- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2008




I think it’s time for Bill Bennett to write another book.

America needs a kick-in-the-pants reminder of its humble beginnings. Or at the very least - our leaders need to re-read what the great guru of virtues has written in the past. A “Moral Compass,” “The Death of Outrage” - both appear to be lacking in these incestuous times of greed, desperation and character assassination. What has happened to our virtue? And why does no one seem to care?

Of the many virtues offered by the well-known “Book of Virtues” author, among those included in the Bible, and recited by our Founders, I will offer just a few that are worth revisiting by individuals as well as our institutions.

First, take a look at the financial disaster that’s played out on Wall Street and Congress’ subsequent bailout with taxpayer dollars. It didn’t happen overnight and if not corrected will repeat itself.

The notion of frugality seems to have lost its way as lawmakers consider yet another $150 billion stimulus package this week (on top of the $700 billion just approved and the $168 billion that was signed into law in the summer.) Economic greed perpetuated by lax government oversight and desperation disguised as compassion for homeowners, put us on this path. A return to the virtues of thrift and self responsibility, it seems, should be the order of the day.

Thrift: economical management; wise economy in the management of money and other resources. Self responsibility: a duty; obligation.

Our elected leaders have a duty and an obligation to “wisely” manage the economy. We have had great examples. Ronald Reagan was one; Another, as described by one MSNBC commentator, was Dwight Eisenhower, “a steward of a broken system,” he said. The kind of stewardship in dire need today.

The second moral outrage of our present day is voter fraud.

Community organizer ACORN - which wants us to focus on the millions of “correct” signatures accumulated during voter registration drives over the years - has been an assault on the American voting process. Not only are there several cases where ACORN workers have been convicted of voter fraud, but no less than a dozen new investigations are taking place right now (including at least 5,000 questionable signatures that came in all at once right before voter registration deadlines).

How is it that an organization which at one time employed Barack Obama as legal counsel endorsed his candidacy and to whom the presidential candidate’s campaign has paid over $800,000 - can, with a straight face, not only claim to be non-partisan but expect anyone to believe their get-out-the-vote efforts are above board?

Some of the most egregious cases are taking place in Ohio, where at least one witness (and there have been many) gave FOX News this accounting of his experience:

Witness: People from ACORN are always asking me to sign a registration to vote. So, I do it to help them for their job.

Question: Did you tell them that in fact you’d already registered to vote?

Witness: Yes, but, I mean, they ask me or come up with a sob story of why they need the signature. And I just write it for them. I didn’t know that you only had to register once.

Question: Did you tell them that you’d already registered?

Witness: Yes.

Another woman told FOX she was consistently preyed upon by ACORN as she got off the bus in Cleveland each day. She said she registered to vote six times and didn’t realize she had done anything wrong until an election official called and told her that her ability to vote this election, could be in jeopardy. Troubling too, since she would be exercising her right to vote for the very first time. Way to send a message to our youth ACORN.

ACORN (and any other “non-partisan” group like them) need a dose of : adherence to moral and ethical principles. ACORN has a duty to maintain integrity in the voting process, not sign up as many people as often as they can, and see which ones stick. And Mr. Obama could exercise some real leadership here, not only speaking out against voter intimidation - but blatant voter fraud.

And finally, there is what has become the politics of personal attacks (liars, cheaters and terrorist sympathizers among us.)

John McCain called Mr. Obama a liar. Mr. Obama called Mr. McCain unstable. Gentlemen, please. A little civility goes a long way. Civility: Courteous behavior. It doesn’t mean one can’t (or shouldn’t) attack his opponent or call his judgment into question, but the name calling is not very becoming of a would-be president. The opponents’ record (or lack thereof) should speak for itself. Stick to pointing out contrasts - they can be just as fiery.

We (the people) retain the power to elect our public officials. We expect them to be good stewards over the free-market government system that runs on our money, and we expect our electoral process to be free of corruption and influence. When our Founders said “We hold these Truths to be self-evident,” that meant self-sustaining - granting the benefit of the doubt to individuals to discern, with moral reasoning, the difference between right and wrong. In addition, it acknowledges that government is limited (as outlined in the Constitution) - the power comes from the people.

In Mr. Bennett’s “Death of Outrage,” he said: “In America we do not defer to kings, cardinals, or aristocrats; we rely instead on the people’s capacity to make reasonable judgments based on moral principles.”

The beauty of a free society foundation is that it allows for mistakes and misjudgments to be made (we are human after all). The problem is - when those judgments are devoid of moral reasoning.

Tara Wall is deputy editorial page editor of The Washington Times. [email protected] times.com.

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