“My View” from the Nov. 1, 2012, edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
Don’t reward bad behavior.
It is one of the first rules of parenting. During the financial cataclysm of 2008 we said it differently, calling a bailout to banks that had created their own misfortune a “moral hazard” — so-called because the bailout absolved the bank’s bad acts and created an incentive once again to make the same bad loans that created the crisis in the first place.
We are now seeing the political equivalent: Editorial boards and columnists reward the bad behavior and negotiating tactics that created the political stalemate between the White House and Congress that has caused the public’s loss of respect for our political structure.
How and where? Read some of the editorials and columnists endorsing Romney. The common thread is that Romney will be able to work with the Republican Congress — he has shown the political facility to shift views, suggesting that he will be amenable to the sort of negotiations that can produce deals.
Let me reinterpret this: The Republican leadership who, as a cheap ploy, held the nation hostage on everything from the debt ceiling to meaningful jobs bills are being rewarded, and the politician — Mitt Romney — who by his own campaign’s admissions has been devoid of constancy on major ethical and fiscal issues, is being applauded for lacking principle.
Because Mitch McConnell and John Boehner brought governance to a halt — their only operating principle was to say “no” to the White House — we should serve up Mitt Romney as their chosen negotiating partner? Such is the logic of these amazingly cynical and disappointing columns. To read The Des Moines Register endorsement of Romney is to read a logic that would have justified Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of the Nazis: Cave to the entity that refuses to negotiate and then blame the party that does stand on proper principle, yet still tried in good faith to negotiate a deal for the public good. Such skewed logic is horrific to read.
Credit Ezra Klein and some others for shining the light on this, and shame on those who are rewarding the worst form of politics we have seen in many presidential cycles and the politicians whose campaigns have neither the guts nor the will to speak truth to the public about their views on the tough issues we face.
That’s “My View.”