Gov. Sarah Palin’s speech to the Republican convention yesterday was focused on the promise of ethics reform. Never mind that the Republicans have been at the center of nearly all of the ethical lapses in Washington. In the last 8 years, the GOP has featured such distinguished congressmen as David Vitter, who admitted to soliciting a prostitute while in office; Sen. Larry Craig, who pled guilty to solicitation last year; Tom DeLay, indicted on campaign finance improprieties; and Bob Ney and Sen. Ted Stevens, respectively convicted and indicted of accepting bribes and lying about it. Vitter and DeLay even had the nerve to show up in Saint Paul this week!
But these issues are minor compared to the larger ethical issues facing our executive branch. George W. Bush spearheaded the invasion a sovereign nation and his top officials made 935 false statements in the process — is that not a lapse in ethical judgment? Bush authorized and encouraged the U.S. military to torture its prisoners, and John McCain has repeatedly endorsed Bush’s use of torture. In February, McCain even encouraged Bush to veto legislation which would have prohibited waterboarding. When the executive branch sanctions prisoner abuse, isn’t that an ethical issue too?
Sen. Barack Obama’s ethics record stands in stark contrast to John McCain and the GOP. Obama worked to pass significant ethics reform in early 2007 and worked hard to keep it from being watered down by the rest of the Senate. Last year Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus said that Obama “leads the pack” in his record on lobbying reform. And Obama has a four-pronged plan to restore ethical integrity to the executive branch.
If Sarah Palin was serious about restoring good judgment to the White House, she would know that a vote for John McCain is an endorsement of the ethical judgment we’ve seen from the GOP over the last 8 years. Barack Obama stands up for his ethical principles and has true credentials as an ethical reformer. If Sarah Palin truly wanted to promote ethics reform, this is what she would have told the Republican convention.