Democrats' New Favorite Word to Bludgeon Trump: 'Ethical'
Every few months, progressives shift their attack, introducing or recycling one theme after another. First, it was "collusion." Then, it was "obstruction." Now the word is "ethical." Apparently, it's not ethical to pick up the phone and listen when someone calls you. Even if you intend to call the FBI if there's something wrong.
Obviously, the Clinton campaign went far beyond that when it paid for the services of a foreign national to compile the dirty dossier on the president. But it's not just the Steele dossier. Charges of involvement by Obama's FBI, CIA, and Justice Department, if substantiated, will amount to the worst political conspiracy in our history. The list of those involved will be long, and it could stretch from Peter Strzok and Lisa Page at the bottom all the way up to Biden and Obama at the top. That sort of conspiracy, involving top federal agency and department heads and perhaps the president and vice president himself, would go so far beyond "unethical" as to make an ethics charge seem laughable. There would be so many felonies flying around that the Justice Department couldn't prosecute them even if it wished to.
The charge of unethical behavior has been around ever since Donald Trump began campaigning for president. Politico was among the first to publish on Trump's "vast web of conflicts," among them the terrible fact that the president's name appears on a number of hotels (most of which the president does not own, or if he does, only in a blind trust). Bloomberg.com went farther and has published an "interactive guide" to "Trump scandals" going back to 2016, including Flynn; Pruitt; Kushner; Wilbur Ross; Ben Carson; Eric Trump; Donald Trump, Jr.; and even Ivanka. Some of these "scandals" involve things like riding on a government plane or having dinner with friends.
On May 1, 2018, the Washington Post labeled President Trump "in an unethical league of his own." Newsweek repeated the charge, based on polling that the Trump administration is the "most unethical in U.S. history." Actually, their polling went back only to Reagan's first term — not exactly all of U.S. history. The question is, how will more reliable polls, such as the Rasmussen poll, look closer to the 2018 election? On June 13, Rasmussen polling showed that 50% of likely U.S. voters approved of the job President Trump was doing, considerably above the 46% approval rating of Obama at this point in his presidency. Pretty good for the "most unethical" president in history.
Last fall, the New York Times published a "definitive list" of Trump's ethical violations. With a definitive list already in print, why continue with more now, as the paper did June 13 with a story about the president's comments on listening to trash on his opponents? Obviously, the Times isn't done with "unethical."
On June 13, Nancy Pelosi got a lot of press for saying, "He does not know right from wrong," but the truth is, that's a ridiculous generalization. It's the sort of thing progressives, or children, say when they don't like someone. "He's bad," they say. "I don't like him." Or there's Beto O'Rourke, on April 5 at Morningside College, who said the president's language on immigrants was right out of the Third Reich. The charge that "he's a Nazi" has been around since, well, the Nazis, and it's not the sign of a discriminating intellect. It's a lot like the child's accusation: "He's bad. I'm good." It's also an insult to those who suffered under the real Nazis. What the president is doing on the border is meant to rescue the victims of trafficking and abuse. Does that make him a Nazi? So far as I know, Beto has done nothing but make this suffering worse through his inaction.
The word "unethical" is more popular with Trump's critics than just about anything other than "collusion," but collusion went down with the Mueller report. Things are slow right now, so "unethical" is all they've got. Once unethical has run its course, Democrats will turn to something else. Maybe they'll find that President Trump is a "dangerous" man — no, they've already tried that one. Rest assured: there'll be something, and its use will be coordinated during frantic meetings of politicians, journalists, and academics at some five-star retreat.
A "public interest" group called Citizens for Responsible and Ethics in Washington (CREW) will probably have a hand in it. CREW has been pushing the ethics narrative for three years now. Not surprising that its executive director is Noah Bookbinder, a former member of the Obama administration. Before that, he advised Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, one of the Senate's most liberal members, in his work as Senate Judiciary chair. CREW was founded by Democrat lawyers Norman Eisen and Louis Mayberg. Not the place I'd go for unbiased ratings of conservatives.
According to InfluenceWatch.org, CREW is aligned with David Brock organizations SuperPac American Bridge and Media Matters for America, both of them important liberal organizations. According the InfluenceWatch, CREW has received funding from Barbra Streisand's Streisand Foundation and George Soros's Open Society Institute. The liberal web is endlessly convoluted and corrupt, and it is gearing up for the fight of its life in 2020.
The rest of us are more or less oblivious, and thankfully so. Collusion? Obstruction? It's a joke. Unethical? Says who? Nancy Pelosi, reportedly one of those for whom the 2012 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (called by some the "Pelosi provision") was enacted. According to 60 Minutes, Pelosi traded Visa shares while legislation affecting the stock was coming up under review. While that behavior was legal at the time, was it ethical?
Democrats have been throwing stuff against the wall ever since Trump was elected in hopes of finding something that will stick. Well, nothing sticks, because the president is too good a man and too genuine, to honest, to impugn. If Democrats were to initiate an impeachment investigation in the House, they would become a laughingstock — or more of a laughingstock than they already are. Congress's approval rating now stands at 20% — President Trump's is at 45%.
The massive crowds at the president's enormous re-election rally in Orlando didn't have a problem with the president's ethics. They love President Trump and view him as a hero who is saving America from its enemies domestic and abroad. To defend our shores, to protect our markets, to support our economy, to preserve our borders — that does not sound unethical. Maybe it's time for Democrats to find another word.
Jeffrey Folks is the author of many books and articles on American culture including Heartland of the Imagination (2011).