Topic: Government & Politics

Bad Dog: The Warped Ethics of a Watch-Dog Group
(3/3/2004)

It would be a good idea, if it was executed: The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington declared that balance was missing among government "watchdog" groups, with an over-balance to the right. From the group's website:

"CREW aims to counterbalance the conservative legal watchdog groups that made such a strong impact over the past decade. These groups focused their attention on their left-wing adversaries, leaving the right relatively free from scrutiny." The latter is true, as Judicial Watch, among others, managed to keep the Clinton administration scrambling to keep up with its suits, demands for documents, and frequently over-reaching accusations. But CREW will be different…

"….CREW's mission is to use the legal system to expose government officials who betray the public interest by serving special interests. CREW focuses equal attention on misconduct by all, including the right."

Well, let's see…who has CREW found fault with?

So far in 2004, they have gone after Tom DeLay, Vice President Chaney, John Ashcroft, Grover Norquist, Deputy Secretary Steven J. Griles, House Republicans generally, Manuel Miranda, Wyoming District Court Judge Clarence Brimmer. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Billy Tauzin (R-LA), Florida Governor Jeb Bush…need we continue? Why, there isn't a Democrat or a liberal Republican to be found! I guess this means those dang conservatives are the only ones being unethical, right?

As Colonel Potter used to say, "Horse hockey!" Most, if not all, of the complaints raised by CREW have merit, but the group clearly has its focus squarely on the ethical shenanigans of the political right, and is either blind to the equally egregious ethical failings of more liberal politicians, or believes that in their case, its all for a good cause.

Listen…there's a lot of bad stuff going on out there, and if CREW wants to focus on Republicans, good: the more the merrier. No reason to spread a good thing too thin, as on this website. But pretending to "focus equal attention on all" while being either unable or unwilling to see the dark side of political allies is, yes, unethical. Worse, it undermines the whole cause of ethical conduct, by giving credence to the argument of those who attack every ethics charge as being "politically motivated."

Meanwhile, Judicial Watch has started suing Republicans. CREW should do the ethical thing, and admit that it is a watchdog on the ethics of conservative politicians. That is an honorable pursuit. Claiming to be apolitical and without ideological orientation when it is manifestly untrue is a silly pursuit, and dishonest as well.

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