A Philosopher's Blog

Cain

Posted in Ethics, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on November 29, 2011
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 21:  Republican presiden...

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Cain is facing another potential crisis: Ginger White has come forth to apparently claim that she had a long lasting affair with Herman Cain. As might be imagined, this is not exactly good news for Cain’s lagging campaign.

Cain immediately denied the accusations, while noting that he did know the woman. His handling of the situation was better than his handling of previous accusations-thus showing that Cain has learned at least a bit about damage control. However, his lawyer released a rather odd statement which, as the pundits noted, does not seem to be the right sort of thing for a politician to issue for damage control. This shows that Cain needs to improve his organization and how it handles damage control-assuming that he is able to endure.

At this point, this is the classic “she says, he says” situation. Cain made an immediate and unequivocal denial which counts, to a degree, in his favor. After all, lying about an affair will generally do more political damage than admitting to an affair. Thus, a lie would not be very sensible and hence would (or should) be the less likely approach by Cain. Given Newt’s and Bill Clinton’s success, Cain should be aware that politicians who have affairs can do quite well.

That said, politicians have been known to lie about such things-even when the lie is far more damaging than the truth. Anthony Weiner is, of course, the most recent example of such an incident.  The statement Cain’s lawyer released also muddled things a bit-while the legalese seems to be aimed any saying that Cain did not have an affair, the overall impression is seems to create is more along the lines of  “if he had an affair, it is t the business of the media or the public.” This is hardly effective damage control and makes it seem like a set up for an admittance of wrongdoing. However, anyone who is familiar with legalese will point out that the statement is the sort of thing a lawyer would create even if his/her client did nothing at all. As such, the statement is hardly decisive evidence.

In regards to the woman, little is known about here. On the face of it, lying about this matter would seem to be a rather odd sort of thing-after all she is, as the pundits have noted, exposing herself to the full scrutiny of the media and laying her reputation on the line. Her accusation, if false, might even be considered slander or libel-given the damage such a charge could do to to Cain. As such, she would seem to have very good reasons not to make a false accusation.

However, one key point (as noted above) is that little is known about the woman, her credibility and her possible motivations. Until more information is known, the most rational thing to do is to suspend judgment on the claim against Cain.

If Cain is telling the truth, then he might be able to make a gain in the polls because of such a false attack. It would also give him some “armor” against ant future attacks of a similar nature.

If Cain is not telling the truth, then his campaign would probably be sunk. However, Bill Clinton was able to sludge with way through worse situations and hence there is a clear precedent for such political survival. Cain is, like Clinton, something of a charmer-but whether he is up to a Clinton level game is something that would have to be seen.

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Edwards

Posted in Uncategorized by Michael LaBossiere on June 4, 2011
John Edwards official Senate photo portrait.

Image via Wikipedia

John Edwards has certainty fallen from grace. Once he was a shiny presidential hopeful. However, revelations that he had a love child while his wife was dying of cancer shattered his carefully crafted image. Now he is facing indictment for allegedly misusing funds.

The state alleges that Edwards took almost $1 million to hide the affair and thus “protect and advance”  his presidential campaign. Edwards’ defense is that the money was not actually intended to be used in the campaign but was a gift  intended to hide the affair from his cancer stricken wife. This is certainly an interesting defense and can be seen as having some degree of plausibility. Given this defense, the prosecution has to show that the money was used in a way that violated campaign laws. After all, while spending money to hide an affair from his wife is clearly immoral, it need not be illegal.

Naturally, I am inclined to side with the prosecution. The idea that his friends forked over stacks of cash to hide the affair from his wife and not to protect his presidential bid seems rather implausible. However, to make the criminal case stick the prosecution need to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Edwards intentionally violated campaign laws. Unfortunately for the prosecution, it is possible that his friends did in fact put up the money to hide the affair from his wife. While this also protected his campaign, this would be a side effect rather than the direct intent. And that seems to make a rather significant difference. I suspect that the prosecution will have a hard time making its case.

I am, however, glad that the case is being brought against Edwards. While campaign contributions and spending are a swamp of endless corruption, I do approve of attempts (however feeble) to cut away some of the rot. That said, going after Edwards is a rather small thing and leaves the horrific system of campaign financing intact. No one seems willing to take on that beast, mainly because the politicians all grow fat upon its monstrous breast.

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Affairs, Ads and Ethics

Posted in Ethics by Michael LaBossiere on January 16, 2009

While the quintessential Superbowl ad is about beer, the folks in charge of approving the advertising have started taking what might appear to be a moral stand. To be specific, they are refusing to accept advertising from  from Ashley Madison.

Ashley Madison is an online dating service for married people. As such, it is a service intended to facilitate adultery. On the face of it, this seems to be an immoral service. After all, it seems reasonable to regard adultery as an immoral activity and to knowingly aid another commit an immoral act is, intuitively, also an immoral action. Thus, it would seem that it is right for this service to be denied advertising time during the Superbowl. After all, selling advertising time to this service would be aiding in an immoral activity. Of course, the immorality of selling advertising to a company that helps people engage in immoral behavior would no doubt be a somewhat “small” immorality.

While it might be tempting to praise the advertising people for refusing such advertising, it seems unlikely they are primarily motivated by moral purity. If they were, the advertising they did accept would have a considerably different character.

One possible reason is that they are trying to avoid offending the growing number of female football fans. While women obviously do have affairs or are involved in affairs, women seem to be more inclined to condemn such activity. Hence, it makes sense to refuse to accept the Ashley Madison advertising so as to avoid offending an important and growing demographic.