I've been thinking about ethical standards of truthfulness lately. I've noticed that the Democrats (Obama in particular) do a much, much better job of this than the Republicans.
I ran across this article that captures it perfectly. I recommend the entire article, but this is the gist:
For Republicans, there is no longer any moral taboo whatsoever against lying outright. The only relevant question is whether the lie is effective -- not whether it should have been done in the first place. Karl Rove can rail against the inexperienced nature of one vice presidential candidate -- a Democrat -- and without the slightest bit of explanation (or shame), but happily pipe up with praise for an unequivocally, plainly less experienced Republican pick. It is not expected that he be self-consistent in the slightest. Everyone understands from the outset that his role is to say bad things about Democrats, and good things about Republicans, and if the two things conflict spectacularly it is not considered a symbol of his dishonesty or evidence of a histrionic maliciousness towards factual discourse. It is merely spin. He can make a farce of his own prior arguments -- what does it matter? If he is comfortable with it, and the people who look to him for guidance rally behind it, then we can Newspeak our way into and out of any argument as neat as you please.
So what of it, if offshore drilling will not reduce gas prices. It's fine to say it anyway -- it doesn't matter. So what if the President of the United States says "we do not torture", and then we discover that the White House itself authorized acts that are torture under any rational definition of the word. He's the President, he can lie about anything he likes, as long as it has nothing to do with sex. And honestly, even if it does.
So what of it, if Sarah Palin says crooked things with a straight face? Name me one Republican who will object. Name me one -- just ONE -- diehard conservative who will be angry at the lie, instead of praising her for it. To hell with facts, there is another election to be won.
This is why I consider the Republican Party to be, at this point, a wrecked party. There is no self-consistent philosophy other than the acquisition and protection of their own power: there are certainly no moral or ethical boundaries that the party will internally enforce. John Edwards, a Democrat, had his political career effectively terminated when news of an affair came to light; a Republican can visit a prostitute wearing a diaper, and find himself easily forgiven. You can lie, you can staff your government with morons and ideologues, you can give a speech saying one thing while doing the exact opposite (a Bush specialty, in his State of the Union speeches. We bemoan constantly the Democrats' failure to keep a unified front, in order to pass a more meaningful agenda -- but you would be hard pressed to find even a single, lone Republican in Washington willing to buck the moral collapse of their own party. Such people once existed: they were voted out of office. All that remain are "mavericks" like McCain, figures who will countermand every previous belief in order to regain the support of his own party.