Naughty Number Nine

A rule of thumb: public virtue tends to reside most in elected officials who quietly go about the business of enforcing minimal standards of conduct and ethics on themselves and their colleagues, who make enemies reluctantly. Look for people who (to quote a memorable bit of dialogue from Babylon 5), don’t usually start fights but always finish them. If you want to vote for someone who will demonstrate virtue in office, look for Atticus Finch before you look for Elliot Ness, for someone who embraces getting inside the skin of his opponents and has an empathy for everyone rather than someone who loudly brays about the demonic character of his enemies.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a Republican or a Democrat. A politician who wreathes himself in proclamations of personal virtue and who sets out to tirelessly hound the wicked is like an animal with brightly-colored skin warning of its own toxicity.

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