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My Ethics: In politics, ethics matter more than issues
The author says that perceptions of Mitt Romney's and Barack Obama's characters matter more to voters than the issues.
July 7th, 2012
08:00 PM ET

My Ethics: In politics, ethics matter more than issues

Editor's Note: Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D., is director of Emory University’s Center for Ethics.

By Paul Root Wolpe, Special to CNN

Every four years, we go through a long and tortuous process of winnowing down a field of candidates to the two that are presumably best suited to lead us. We make our decision by focusing on two things: the candidates’ position on issues and their character.

We seem to spend the bulk of our time on the issues, debating endlessly the details of a candidate’s policies on immigration, health care, foreign affairs or the economy.

Yet the deciding factor, the one that tips the undecided voter, is perception of a leader’s character. We talk about character far less but it weighs upon us far more.

Every age believes it has a deficit of great leaders, and ours is no exception. We are convinced that we lack the caliber of leaders from our past, and it does not help to see the dispiriting parade of sex scandals and financial misbehavior that confronts us in the media almost every day.

At the same time, there has never been more attention focused on teaching about leadership.

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Amazon lists almost 2,000 books on leadership that have been released just in the last 90 days. Leadership programs abound in colleges and universities, and even elementary school children are taught leadership skills.

True leadership takes many qualities, which the leadership books are happy to list for you: mastery of skills, vision, knowing people, being a good listener, transparency, accountability and so on.

But what has emerged more and more in the literature on leadership is a focus on values. What makes a great leader is a strong sense of connection to their deep-set values, and a commitment to use those values as a touchstone in decision-making.

“Principled leadership,” “values-based leadership,” “ethical leadership” - the new buzzwords of leadership are about self-knowledge, the need to understand and clarify one’s beliefs, to demonstrate genuine humility, to lead with an open mind and heart.

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I teach ethics, and my first task with new students is to challenge the common view that ethics is primarily about deciding what is “right” and “wrong.”

Ethics is the expression of our deepest values, how we manifest what we believe in through our actions. Almost every action we take, except for the most trivial, reveals something about our ethical preferences.

One of the key goals of Emory University’s Center for Ethics is training students in “servant leadership.” It requires challenging them to consider and articulate their values: What do they really care about? What are they dedicated to? And how do they plan to realize the things they care about through action in the world?

All the other skills of leadership are important, too. But leadership at any level has to begin with an authentic commitment to who we are as individuals, self-knowledge of what we care about, a sense of the nature of our connection to the people and environments around us, and a decision to realize our values through action.

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Using that standard, we can begin to look at those who want to claim leadership roles – political candidates, for example – in a new light.

When we care about a candidate’s character, we are really asking, Is this person authentic? Are their positions a true reflection of their inner values, or are they politically expedient? Is a change of opinion on an issue a result of the candidate listening to others, learning and making a principled decision, or is it a response to pressure, polls and popularity?

As we look over our choices in this election year, we need to ask ourselves about who the candidates really are.

What does Mitt Romney’s flip-flop on universal health care, his management of Bain Capital and even sticking his dog on his car roof say about who Romney is as a person, as a leader?

What does President Obama’s delays on "don’t ask, don’t tell" and same-sex marriage, his alleged policy of targeted assassinations and his failure of campaign promises like closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay say about his fundamental character?

Sometimes, our European friends think we are politically naïve. They care less about a leader’s character, and more about what they call “realpolitick,” politics based on power and on practical considerations, not ideology or ethical premises.

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It is why the Italians seemed little concerned with former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s sexual proclivities, or the French for former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s three marriages.

Looking over European politics in the last century or so, perhaps it is naïve to think that results are all that matter in politics.

Much of the history of 20th century Europe was written by leaders whose values were suspect, to say the least.

The policies of Chamberlain, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and others whose decisions devastated Europe were not totally surprising, given what was already known about their character when they assumed office. A leader’s policies may change, but the set of core values that generate them remains constant.

It is in the American character to care about our leader’s values. We should be proud of that.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul Root Wolpe.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (621 Responses)
  1. XxMacleodxX

    neither party has any ethics so why would we even discuss it....

    July 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      To watch each side point fingers.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  2. sqeptiq

    "we go through a long and tortuous process of winnowing down..." Reading the first sentence of the article, I questioned if the author meant "torturous" instead of "tortuous." After finishing it, I'm more inclined to believe that it describes torture more than twists and turns.

    July 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  3. JustaNormalPerson

    George Romney doesn't really lie. He just tells the truth a lot of different ways, no matter how contradictory.

    July 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    See prayer change things at my website, prolapsed.net.

    July 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Actually, since I've come out today on another chat board, this is the real blog I want you to see: http://borngaybornthisway.blogspot.com/
      I'm so relieved and proud that God made me gay and now I can tell everyone without shame!!!! I tried to pray away the gay and it didn't work!

      July 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Religion is not healthy for children and other living things

      They allow you to run a website from the State Hospital?? Another waste of taxpayer's money...

      July 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Hammerdown

      This Godbot is faulty programming.
      Please ignore.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • john the baptist not the guy

      Onward christian soldiers
      Onward onto war
      With the cross of jesus
      Going on before

      I pray that this will never happen again.
      It would seem your prayer and only your prayer changes things, you are ludicrous.

      July 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  5. just sayin

    God speaks in still, small voices to me. I'm in the psych ward now because of it. But at least I can get on here and let people know that I do hear voices. A lot of people that are attracted to the mormon church are crazy like me because the mormon church teaches you that you can hear voices and it's ok, that you can see god, even though Moses couldn't and that you yourself can and will become a god someday! Perfect beliefs for totally INSANE people!!!!

    July 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Liar.

      July 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • just sayin

      Tom, why do you call me a liar? You're right here next to me writing as I write. It's funny, it's like texting across the room to each other. Just because I took your eggs and bacon at breakfast this morning and you got so mad that you had to be strapped to the table doesn't mean you should lash out at me on here. Stop being a jerk and take your meds when the nurse gives them to you!

      July 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  6. Jesus Christ

    If you think that mormons are ethical, then read the following. These are direct quotes from the second prophet of the LDS church. Mormons MUST obey every word their prophets say, past or present...so imagine what Romney really feels ethically.....

    Brigham Young said your own blood must atone for some sins.

    "There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it . . . " (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 247; see also, vol. 4, p. 53-54, 219-220).

    Brigham Young said you must confess Joseph Smith as a prophet of God in order to be saved.

    "...and he that confesseth not that Jesus has come in the flesh and sent Joseph Smith with the fullness of the Gospel to this generation, is not of God, but is Antichrist," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p. 312).

    Brigham Young said his discourses are as good as Scripture.

    "I say now, when they [his discourses] are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible . . . " (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 264; see also p. 95).

    Brigham Young said he had never given any counsel that was wrong.

    "I am here to answer. I shall be on hand to answer when I am called upon, for all the counsel and for all the instruction that I have given to this people. If there is an Elder here, or any member of this Church, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can bring up the first idea, the first sentence that I have delivered to the people as counsel that is wrong, I really wish they would do it; but they cannot do it, for the simple reason that I have never given counsel that is wrong; this is the reason." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 161).

    Brigham Young compared his sermons with scripture.

    "I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom...I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95).

    Brigham Young said you are damned if you deny polygamy.

    "Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 266). Also, "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269).

    Brigham Young said you can't get to the highest heaven without Joseph Smith's consent.

    "...no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 289).

    Brigham Young boasted.

    "What man or woman on earth, what spirit in the spirit-world can say truthfully that I ever gave a wrong word of counsel, or a word of advice that could not be sanctioned by the heavens? The success which has attended me in my presidency is owing to the blessings and mercy of the Almighty . . . " (Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, p. 127).

    Brigham Young said Jesus' birth was as natural as ours.

    "The birth of the Savior was as natural as the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood–was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 115).

    Brigham Young said that God the Father and Mary 'do it.'

    "When the time came that His first-born, the Saviour, should come into the world and take a tabernacle, the Father came Himself and favoured that spirit with a tabernacle instead of letting any other man do it," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 218). "The birth of the Savior was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood - was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 115). Note: the late Bruce McConkie who was a member of the First Council of the Seventy stated "There is nothing figurative about his paternity; he was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events..." (Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce McConkie, p. 742).

    Brigham Young said that Jesus was not begotten by the Holy Spirit.

    "I have given you a few leading items upon this subject, but a great deal more remains to be told. Now, remember from this time forth, and for ever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 51).

    Brigham Young taught that Adam was God.

    "Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! about whom holy men have written and spoken - He is our Father, and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 50).

    Brigham Young made a false prophecy?

    "In the days of Joseph [Smith] it was considered a great privilege to be permitted to speak to a member of Congress, but twenty-six years will not pass away before the Elders of this Church will be as much thought of as the kings on their thrones," (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, p. 40).

    Brigham Young comments about blacks

    "You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind....Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 290).

    "In our first settlement in Missouri, it was said by our enemies that we intended to tamper with the slaves, not that we had any idea of the kind, for such a thing never entered our minds. We knew that the children of Ham were to be the "servant of servants," and no power under heaven could hinder it, so long as the Lord would permit them to welter under the curse and those were known to be our religious views concerning them." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 172).

    "Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110).

    Now if that last portion didn't strike you as unbelievably horrible, than imagine this....Mormons are taught to believe every word of their prophets as though they were the words of God: Unquestionable. And these are quotes from just one of their prophets.
    Now imagine the President of the USA being Mormon.....

    July 8, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Religion? Get real...

      Yes, there are a LOT of crazy things in the Book of Mormon... but nothing crazier than what's in the Bible... Talking snakes? Pregnant virgins? Men walking on water? Those are fairy tales that most children reject by the age of six... A Christian calling Mormonism 'unethical' is like Romney calling someone else a flip-flopper...

      July 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      You mean how Obama was against Gay marriage until a week after Romney came out of the primaries and was tied in the polls with him?

      Then again maybe it was not a flip flop because after he said it he really hasn't done anything for that community.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Religion?? Get Real...

      Obama's view on gay marriage changing over the course of 16 years can hardly be called a flip-flop... When Romney changes his views from speech to speech, THAT'S a flip-flop...

      July 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • just sayin

      Mark from middle river...why is it the mormons always avoid the points that are given right in front of their face and attack Obama...thinking that nobody will pay attention to the fact that mormons are the most unethical people on the earth?

      July 8, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      16 years?....the man said that marriage was a between a man and a woman a few months ago and during his run for president.

      He said it only because he needed the votes.

      But if you want to hold to that 16 years just ask why when the only piece of federal legislation dealing with the Gay and Lesbian community, "Don't Ask Don't Tell" was pushed through by Obama and the Democrats but the Gay and Lesbians who are Republicans? Obama had two years with a veto proof Congress and he did nothing for the LGBT community, the same as for the Black community ... because he already had their votes.

      Or just ask yourself....since saying that he is now "for" Gay marriage .. what has he done since......

      The Hispanic vote is larger than the Gay and Lesbian vote, so for their vote they got the Dream act .... What have LGBT gotten from this president?

      July 8, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Obama Mama

      @Mark-even when President Obama did not agree with or fully support the gay community he wanted them to have rights. Like when he said they should serve in the military and not be prosecuted or dismissed with prejudice. Just because he grappled with his religion, or how his children made him see maybe he needs not understand but accept those things he cannot change, but it does not make the gay community less human.

      July 8, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  7. Gaild

    If you are wondering about Romney and ethics, it's a no-brainer. The media kindly refers to it as "flip-flopping" but in lay people's language it is simply lying.

    July 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Hammerdown

      Romney is selling a product.
      That product is "Romney".
      To reach as many consumers as possible, you have to be "all things to all people"
      Even a good liar, is still a liar.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      The Obama product is set to expire in November 🙂

      July 8, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Obama Mama

      And I guess if Mittens gets elected he will be the Apocolyse bringer?

      July 8, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  8. Gaild

    There are no ethics when a party's goal is to have its own way and to block anything and everything that the president and his party attempts to do. That's selfish arrogance, and not has gone a long way toward destroying balance and ethics in our country. If I were a republican, I wouldn't be able to stomach the politicians in my party; I would be "out of there" as fast as I could go. Just don't make matters worse and blame Obama for the misfortunes (including the credit rating) that the other party has forced on us.

    July 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      So the Democrats do not do the same thing. You are crying about something that politicians on both sides declare they will do when they run for office. Which is essentially what the ones that voted them into the office told them to do. Its always... "elect me and I will fight them and stop them"

      We are a divided nation and what one district or state feels is important chances are, another state will feel it is an outright hostile move.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  9. Quickstrong

    all politicians have the god particle cern is looking for they are just hiding it from cern.

    July 8, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Please take the word god out of Higgs Boson.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  10. BinaryTruth

    In a battle of ethics, the only thing going for Romney is his voters share the same (lack) thereof.

    July 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • oddjob2234

      Derp!

      July 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Scott F

      Amen!

      July 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  11. stevensb

    Ethics , issues , morals , ............. the writer doesn't a freakin' clue !!!!!
    MONEY , MONEY , MONEY , IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS In the cesspool that is present day American politics ......

    July 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Scott F

      We are becoming a very selfish " all about me" society with no room for listening to others opinions. The mantra today is: I am open to listening to your opinion as long as I agree with it" It is not just Congress but most of us. We will reap what we sew, and we deserve it. Ignorance ,apathy , and selfishness( my way or the highway) is destroying this country. How else can you explain why we have allowed the bar to be set so low? If we said no to it, it would go away.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  12. michelle - san francisco

    what matters to me (and probably to a lot of people as well) is that this whole presidential campaign goes on for much tooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long! i am already sick of it and there is still more months to go. it's torture.

    July 8, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    July 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Religion? Get real...

      Prayer convinces you that you have a one-on-one connection with God... which makes you feel important, like your life is more meaningful because you're able to communicate with the almighty... But all you're really doing is creating a false connection with yourself, convincing yourself that the voices in your head are those of God, simply because you have no other way to feel important or worthy... People who lie to themselves in this way are extraordinarily weak-minded and do so to embrace a fantasy that is better than their current reality.

      July 8, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • just sayin

      Not voices, voice. God speaks in a still small voice, the same voice, His, that He, God spoke to Abraham with and Elijah and Paul. God bless

      July 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Looking at Clouds

      "God speaks in a still small voice, the same voice, His, that He, God spoke to Abraham with and Elijah and Paul."

      Suuuuuuure he does. Now aren't you SPECIAL!

      July 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • just sayin

      the still, small voice tells me to hurt people and to hurt myself. It tells me things, things like...well, you know...that I am a god....that Romney is a god...that mormons are superior to everyone on the planet. It tells me that even though I have a problem falling in love with my farm animals, I can still be forgiven!

      July 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Parfin Woodell

      Farts change everything.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  14. Doug-Dallas

    Having served in local politics (councilman), I found for most ethics were applied when it was convenient. Watching politics on the National stage convinces me it even worse. If not, then our elected leaders(?) have no ethics and the American public is fine with that as long as the politicians say what the public wants to hear and that's true on both sides. The willingness to address our country's biggest issues get replaced and denigrated by what is politically popular or expedient at the time. The result is nothing gets done and the cost of fixing the issues just continues to rise which means the can continues to get kicked down the road. Until our values change, we will continue to see our stupidity grow at all levels of government.

    July 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      I would agree with you, the back room and the deals is the norm, not the exception. America is filled with suckers, literally, the public is duped and lied to every day, keeping the masses drugged with propaganda via the media.

      July 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      I gotta agree with you on this point Voice.

      It is where revolutions have their jumping point.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  15. babooph

    How did W manage to fool voters into thinking he had any "ethics"?

    July 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • AGuest9

      HE didn't.

      July 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      I agree with AGuest 9 He didn't fool because he didn't have to . W's ethics were real.

      July 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • AGuest9

      The point is that W doesn't have the brains to be able to fool others.

      July 8, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      I support your first contention that W did not need to fool anyone as his ethics were real.

      July 8, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Ethics are hard

      Where were GW's ethics during the swift boat adds? (The people talking were not with JK during combat.)
      Where were GW's ethics when Colin Powell was reiterating lies about the yellow cake from Niger?
      Where were GW's ethics when he told people to go out shopping after the 9/11 attacks?
      Where were GW's ethics when he lost flight status in the national guard?
      Where were GW's ethics when he pardoned someone who's actions lead to the death of CIA assets?
      Where we GW's ethics when the cost of two wars was done as emergency appropriations?

      GW was a typical politician. Distorting facts as desired to get his way.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Bush had the IQ of a horse.
      How many fingers am i holding up Georgie ?
      Clomp – Clomp – Clomp.....

      Good boy.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Freep, that's an insult to horses.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  16. rh

    The reason is because it is easier to see someone's ethics by what they say and do. The GOP has no solution for any of the US's problems, they are just anti-Obama. The issues do not matter because all they say is "and we won't do that" but they don't say what they WILL do.

    I don't want to vote for Obama, I think he is mediocre, but Romney is horrible. The GOP really screwed up with this guy and many independents like myself will vote for Obama to keep Romney out of office.

    July 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  17. Rainer Braendlein

    Get the real knowledge about politics:

    I guess, one of the best books, which was ever written about political leadership, is the "Antimachiavell" by King Frederic the Great of Pruzzia.

    There are two editions of the Antimachiavell: One was modified by Voltaire and the other one is the genuine scripture of Frederic. I would recommend only the original scipture of Frederic.

    July 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      If you want some real knowledge do not listen to this person's postings.

      July 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • oddjob2234

      All that person did was recommend a book. What have you added?

      July 8, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Next Voice will want to just burn the book instead.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Body language tells all.
      Mitts body language "SCREAMS" Liar.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      That is a new one. So you will be pushing for the debates to be moved to Chippendales so we can factor in body language?

      Come on dude.... if you are a Obama supporter you will naturally say that Romney is bad and if you are a Romney supporter you will say the same about Obama.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @oddjob2234
      "All that person did was recommend a book. What have you added?"

      Apparently you do not know anything about this poster, unless you do and you agree with his viewpoints. He's a nutcase.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @oddjob2234

      And one post of your's was a one word response "Derp!"? You are an idiot.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  18. fred37ify

    Romney ran Bain Capital and it did quite well ! Barrack ran the US and got it's credit downgraded in less then 3 years ! Enough said !

    July 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Polergiest

      *face palm* and the one trillion we borrowed dropping bombs in Iraq for no return had nothing to do with it?

      July 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • rh

      Who did Bain Capital do quite well for?

      July 8, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • .

      Romney's specialty at Bain Capital was taking stressed businesses and turning them around. When the Salt Lake Olympics became stressed, Utah turned to Mitt and he turned it around and made it a huge success. Now, the United States is in severe economic stress. My money is on Romney!

      July 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Cort

      Sorry Fred, not "enough said." We got downgraded because the party of nitwits (i.e. the GOP) refused to compromise. You gotta tell the whole story.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      US credit rating was downgraded by S&P because of Tea party refusal
      to raise debt limit.
      Why are you lying ?

      July 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  19. Tr1Xen

    A president who sidesteps Congress to force his controversial agenda on the American people is one who lacks good ethics.

    July 8, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Larry L

      You don't have a Congress when one side of the isle filibusters 138 times – avoiding all debate and even blocking initiatives they created in committee. When the House only considers radical abortion and tacks that issue on the defense budget you don't have a Congress. The President's choice was to act independently or allow Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to create failure to boost their political fortunes. What would you do?

      July 8, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Polergiest

      It's called checks and balances.

      July 8, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • shep

      Yeah, that Emancipation Proclamation really hurt Abraham Lincoln. Think before you post.

      July 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Jason

      That would be pretty much all of them who did something. And most of those people are the ones we like to refer as the greatest presidents of the US.

      July 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So what about Roosevelt's actions prior to the US's entrance into WWII?

      July 8, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Was the Lend/Lease program unethical?

      July 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Harlon Katz

      @Larry – It is interesting how you _conveniently_ leave out the fact that Reid doesn't even allow certain bills up for a vote – something even WORSE than the filibuster because it is just a single, powerful, Democrat ruling us all.

      July 8, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Paul Elkins

      At both Larry and Harlon – The simple fact is both democrats and republicans use tactics both of you complained about. Harlon can't really state that when the republicans controlled the house and senate they allowed all bills to be debates, at least not truthfully. Also, the democrats have done plenty of filibusters. The simple fact is this article is silly because both parties parties and the politicians in them seem to follow the same ethics rulebooks. It's also very difficult to judge the "ethics" of candidates since they seem to change on the fly. Obama has demonstrated history of flip flopping while in office, and Romney has also been labeled the "etch a sketch" candidate. How ethical is it to simply tell people what you think they want to hear in order to try to gain votes, and thus power, and then ignore all of that when it's convenient to do so?

      July 8, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • fred37ify

      Aside from the fact that Barrack hides his past from the American people , you make a good point !

      July 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What is it Obama is "hiding", fred? And if it's hidden, how do you know about it?

      July 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Larry L

      Harlon Katz – the only bills Reid has not allowed up for a vote never went through bi-partisan committee and lacked any substance beyond political gamesmanship. The very few presented were radical political statements designed to appease the Tea Party and never intended for serious debate or development. They were simply trying to force votes to get Democrats from red states to officially move to the far right-wing. Tell me what was blocked other than those "statements". You heard Mitch McConnell's only goal – to "make President Obama a one-term President".

      July 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Larry L

      Harlon Katz – of the 15 bills Reid blocked all were either gifts to big oil, coal, or Wall Street. They were called "jobs bills" and all had political riders about abortion or other right-wing social issues. Most of them either reduced the controls on environmental pollution or gave the financial industry less control over unscrupulous behavior that caused the recession.

      July 8, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Cort

      I assume you are referring to GW Bush?

      July 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      **** Harlon Katz

      @Larry – It is interesting how you _conveniently_ leave out the fact that Reid doesn't even allow certain bills up for a vote – something even WORSE than the filibuster because it is just a single, powerful, Democrat ruling us all.
      -----------------------------------------------------

      If Republicans would stop adding pork filled pet projects to these bills
      maybe they would be worth passing.

      July 8, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  20. BADGUY

    HARRRRRUMPH!

    I'M A TOTAL IDIOT.

    July 8, 2012 at 11:49 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.