Publius Speaks

Publius Speaks
Become A Follower

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lack of Spine: the ethical question

Does Mr. Romney have a serious flaw that prevents him from making strong ethical statements or decisions?  Is it the lack of a spine, or something less vivid?  Perhaps it is the lack of a strong moral base or a strong set of principles that bespeaks his lack of “taking a stand.”  He often talks a good game, but when it comes to the point where a situation demands a strong response, Romney fades away. 

Let’s take a look at a few examples. 

1)    The Blunt Amendment
A controversial proposal pushed by Republicans that would have allowed religious employers to opt out of providing health care coverage for contraception.  The amendment was sponsored by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a supporter of the former Massachusetts governor. The provision was an attempt by Senate Republicans to confront a simmering controversy over rules governing religious employers and health care coverage they are required to provide.
At first, Mitt Romney said he was against the amendment.  This occurred on Feb. 29th, 2012.  In an interview with Ohio's ONN, Romney was asked whether he supported the Blunt measure.
"The issue of birth control, contraception, Blunt-Rubio is being debated, I believe, later this week. It deals with banning or allowing employers to ban providing female contraception," asked the reporter, Jim Heath. "Have you taken a position on it? (Santorum) said he was for that… have you taken a position?"
Romney responded: "I'm not for the bill, but look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I'm not going there."
The Romney campaign criticized the "rushed" nature of the question and pointed out that the amendment did not "ban" contraception.
For his part, Romney, appearing on the Howie Carr Radio show after the ONN interview, said he misunderstood the question.
"I didn't understand his question. Of course, I support the Blunt amendment. I thought he was talking about some state law that prevented people from getting contraception. So I simply misunderstood the question and of course I support the Blunt amendment," Romney said before further outlining his position in support of the amendment.
"I simply misunderstood what he was talking about. I thought it was some Ohio legislation that, where employers were prevented from providing contraceptives so I talked about contraceptives and so forth. I really misunderstood the question," Romney said. "Of course Roy Blunt who is my liaison to the Senate is someone I support and of course I support that amendment. I clearly want to have religious exemption from 'Obamacare.'"

Obama’s campaign responded in a statement that Romney showed in one hour "why women don't trust him for one minute."
"It took little more than an hour for him to commit his latest flip-flop," Stephanie Cutter, deputy campaign manager, said in the statement. "Even worse, he ended up on the wrong side of an issue of critical importance to women.”

2)   Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke
Rush Limbaugh made a very big thing out of a statement by a graduate student at Georgetown University. Wikipedia recalls the controversy:
“In February 2012, she came to attention in the United States when Republicans refused to allow her to testify to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the importance of requiring insurance plans to cover birth control during a discussion on whether insurance should have a contraception mandate.  She later spoke to only House Democratic members. Commenting on her testimony, Rush Limbaugh made inflammatory comments about Fluke on his talk show, consisting of speculation and slurs regarding her sex life. picks up the story:

Rush had this to say: "What does it say about the college co-ed Susan [sic] Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex."
Limbaugh continually misrepresented Fluke's testimony, repeatedly claiming she said that she (and other students) are "having so much sex, she can't afford her own birth control pills."  Fluke said nothing of the kind.
3/1/12: Limbaugh suggests on his show that if Fluke wants contraception to be fully covered, she should post videos of herself having sex online so Limbaugh and others can watch.

During this time, the Romney campaign kept silent about Limbaugh’s comments and his obvious insults hurled at Ms. Fluke.  Although Limbaugh finally issued a non-apology apology, blaming Obama’s socialist agenda for his remarks, Mitt Romney remained silent, never commenting on the situation or on Limbaugh’s comments.  The jelly in his spine simply became more obvious.

3)   No mention of the armed forces
September 20, 2012 from
“When you run for president of the United States, you're also running for commander in chief of our armed forces. You'd think, in the most important speech of his life (the convention speech), Mitt Romney would have addressed the Afghanistan War and the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform (nearly 20,000 dead and wounded). Romney didn't even mention one word regarding Afghanistan, our current heroes or our veterans in his speech. Since he has claimed sole responsibility for its content, it proves he simply cannot relate to common issues like a normal person (this is the bane of multimillionaires living in glass towers).”

Or is it simply because Mitt Romney has no regard for the armed forces; that his major obsession is his own situation and circumstances?  Hard to say, but one might say that his attention is focused elsewhere, not on the sacrifices of young men and women.  Too bad he doesn’t have the foresight to provide positive reinforcement to those who deserve it.

4)    Re-definition of rape and belittling of women

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace argued on Sunday over GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan's position on abortion. Warner said that during Ryan's 14 years as a Wisconsin congressman, he backed legislation that would not only ban abortion, but made no exception for pregnancies resulting from rape.
Wallace responded that Ryan supports Mitt Romney's position on abortion, and argued that Ryan has supported exceptions to opposing abortion for "some period of time."

A look at Ryan's record on abortion shows a different path than that Romney will call the shots on abortion 

Last year, Ryan co-sponsored a bill that aimed to give fetuses "constitutional attributes and privileges" and did not include exceptions for cases of rape, incest or life-threatening pregnancies. Ryan and Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.), a Senate candidate who recently claimed that women's bodies can prevent pregnancy in the event of a "legitimate rape," were among a group of 54 co-sponsors of the bill, most of whom were male. The measure, known as the Sanctity of Human Life Act, was referred to the House Judiciary Committee and has not reached the floor for a vote.
Ryan and Akin also co-sponsored a 2011 bill identifying cases of "forcible rape" as the only exception to an existing law that withholds federal funding for abortions. Known as the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, the bill would have effectively eliminated funds for victims of statutory rape. Abortion rights advocates said the bill also would have limited the ability of women who are drugged and raped to terminate any resulting pregnancies.
The "forcible rape" language was later removed from the bill. Ryan described it as "stock language" and said in August that he agreed with its removal. In May 2011, the measure passed the House, but it is not expected to reach the Democratic-controlled Senate floor for a vote.
The National Right to Life Committee has said Ryan voted with the group on 78 abortion-related measures considered during his tenure in office. NARAL Pro-Choice America has also reviewed Ryan's voting record and described him as uniformly opposed to abortion rights.

5)    The Ethical Dimension of Global Warming   
Romney has opposed legislation designed to reduce greenhouse gases citing two reasons. In an October 2011 he asserted in response to a question about his view on climate change that he was opposed to climate change legislation because:
He did not know whether climate change was caused by human beings.  Secondly, he has stated that climate change is a global problem and the US should not spend huge amounts of money on a problem that is global in scope.
(See: Romney : We Don’t Know What’s Causing Global Warming,

In addition, during his acceptance speech at the Republican convention on August 30, 2012, Romney commented on climate change by asserting that President Obama said he would try to stop raising seas and heal the planet while Romney would help American families, thus implying that he would not support climate change legislation while he was President (Lacey, 2012).
The potential ethical significance of an unwillingness to act on climate change is obvious once one understands that:
--High emitting nations and individuals are putting tens of millions of the world’s poorest people at risk.
--Tens of thousands of deaths and other harms caused by climate change are already attributable to human-induced warming; that is, climate change is not just a civilization-challenging future problem but the present cause of misery to some humans in some parts of the world.
--Even if the international community could stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions at current levels further warming will continue for as much as 100 years because of thermal lags in the climate system.
--The mainstream scientific view holds that the world is likely running out of time to prevent rapid, nonlinear, and potentially catastrophic warming.

Romney has no idea about such ethical questions.  He mainly sees restrictive regulations as standing in the way of dollars able to be acquired by industries that should not be held to standards that would benefit the earth’s population.  His concerns are that we produce more jobs with fewer environmental regulations; that the energy sector has been stifled; that oil is more important to our well-being than controlling the environment; that EPA regulations target the entire American industrial base.  He says in his “Plan” that “green jobs” might actually hurt employment rather than help it; that the traditional energy sector -- oil, coal, gas and nuclear -- holds remarkable job-creating potential.  He has absolutely no idea of the ethical dimension of this issue.

And that is really the heart of the matter herein discussed.  He has no idea of the ethical dimensions of many issues.  He speaks about taxes and debt and industries and job creators and Chinese trade policies. But nowhere does he speak about human need, human potential, human concerns.  This is a man focused elsewhere, outside the ethical realm that involves community interactions.  His moral energy is focused on individual morality alone, and even there he fails to speak up when a woman is attacked, or when women are demeaned.  If you want a President who cannot be trusted to put himself and his policies on the line for community health and well-being, this is your man -- and you are welcome to him!