Topic: Government & Politics
Of Nader and the Ethics of Terry
Terry McAuliffe, former Clinton ally, former DNC Chair, political fundraiser
extraordinaire and all-round wheeler-dealer, ran to fill the vacated Governor’s
chair in Virginia. Out of the blue, Ralph Nader suddenly reappeared and
revealed that McAuliffe, when he was Chairman of the Democratic National
Committee in 2004, offered him an undisclosed amount of money to pull
out of 19 battleground states in the Presidential election, so that he
wouldn’t pull crucial votes from Senator John Kerry. The story actually
had been told before, in a post-election book by a Nader staffer. McAuliffe’s
camp’s immediate reaction was to brush aside the accusation as old news,
much the way ex-slugger Mark McGwire kept telling Congress that he “didn’t
want to talk about the past” when he was asked if he had used steroids.
Later, a spokesman said that McAuliffe never offered Nader “any money”
to “drop out of the race,” which, coming from a Clintonite, could easily
mean that he did offer money to Nader’s campaign to leave
the race in certain states. Since Nader, for all his faults, delusions
and excesses, has never lacked for integrity, and since Nader’s description
of McAuliffe as “slipperier than an eel in olive oil” would be probably
be endorsed as accurate even by McAuliffe’s best friends, the Scoreboard
would tend strongly to believe Nader.
Assuming that the story is true (and we will probably never know), let
us do a little ethical inventory:
Politicians like Terry McAuliffe---and they include the Clintons, Tom
DeLay, Nancy Pelosi and many others in both political camps---really don’t
think in terms of ethical or unethical. Their entire orientation is acquiring
and wielding power: what works, and doesn’t send you to jail, is good.
What doesn’t, or breaks the law, is bad. Whether you think such people
make trustworthy public servants or not is up to you, as it is currently
up to Virginians whether they want someone of this orientation as their
I do not.
Update: Despite huge advantages in funding and name recognition,
McAuliffe was upset in the Democratic primary for Governor, getting only
slightly more than half the votes that went to the winner, a man named
Mr. Deeds, like the Frank Capra movie. Many pundits believe Nader’s account
had a significant effect on the outcome.
I sure hope so.