This is not a moral evaluation, as no person on earth is totally qualified to judge another in that way, given how our values and behavior are a product of our environment and upbringing.

However, I write a great deal about "integrity" and "responsibility" as the great essentials for happy, effective living.   Here's my take on this:

Integrity defined:   State of being whole, complete, or undiminished.  Fully integrated and consistent.

In this case, we are talking about being consistent with what benefits the stakeholders, which in this case are the American citizens (and some other established residents, who might not be able to vote, but who do contribute as a part of the fabric of the US).  Integirity is about how one acts in respect to getting results that are consistent with what is appropriate; it is a results based conversation not a moral one.

When one does something that is not consistent with the highest benefit in a particular area, one is considered to "not be in integrity". 


If, as is probable and admitted by savvy Democrats, Obama put off the decision on the Keystone Pipeline for a year for political purposes, he was acting "not in integrity".   I put my estimation of the integrity grade next to the item, as one assessment, which you might modify depending on your assessment - but please don't do "prejudicial" non-reasoning, as it does not serve your interests.

Oil production - D.  If he takes credit by implication for oil production rising in his administration, he is "manipulating" the American public.   This may not be in integrity because it has the public be less informed (and misled), so it is less able to intervene and make good judgments.  The fact is that he has made significant moves that have had significant ill effects.  (See Oil, Energy.)

Implementing energy policies - C- (A in parts).  If he makes a bad decision on implementing alternative energy sooner, this is just a bad decision, an error from lack of planning and experience.  It is just a matter of lack of capability in making such decisions, though even capable people can make mistakes, but just lots fewer of them.  This is not "not in integrity", per se, though it is "not in integrity" to take on a job for which one knows one is not capable.  Surely, he must have known that to some extent, but apparently he, in his lack of experience, did not know that he couldn't do it - he failed to see what the job entailed and was optimistic.  That did hurt our nation.  (Read Confidence Men, by Suskind, on the quotes about this being the case.)

Some are questionable, some are clear

The bottomline here is that some items might be questionable as to whether they were "not in integrity", but others are very clear and ascertainable. 

Keystone Pipeline - F.  Even savvy Democrats see the delay of the pipeline decision until after the election as purely political.  An objective person would have approved it, but Obama didn't want to alienate any voters. 

Excessive regulation, hurting business:

He is committed to high ideals and is likely not knowledgeable enough to make effective tradeoff decisions, so he will overdo it, in order not to make mistakes on the wrong side.  To the extent he is aware of the tradeoffs and he is doing it to please his poltical base but not do what is right for the country, he is "not in integrity."  Here, I would weight his "not in integrity" at 20%, with his naivete and management inability being the cause of the other errors.  (Some regulations, of course, are not errors, so I am talking about the excessive part of regulating.)

Not explaining the actual cause of inequality; engaging in the "unfairness" campaign

Here, again, we do not know whether he is just unknowledgeable about the actual causes and basic economics, so we have to give a large dose of allowances.  It is not unreasonable to think that his advisors are able to see what the actual causes are, so he must have been informed to some extent.  It appeas that he is using this as a poltical wedge issue, twisted into "the rich are getting richer and that is making you poorer", taking advantage of people not knowing any better.  (See Inequality and its causes around international competition, lack of education, and cultural changes.)  If the facts are not understood by the public, and it is "not in integrity" not to explain the facts, then he is using this to reinforce political wedge issues and to further fuel the fire of "class warfare", so he can get more support by urging "tax the rich" and get rid of the "unfairness" - those are appealing issues - and they represent gross manipulation and misleading of people based on their lack of knowing the facts.  (The fact that the tax those over a million dollar proposal yields only $47 billion dollar, about 3.4% of the deficit, would suggest that it is a ruse - and that it is hiding the inevitable costs that must befall the middle class - and therefore it is reasonable to suggest that he is "highly not in integrity" in this area.  If my assessment is correct, which seems highly likely, I feel betrayed on his promises to be fair and to operate differently in Washington - I also feel very sad about the way he operates - and it is unacceptable.  It is just plain against the interests of Americans!  

The healthcare legislation is largely integrous, but the means and conversation are not integrous.  

Am I trying to have it both ways here or can the pieces be separated out? 

It is, I think, in integrity to cover healthcare for stakeholders who can't afford it on their own.  It is not in integrity to not reveal the actual extra costs and to "fool" people into thinking it will lower the deficit or not cost anything.  To the extent it is financed by raising taxes on medical equipment manufacturers and the almost 4% tax on high income people (above $250,000), it would be integrous to the idea of proper, responsible financing.  To the extent that $500 billion was taken from Medicare Advantage and that one failed to mention that taking that money away from that program creates a "hole" elsewhere but later, it is a downright "clear untruth", a sales trick to sell the thing to those who simply do not understand, which apparently includes a number of the legislators.  To the extent that people were not clearly informed that the ten year "surplus" of the program was produced by having 10 years worth of revenue but only six years of cost, the proponents were "not in integrity". 

So, we have a few "integrity" points earned offset to some degree by "not in integrity" misleading of the public, who will have to pay more than even was put in the law as taxes.  I am disappointed that this was done in a misleading fashion.  (And many of the theoretical cost savings are presented as if they are fact, which was clearly not true.)   The true net cost which the taxpayers will have to come up with is at least a trillion dollars over any decade.

I, myself, would have been happy to make the tradeoff, as long as there were no "free riders", such as the individual mandate was designed to cover, but I am not happy with the bad economic effect and the inevitable costs in jobs because of the employer mandate - that cost is not revealed at all - the cost is immeasurable but has to be considerable - that could mostly be to poor design. 

Tax the rich - D.   While it is not "not in integrity" to have those who can afford to pay more in fact ponying up more, it is "not in integrity" to not inform the public that the proposals to tax the rich more have only an effect in dollars of 3 to 5% of the deficit.  The "lie" that is in this is that the public is not informed that there is a "tax liability" that is incurred to cover spending, though it is not paid until later (i.e. it is added to the debt) - so it seems invisible, except to those who do long term reasoning about the consequences.  That reasoning is not that difficult, but the President must explain what is going on, or he is lying by omitting the truth.  It is unethical to spend alot more than one is bringing in, period, unless in an extreme emergency - and it is unethical to not let people know that the bird will come home to roost, on the middle class and on the young people who will get the full brunt later. 

Forgiving student loans, lowering mortgage rates - not informing public of the costs - D-.  Of course, it is "good" to help people out and it is always popular to give away things, for those who receive them.  And it is even popular to not have to pay now for something that one later owes, with added interest (this is just "not being aware").  Of course, it is "good" to keep people in their homes if this is what will make the difference, so that there is less damage from incurring losses.  Forgiving student loans earlier means that there will be less revenue coming in future generation, which will end up with the future generation, but other people, paying more, for the benefit of those who have had loans forgiven.  And lowering interest rates on existing mortgages has a cost in loss of value from the old mortgages - and if government agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are involved, which is the case here, then the bailout will have to be increased - and the taxpayers are paying. 

The problem of integrity here lies in not informing people about it not being a free lunch and having to be paid later.   The problem is if it is redistribution, which it is, and if it encourages an entitlement mentality, and the corresponding increase in dependency on other sources to relieve one of one's incurred costs for one's own benefit.

Uncivil language and blame - D.  Admonishing people to use civil language and then using names and labels that are divisive and contentious.  Fat cat bankers, the rich and implied "unfairness" and fault for the rich causing the poor to be poor.    

To address 

Targeting the rich, oil companies, the "unfairness" while others are suffering

Note for the site

Possibility:  Do an "integrity check" series for Obama, where people can read and then decide and then give feedback on the subject, via not only page on a site, but on a blog.