Ethics, Shmethics …

When a person is in a position of extreme responsibility and trust, and is no longer, due to situations beyond his control, able to perform his duties to the best of his ability, if he is a person of good conscience, he will resign his position.  That is exactly what Walter M. Shaub, Jr., head of the Office of Government Ethics, has done.  Although I am distressed by his resignation, I hail him as a man of honour, and quite honestly I would have done the same.  This move, however, speaks volumes about the lack of honesty and integrity in the White House, and it opens the door wide for even more abuses of power and greed than we have seen in the past six months.

shaub-2“It’s hard for the United States to pursue international anticorruption and ethics initiatives when we’re not even keeping our own side of the street clean. It affects our credibility. I think we are pretty close to a laughingstock at this point. There isn’t much more I could accomplish at the Office of Government Ethics, given the current situation. O.G.E.’s recent experiences have made it clear that the ethics program needs to be strengthened.”

The Office of Government Ethics (OGE), with a staff of only 70, is an advisory agency only and cannot enforce rules on ethics.  Since the November 2016 election, their advice has been largely disregarded.  For example, rather than divesting himself of his business interests, or placing them in a blind trust, Donald Trump simply transferred them to a trust run by his two oldest sons.  According to Shaub, this “doesn’t meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every president in the past four decades has met. OGE is nonpartisan and does its work independently. Our goal—our reason for existing—is to guard the executive branch against conflicts of interest. We can’t risk creating the perception that government leaders would use their official positions for profit.

The Office of Government Ethics was created in 1978 by the Ethics in Government Act, as a result of the Nixon Watergate scandal and the Saturday Night Massacre.  OGE is tasked with:

  • Establishing the executive branch standards of conduct;
  • Issuing rules and regulations interpreting the criminal conflict of interest restrictions;
  • Establishing the framework for the public and confidential financial disclosure systems for executive branch employees;
  • Developing training and education programs for use by executive branch ethics officials and employees;
  • Ensuring that individual agency ethics programs are functioning properly by setting the requirements for them, supporting them, and reviewing them.

As it is turning out, the scandals within the Trump administration are many, deep-rooted, wide-spread, and I firmly believe will far exceed those of Watergate.  And yet now the gatekeeper’s slot is empty and it will be up to Trump to appoint a new one.  That reeks of putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.


Many these days, myself included, have made the comparison between Nixon and Trump, but Elizabeth Drew, author of the definitive Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall, says that comparison is unfair to Nixon.    She cites a number of reasons, starting with the fact that Nixon remained in office for five years, during which he had some major accomplishments, as compared to the chaos-engulfed Trump presidency that has not even been able to staff up, has no significant legislative wins to its name and is already, at just six months in as of this week, the most unpopular in seven decades. Nixon was smarter, she argues. He read books and cared about policy.

According to Drew, while Watergate was a “constitutional crisis” that involved “a whole array of abuse of power, where they used the instruments of government against Nixon’s perceived enemies, the Trump investigation could yield even more serious abuse of power or failure to execute the office than the years’ worth of Nixon probes.” In addition, she cites differences in today’s political culture:

  • Politics was not as mean.
  • Congress still had the capacity to do things in a bipartisan fashion.
  • Republican moderates were not an endangered species.
  • Twitter hadn’t corrupted the news cycle of the political class—or the attention span of the president himself.

In just six long months, we have entered a new realm … a realm of alternative facts and alternative language.  It is a world where ‘no’ may mean ‘yes’, where ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are interchangeable, and in this alternative vocabulary, the words ‘ethics’, ‘honesty’, and ‘integrity’ no longer exist.  There is, if Congress and the American public do not wake up and demand action be taken against the destruction of the office of presidency, only one path where this decay, this hedonistic administration can lead us, and it is not the path of a democracy where leaders are held accountable for their actions.

Walter Shaub has accepted a position with the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization of election-law experts, where he hopes to “have more freedom to push for reform. I’ll also be broadening my focus to include ethics issues at all levels of government.”  I wish Mr. Shaub the very best and hope that he is able to make a difference for our nation, working from the outside, since his hands were tied while working from the inside.shaub-letter



26 thoughts on “Ethics, Shmethics …

  1. Pingback: An Update … And A New Twist … | Filosofa's Word

  2. I was having a computer problem and I’m just catching up. I couldn’t resist reblogging this post. For once, a truly honest man who worked in the White House. How sad he had to quit but I totally understand his position. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, he was a rarity in today’s administration. But, his term would have expired in January 2018 and Trump would never have re-appointed him. I’m hoping he can do some good from the outside in his new position!
      Glad you got your computer problems worked out … hope you didn’t have to buy a new one like Gronda did a while back!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Jill. This is a new computer. I was told the battery just needed cleaning. Now I’m wondering why the battery of a new computer needed cleaning. I’m just glad it’s now working again but the questions remain in my mind. How did that battery become dirty and was an older battery put in a new computer? At least the computer is under a two-year warranty. —- Suzanne

        Liked by 1 person

        • I agree … there is no reason the battery should have collected dust. I think perhaps there was a defective battery, or it had been installed improperly, but they did not want to say that. At any rate … you’re back in business now, and that’s the important thing!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Jill, our President has never been known for ethics in his business dealings. Over 4,000 lawsuits would be partial evidence. Another is his propensity to lie as reported by his many biographers. And, it goes on. We should not be surprised that this President rivals Richard Nixon in unethical behavior. Mr. Shaub did the right thing. We should remember him well. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Quite true. Another thing I was thinking … Nixon broke the law in a series of terrible, criminal acts. However, if he was a “crook” when he was elected, we did not know it. With Trump, though, we knew from the very beginning that he was not an honest man, yet … we elected him. Where is the sense in that????

      Liked by 1 person

    • Funny, but that was the term that came to my mind as I wrote this post … profiles in courage. As Jack pointed out … the real travesty is that we have to have an entire department to keep our elected leader and his minions honest! 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s an indictment of modern politics that there needs to be an Office of Government Ethics in the first place. A truly ethical man, an ethical administration and an ethical president would put honesty, honour, and truth above all things. A good man does not have to be told to do the right thing, nor does he have to be told what is the right thing to do.
    Sadly, your current bunch prowling the corridors of power have no honour, no honesty, and wouldn’t know truth if it bit them in the ass.
    Ah Jill, keep on shining your light into the dark places.
    You have my support, my friendship, and my love. ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are quite right … an entire department to keep the heads of government honest should NOT be needed. When I was researching for this post, I learned that since the election in November, this department has been kept so busy that they are having to work overtime and still have a huge backlog. Now what does that say about the cast & crew in the White House? Sigh. And now Trump will appoint the next head of the department … probably another of his rich, alt-right buddies. Or perhaps he will simply abolish the department, as he is threatening to do with the EPA, Dept. of Education, etc.
      You know I will keep shining the light into the dark places, for I think I cannot do otherwise, but sometimes I seem to get stuck in those dark places for a brief bit. I always find my way out, though, with the help, support and encouragement from people like you! Thanks, Jack … your support means more than you know. Love & Hugs galore!!! ❤ ❤


    • Yes, I thought his letter was great! And I admire his decision to move on, though I cringe to think who might next hold that position. I noticed that Dennis Hastert got out of jail today … perhaps Trump will nominate him for director of OGE!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Non Existent Ethics – The Militant Negro™

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