Topic: Government & Politics Society

Senator Tom Harkin
(March 2004)

For a national politician to resist the temptation to take cheap political shots at an opposing party or candidate in an election year puts him or her at odds with his supporters, and also qualifies as ethics heroism. Thus Ethics Scoreboard salutes Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, ultra-liberal, Howard Dean supporter, and honorable man, who has publicly refused to embrace deposed Haitian dictator Aristide’s “I was kidnapped!” charade.

Normally, the act of rejecting face-saving spin by a corrupt tyrant who liked to put tires around political opponents’ necks and set them ablaze wouldn’t require any special courage. But for reasons best known to themselves, the Congressional Black Caucus has decided to champion the story, and has called for an investigation. Seldom are political motives more transparent: the CBC is a sworn enemy of the Bush administration, and apparently thinks that the accusation that the US forced out the latest Haitian despot (“democratically elected despot”, for those of you who collect oxymorons) will outrage voters. It is a dubious notion at best, but the Caucus is a loyal ally of Democrat Party, and thus demands to be humored even when, as now, they go off half-cocked. Senator John Kerry has done his bit, echoing the call for an investigation, rather than doing the honest thing, which would be to point out that taking the side of brutal dictators is not, perhaps, the Caucus’ highest calling.

Senator Harkin, however, has taken the simplest and most direct approach. In the words of his spokesperson, “Senator Harkin does not believe [Mr. Aristide] was kidnapped and does believe that he resigned.”

Thank you, Senator. And the next time you say you do believe something, we’ll believe you.



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