced as Majority Leader of the Senate.  His political ideology was far to the Left of Center.  But Mansfield himself was a man of genuine goodness, strong character and great integrity.  The republic could easily survive the policy mistakes of a man like Senator Mansfield.   His fundamental decency made him precisely the right type of person that we should want in the Senate, even if his political philosophy was completely misguided.

The Democratic Party used to regularly churn out candidates and leaders who were all wrong on the issues, but who retained a high degree of personal integrity. Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis -- among others -- were men like Mike Mansfield:  good men who were on the wrong side of the political divide.

At a fundamental level, the survival of the republic depends upon both political parties have basically honorable people leading the parties.  Republicans got rid of Richard Nixon because he was a crook.  The leadership of the Republican Party told Nixon that he had to go.  He went.  What the Democrats have had since 1993 is a marriage of convenience to a couple worse than Richard Nixon.  In order to win power and hold power, Democrats have been unwilling or unable to free themselves from the clutches of two cynical and amoral operatives.

If this was to achieve certain lofty goals, that would be one thing.  But it manifestly is not to accomplish anything specific.  Bill Clinton triangulated policies not to get anything done, but to remain popular and powerful.  Hillary, who has done nothing at all in the Senate, seems to be just the same as Bill.  Neither really want to accomplish anything, reform about wrongs or solve any problems.  All that matters to Bill or Hillary is power.

Worse for our nation, Hillary shows a real chance of winning the Democrat nomination despite the fact that anyone with eyes knows just what she is.  When scandals erupt during the nomination process, that is a quantum jump in public toleration of dishonesty and criminality.  The mere fact that the wife of an impeached president is seriously contending for the presidency is a low water mark in ethical standards in the history of our nation.  What makes this more troubling is that Obama gives Democrats virtually everything, ideologically, that they could hope for.  He is Left of Hillary on almost every issue.  His politics should delight all the Left, which is nearly all Democrat.  And Obama appears highly electable.  So why is Hillary even in this race?

The answer is that a scary proportion of Democrats care nothing about ideology and everything about power.  Moreover, these Democrats care less about winning elections as they do about returning their party to a position of almost absolute power.  There is no way this can be done traveling the high road.

It is not how Hillary wins that matters to these Democrats.  It is what she will do when she is in power.  We already have seen the last few years have the abuse of prosecutorial power can lead to the most contemptible justice (ask Scooter Libby.)  We have seen how Bill Clinton simply ignored Congress by legislating through executive orders.  And, of course, we have all seen how the Clintons both lie almost pathologically.

The question for the Democrat Party is a question of national trust.  If Democrats wish to nominate a very liberal, apparently honest, quite electable black man, then they have in Obama all that they could hope for in a candidate.  If the Democrats do not care about political philosophy and do not care about being trusted by the rest of America, then they can nominate Hillary Clinton.  It is a moral challenge for our nation's oldest political party.
There is a difference between Mrs. Bill Clinton and Senator Barack Obama.  That difference is not about political ideology.  It is not about specific policies.  The difference between Clinton and Obama is about ethics and character. 

We do not know much, really, about the character of Barack Obama, but what we do know is good.  He appears to have a normal marriage.  When Obama graduated from college, he took a poor paying job to work for something he believed was good.  During this campaign, the Obama campaign has been essentially devoid of substance, but it has also been conducted with a tone that is upbeat and civil.

Does this mean that Obama is a wonderful guy?  Does this mean that he is not capable of becoming a very cynical and corrupt pol?  No, of course it does not.  But what we do know of Barack Obama, the person, is not troubling.  He appears by all accounts to be a fairly decent chap.

If this is true, then as Americans we should all want someone like Obama running the Democrat Party.  We should want this even when people like Obama are dead wrong on all the issues.  Politics is about much more than just issues or ideology. 

Mike Mansfield was wrong on nearly every policy issue that he faced as Majority Leader of the Senate.  His political ideology was far to the Left of Center.  But Mansfield himself was a man of genuine goodness, strong character and great integrity.  The republic could easily survive the policy mistakes of a man like Senator Mansfield.   His fundamental decency made him precisely the right type of person that we should want in the Senate, even if his political philosophy was completely misguided.

The Democratic Party used to regularly churn out candidates and leaders who were all wrong on the issues, but who retained a high degree of personal integrity. Adlai Stevenson, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis -- among others -- were men like Mike Mansfield:  good men who were on the wrong side of the political divide.

At a fundamental level, the survival of the republic depends upon both political parties have basically honorable people leading the parties.  Republicans got rid of Richard Nixon because he was a crook.  The leadership of the Republican Party told Nixon that he had to go.  He went.  What the Democrats have had since 1993 is a marriage of convenience to a couple worse than Richard Nixon.  In order to win power and hold power, Democrats have been unwilling or unable to free themselves from the clutches of two cynical and amoral operatives.

If this was to achieve certain lofty goals, that would be one thing.  But it manifestly is not to accomplish anything specific.  Bill Clinton triangulated policies not to get anything done, but to remain popular and powerful.  Hillary, who has done nothing at all in the Senate, seems to be just the same as Bill.  Neither really want to accomplish anything, reform about wrongs or solve any problems.  All that matters to Bill or Hillary is power.

Worse for our nation, Hillary shows a real chance of winning the Democrat nomination despite the fact that anyone with eyes knows just what she is.  When scandals erupt during the nomination process, that is a quantum jump in public toleration of dishonesty and criminality.  The mere fact that the wife of an impeached president is seriously contending for the presidency is a low water mark in ethical standards in the history of our nation.  What makes this more troubling is that Obama gives Democrats virtually everything, ideologically, that they could hope for.  He is Left of Hillary on almost every issue.  His politics should delight all the Left, which is nearly all Democrat.  And Obama appears highly electable.  So why is Hillary even in this race?

The answer is that a scary proportion of Democrats care nothing about ideology and everything about power.  Moreover, these Democrats care less about winning elections as they do about returning their party to a position of almost absolute power.  There is no way this can be done traveling the high road.

It is not how Hillary wins that matters to these Democrats.  It is what she will do when she is in power.  We already have seen the last few years have the abuse of prosecutorial power can lead to the most contemptible justice (ask Scooter Libby.)  We have seen how Bill Clinton simply ignored Congress by legislating through executive orders.  And, of course, we have all seen how the Clintons both lie almost pathologically.

The question for the Democrat Party is a question of national trust.  If Democrats wish to nominate a very liberal, apparently honest, quite electable black man, then they have in Obama all that they could hope for in a candidate.  If the Democrats do not care about political philosophy and do not care about being trusted by the rest of America, then they can nominate Hillary Clinton.  It is a moral challenge for our nation's oldest political party.