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Free «Ethical Dilammas of Travel Gate Scandal» Essay Sample

Introduction

Ethical dilemma is a complicated scenario which will more often than not, involve a mental conflict between moral necessities where complying with one's demands would result in contravening another's. It can also be known as paradox of ethics. A perfect example is the ethical prerequisite of 'respect your parents' is in some cases especially in the current world not always just as in the situation where a parent rapes the child; the child will no longer respect the parents, rather he/she will either fear the parent or detest him. But preempting the disrespect before the act of the parent contravenes the basic ethics.

Travel gate scandal which was also known as white house travel office controversy was the first major storm of ethics of Bill Clinton's administration. Its advent was in mid 1993 where seven employees who served at the mercy of the president were fired without warning. Until their sacking, they worked at the White House Travel Office. These sackings were unusual since these kinds of employees had served in those kinds of positions for years and it was the first time such a drastic measure was being taken. The White House claimed that there were irregularities in finance of the operations of the Travel Office hence they had to be shown the door to pave way for investigations. As usual in every situation, critics emerged opposing the firings citing a collusion of friends of Bill Clinton to dominate and gain from the travel business of the White House. The ever present media coerced the White House to give back some of the employees their jobs and replace the so called 'Clinton's friends'.

Ethical dilemma

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Hillary Clinton, the wife to the then president Bill Clinton was later found out to be involved in the scandal after she initially denied any involvement. She was, as found out by the investigation, involved deeply in the firings of the these people who worked in the White House Travels as Lorraine Voles, the then deputy secretary and also one of the witnesses said that she had Susan Thomas say that Hillary Clinton wanted the employees fired. With his conversations with the First Lady, David Watkins noted Mrs. Clinton saying that they needed their people in the business and the others out as they would be able to run things better and save money (Aman, 1993).

The dilemma of the president was that his wife was grossly involved that he could not shield her and all he could do was hide the truth from the Americans. This was a huge failure from the highest office where accountability and transparency is expected at all times. In the report of the House Oversight Committee, they pointed out that the mistake the administration of the White House did was neither in the sacking of the seven employees in the Travel Office since they served at the behest of the president who could hire and fire them at will, but the gross failure of the White House under Clinton was failure to come out clearly shielding the truth from the people. The committee spent three and a half years trying to uncover what the White House did not want to say thus wasting time and resources but above all, tainting severely the Office of the President.

The president was torn between loyalty to his friend Harry Thompson and the principles of a public office thus starting off the most embarrassing scandal of political cronyism during his term as the president.

 
 
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He wanted to reward the friend with business of white travel, therefore they had to find excuses to execute firings and therefore take over from the employees. The American public, always vigilant, sensed sinister motives and reacted with anger over the firings as the White House staff contended in the downplaying the scandal besides concealing the roles the President and the First Lady played in the scandal (Michael, 1997). They were trying to paint the picture of the fired employees as the culprits and not the victims the public believed them to be. They also had to protect the president from the embarrassment that the whole issue had caused for he stood for ethics and accountability thus falling far short of this was not much of an option.

Involvement of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was rightly interpreted to mean that they were concealing something big hence all eyes were on them. The Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice was also engaged in the unsuccessful cover up. There was also a well coordinated cover up plan that prevented the investigations from finding out who exactly played a part in firing of the employees and why they were fired in addition to persecuting the innocent victims. This scandalous activity by the White House seriously undermines the rights of those seven American citizens who could not defend themselves adequately against state operated machinery.

Hands tied by the situation, the president chose to sit back and let the situation play out itself as the evidence of Mrs. Clinton's meddling became more and more apparent. He was obviously in a fix especially after he promised the Americans the most ethical administration in the History of America. In an explicit portrayal of ethical dilemma, McLarty had no choice but to do the right thing he should have done long time ago, Confession. In mid 1993, the White House in a bid to do some image cleaning gave out a self-critical report on the firings that acknowledged the mistakes made in the scandal. It was partly written by the Chief of Staff McLarty, who reprimanded five officials in the White House that included Watkins, Kennedy, Cornelius, and even himself for improperly relieving the workers of their duties, for allowing Clinton's cronies involvement in the matter and also for appearing to force the FBI's involvement in the matter. As much as they did some air cleaning in the White House, many will view this just as a routine for scandals since no action was taken on officials suspected to may have taken part. Being the good president he was perceived to be, President Clinton publicly took the responsibility of the scandal though he was not directly involved. This is seen as standing up for the wife who was more obviously involved.

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Billy Dale who was the Director of the Travel office was indicted in 1994 on two charges of criminal conversion and embezzlement. Dale accepted that the funds were used but he had not stolen since they used most of it in the tips and off-the-book payments. He faced 20 years in prison if found guilty thus a lot was at stake. Much of the trial did not focus on the politics involves but rather the Dales personal account was the one up for scrutiny. He was acquitted of both charges by the jury in 1995.

 
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Evidence of Mrs. Clintons involvement would just not go away as in 1996, development were made as David Watkins pointed out that the First Lady was monumentally involved with additional involvement of Vince Foster and Harry Thompson. She desired action that was basically fire the Travel office Staff.  

Imagine a presidential accusation, the seven workers in the Travel office were hugely affected and reputations damaged just because the president who wanted to deliver the most ethical administration in America; was creating room for his cronies via his wife to gain unfairly on the deals. Even after most of the truth was out about the scandal, they continued with the case against Billy Dale who was now paying the price, price of unethical behavior or rather dilemma of ethics from the president. His involvement was not clear as there were no evidences but the White House could not just see that they were making fool of themselves. It was a waste of time to continue the cover up when all the details of scandal were out and the white house was the main culprit not to mention the amount of money spent in the investigations by the independent counsel that some people knew very well were unnecessary since all had been known. 

The presidential legacy of President Bill Clinton became severely damaged by the scandal of travel gate thus putting his name among the US presidents to have been involved in a many scandals while in office since there were many other scandals to follow such as the Lewiscky scandal, white water scandal among many others. Hillary Clinton was viewed by many as a manipulative lady as she used the power she had to employ FBI to jeopardize people's lives especially if one was standing between her and what she wanted. Ethically she was supposed to be diligent and transparent in her dealings while in White House but that was not the case, she had more important commitments to attend to than pay attention to ethics thus painting a bad picture of her. This came back to haunt her as she seek to become the Senator for New York City. Reports of her wide involvement in the scandal re-emerged just days before the elections in 2000 and many expected it to have major impact on her but that was not the case as she won the seat with much ease as well as becoming a close contender for the Democratic Party ticket in 2008 which President Obama Won. 

The scandal that was nothing but historic managed to spill over into the new millennium as the Travel gate critic William Safire who work for the new York times wrote a column titled 'Hillary the habitual prevaricator: six years later she clings to fiction that she was blameless in the travel gate'. 'She has been lying all along and the evidence available against her is damning' he wrote in the column. The public though felt differently with the independent counsel, they thought it was toothless and the investigations were a waste of time since not a single person responsible was held accountable for their actions.

 
 
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The loyal judicial system was also in a dilemma due to the glaring evidences against Hillary Clinton thus prompting them to find every means possible of letting her off the hook. She was in denial that she ordered the firing the workers saying that McLarty and Watkins were the ones responsible when in fact she was the one who ordered the firing. She even says that she only knew about their involvement via the newspaper; a gross behavior for a person who should be spotlessly clean in public dealings. Her statements were false as was found out by the independent counsel that she indeed had a hand in firing the employees. The independent counsel displays lack of ethics, in what could be perceived as loyalty to the white house; by there was insufficient proof to convince a jury that Clinton actually gave false statements and that she was indeed involved. After all the evidences, surely they had enough to hold the First Lady responsible. That was a major failure of ethics in the independent counsel hence losing the public trust as a watchdog for scandals. Many Americans therefore considered it useless hence leading to its disbandment.

Failure of the subsequent regimes to put an end to the scandal, one of the longest scandals in the history of America is also a failure of ethics in the part of government. The Bush administration was lax in its quest for truth or perhaps lack of any interest. They let it slide away so easily thus putting to question the accountability of the administration to its citizens. This leaves more questions than answers on whether future scandals will be dealt with satisfactorily (Henry, 2000). A Nation of USA's caliber is considered as an epitome for democracy and transparency thus with these kind of scandal, this perception is hugely scaled down thus hurting real bad the reputation of the nation.

The quest of Mrs. Clinton for a political office after the scandal is an outright slap in the face of what ethics stand for. With the knowledge of participation in a scandal at the back of the mind, she could not be more defiant than seek a senator's seat in 2000 let alone Democratic ticket to presidency in 2008. This shows clearly that very few in the administration of all the regimes after the scandal really care about accountability and bringing the culprit to book. With truth in the evidences, she deserved nowhere near that senate for she was a bug that could infect the rest of the people into her behavior (Keller, 1999). She first meddled in the firing, then lied to the independent counsel, then vied for a political office that she won... for sure there is no word to describe that. She has to bear the burden alone and face justice for the pain and agony she brought o the seven employees of the Travel Office. She should be modest enough to accept the role she played and at least publicly apologize to the public.

The president himself chose to keep quiet in the wake of all these thus raising eyebrows but understandable. She was of course protecting the family and the name, which is what many men would do in situations like this. But when it comes to leadership, especially of a Nation like America, standing out for truth is what makes you different from others. He should have realized that the nation is greater than anybody and no exception for that matter even in the family. His personal involvement was minimal but choosing to keep mum was the worst he could do during the time the country really needed guidance from a leader they entrusted with that job for 4 years. He weighed family to country, a thing that no great man does therefore he failed miserably here.

This controversy was later found out to be the factor behind Vince Foster's suicide in 1993. He was an employee of the White House. He said in his suicidal note that no one benefitted from the deals and therefore there was no any wrongdoing. A scandal that leads to death, and suicide for that matter is very serious and the people involved should be brought to book. Investigations were not all by the government bodies because the faith of the people in the credibility of the bodies of the government was waning thus other investigations such as the magazine 'American Spectator' carried out their own investigations( Wayne, 1996). This way many magazines during this time used this scandal to popularize their magazines and draw subscriptions.

Conclusion

Bill Clinton was regarded as a good president by many people of the United States as he took over administration. The amount of scandals that emerged during his reign undermined this faith the people had in him. Travel Gate scandal was a major disappointment by the Clinton administration as cronyism was considered a thing of the long past. His lack of interest in the matter was to say the least, the most inappropriate especially because his family was involved and he could have been modest enough to accept responsibility then work on damage control from then on instead of the damage control in denial by Mrs. Clinton. Mrs. Clinton on herself greatly undermined the husband's administration and the ethics that accompany the office of the Presidency thus depicting as a sham. Her constant denial up to date worsens the situation and still passes her across as unethical being in the leadership of America. The fact that she won the senators seat of New York just confirms how corrupt politics is not to mention the sheer ignorance of the electorate electing the untrustworthy to office year in year out.

The corrupt judicial system does not escape the hook here since the role they played in the scandal's investigation fell far short of standards and ethics of their work. The open evidences that came out in the investigation were enough to make her stand for her actions but for some reason. Probably loyalty to the presidency, this did not happen putting question marks all over the process. The agitated public had to call for the disbandment of the independent counsel because it spent s lot of money and time but came up with no constructive recommendations to bring the culprits to book. They had all the information they needed to indict the First Lady but they refrained from it thus pure lack of ethics from the judicial system. They were torn between loyalty to the president and accountability to the public.

   

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