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What Sacred Honor?

by Barnabas
August 14, 2002

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What Sacred Honor?_Barnabas-
“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”
—The concluding sentence of The Declaration of Independence
On the television series "The Practice," a judge summons a lawyer, the main character in the drama, into her chambers. “There is no honor in the way you practice law, Bobby,” she tells him. She likes him, she admires his skills, but she has lost her respect for him.

This has become my take on the Congress of the United States. I like its members and admire their skills, but I have lost my respect for them. There is no honor in their practice of politics.

The latest evidence in support of my judgment is their handling of a prescription benefit plan for senior Americans. While Senators of both parties weren’t exactly pledging their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to this cause, as did our founding fathers to the cause of independence, they were doing their best to sound as though they were.

This is the sticking point. Had the plan gone down in defeat because a sufficient minority was opposed in principle to benefit plan, there would be nothing absurd or unethical about it. It would be off my radar screen. By all reports, however, there were more than enough Senators endorsing the concept. They agreed that They Should Do Something About It. Then they did nothing.

In the real world — that is, anywhere but the federal government — a potentially unlimited public purse is not at our disposal. Yet most citizens, when a sufficient number of us agree that something within the purview of our responsibility must be done, make whatever adjustments and sacrifices necessary to see that something is done. Doing nothing is not an option. We feel honor-bound to do the best we can with what we have.

Clearly, Congress does not feel honor-bound. Its members will go home to their states and districts and act out their biennial imitation of a dysfunctional third-grade recess, pointing their fingers and tattling on the other guys.

No doubt there are honorable individuals in Congress, but there is no honor in how the political parties who control it pursue their own goals under the cloak of seeking the public good, no honor in the rules they have devised to make certain that public good serves political advantage in credit taken and blame assigned.

There is no longer any sacred honor to pledge. Where there is no honor, there is also no shame.

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