The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Ethical Political Redemption

One of the great problems of political life is the question of whether politicians and senior bureaucrats can change. Can they learn from their experiences? Can they become more ethical?

We know pretty well that becoming a powerful politician can destroy a person’s ethical moorings: They wind up doing things that, as a private citizen without power, they considered abominable.

Apologists for a current government always call this becoming “practical,” but I’ll posit that this is rarely so, except in personal terms–the principled politician is generally taken care of quite well for giving up his or her principles. (You can see this in John Kerry’s career, if you care.)

The more important question is: Can a politician with bad judgement and terrible ethics learn?

For example,suppose you were in favor of the Iraq war. Can you be trusted if you say, “It was a mistake?” If you were in favor of Welfare Reform (which hurt the weakest and least powerful people in America terribly), same.

The simple answer is that a politician must prove they have learned through their actions.

Hillary Clinton is not credible saying she’s learned from the Iraq fiasco, because she was also for Libya. She didn’t learn the practical lesson (destroying a regime is easy, not having the country become a failed state is hard); nor did she learn the ethical lesson (don’t attack countries who haven’t attacked you).

Clinton is not credible, because her actions have not changed. She’d be for the next Iraq in a heartbeat and find reasons to justify such an action. Her rhetoric against Russia and Putin might as well be from the Cold War and is a great threat to world peace (and survival).

But the lesson here is larger: Don’t pay attention to what politicians say, pay attention to what they do. Look at their record. If they want to say they’ve changed, you need something concrete to prove that.

And if you’re looking for someone who you know you can trust, look for them to have taken hits for their beliefs. Sherrod Brown came into the House a left-wing champion, but when he ran for the Senate he voted for torture because he felt he needed to in order to win.

Not trustworthy. Does not actually believe in what they say when the chips are down.

Some compromises are necessary in legislative careers, no question. But there are lines a person of integrity won’t cross. Those lines differ by belief system, but if someone crosses the lines of your belief system, they aren’t one of your people. They aren’t a leader of your ideological faction, whatever that is.

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  1. V. Arnold

    Some compromises are necessary in legislative careers, no question. But there are lines a person of integrity won’t cross. Those lines differ by belief system, but if someone crosses the lines of your belief system, they aren’t one of your people. They aren’t a leader of your ideological faction, whatever that is. Ian

    Yes; lines one won’t cross! A rare trait these days IME.
    To hold that line is a very costly value to keep. I’ve known this first hand, on more than one occasion…
    Thanks for this Ian.

  2. NRG

    “But the lesson here is larger: don’t pay attention to what politicians say, pay attention to what they do.” This is a vital lesson that far too many Americans have failed to learn. That failure goes hand in hand with our religiosity. But there will be pie in the sky when we die, so. . .

  3. V. Arnold

    Ethical Political Redemption

    When I re-read that title, I chocked on the oxymoronish quality of that missive.
    I do not believe there can be redemption for a political system so utterly lacking in ethics; even ethics of a most perverse nature are totally lacking. I cannot muster a modicum of respect for a system so utterly bankrupt even its vile corruption winds back upon itself to eat its progeny.
    One thing that is beyond redemption is my cynicism of the U.S. system of governance/dominance.
    Short of a revolution, there is no solution.
    Everything else is just a re-jigging of the system from within…

  4. Her rhetoric against Russia and Putin might as well be from the Cold War and is a great threat to world peace (and survival.)

    And Putin has ethically redeemed himself into Mahatma Ghandi?

  5. Alan Smithee

    That\’s funny. She used to be trustworthy enough. Check it out:

    \”I have a slight preference for Hillary at this point, but it’s so slight that I really don’t much care who anyone votes for in the primary and I completely understand the pro-Obama arguments. Both the candidates are very flawed, in my opinion. But this idea that you’re going to punish Hillary by not voting for her in the general is just a way of punishing yourself.\”

    So what\’s happened between then and now? Did Hillary drop you from her Christmas card list? Or was it more about sneering down your nose at people who were trying to be ethical at the time? I\’m guessing that was it. Anyroad, nevermind the empty suits you used to shame people into supporting. When did you start giving a rat\’s ass about integrity or ethics? That\’s what I want to know.

  6. Synoia

    can they become more ethical.

    1. No (that’s my opinion)
    2. Show an example, and I’ll readily review it and my opinion.

    A quote: Power tends to Corrupt and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men. (Lord Acton, 1st Baron Acton)

    See both Clinton and Obama.

  7. Ian Welsh

    I didn’t say she was ethical, just that Clinton was enough better than McCain to vote for in the general—and that she wasn’t that much worse than Obama. Which I stand by. If you were willing to vote for Obama, why not vote Clinton?

    Obama making Clinton his Secretary of State proves my point, since foreign affairs is where Clinton ran to his right.

    (I didn’t believe Obama’s opposition to the Iraq war was “real”. He himself had said that had he been in Congress he might have voted for it. His actions afterwards have vindicated me as well. If he’d learned the lesson of Iraq, he wouldn’t have allowed Libya.)

    I’m a lot less willing now to make the “lesser evil” argument, mind you, but that’s not relevant to the case you brought up.

  8. Ian Welsh

    I am on the record, repeatedly, that Putin is an evil man. Though I find him more trustworthy and competent than Clinton, separate issues.

    I’m not willing to risk a nuclear war over him doing shit in nations that were part of the USSR or which have been Russian allies for decades, especially when those nations have been deliberately destabilized by other actors.

  9. S Brennan

    “And Putin has ethically redeemed himself into Mahatma Ghandi?” – “johnm55”

    “I am on the record, repeatedly, that Putin is an evil man”

    Please list, without misrepresentation, what are Putin’s crimes that exceeds those that the US accepts from itself and it’s allies? I can’t think of any. If you say Crimea for example; I’ll think you a laughable fool, the press, holy cow, then the US Turkey’s actions have him by a factor of a thousand.

    Putin’s only crime that goes beyond US/Germany/Britain/Turkey/Saudi-[and other gulf states] SOP’s it seems, is his willingness to wrestle the blood-funnel out of Russia’s throat.

  10. markfromireland

    @ johnm55 May 25, 2016

    And Putin has ethically redeemed himself into Mahatma Ghandi?

    Try to do better than sub-sophomoric whataboutery the next time would you? That particular effort of yours was so bad that I was actually embarassed on your behalf.

  11. Shh

    I can never tell which is worse: malevolence or incompetence. Redemption is not in the cards for politicians.

    Re: the Putin squabble. Of course he’s an evil man, he’s a politician. Is he more evil than Western politicians? IMF/ECB “leaders”? Of course not. The sheer amount of hell that has been unleashed by simple minded neo-liberal rot is unparalleled even in Mao’s great transformation. Stalin would be impressed by the callous efficiency of austerity in bringing needless suffering to untold millions.

    TTP, TTIP, tar sands, monsanto, on and on and on. Add in the great wealth transfer of 2008 and the never ending Halliburton gift package and only a madman would claim Putin is worse than any Western official short of Kucinich and Corbyn.

    And there can be no redemption.

  12. sidd

    Jimmy Carter ?

  13. Hugh

    Hillary Clinton is the worst kind of leader. She doesn’t just make mistakes, big mistakes, the kind that cost a lot of other people their lives and leave ruin and chaos in her wake. She doubles down on them and persists in them long after virtually everyone else has come to realize that they were mistakes. And then she repeats them.

    Clinton voted for the Iraq War. During the next 12 years, her principal criticism of the war was not that it was a mistake but that she could do it better. This is another defining characteristic of the Clinton way of doing things. She doesn’t recognize that mistakes are to be avoided. Her argument, and it is a really strange one, is that she, because of her RECORD and EXPERIENCE, can do these mistakes BETTER. Just contemplate for a moment the sheer cluelessness of someone who thinks it is a plus to argue that they make better mistakes.

    And it wasn’t just that. During those 12 years, she angrily attacked, derided, and arrogantly dismissed those who did not agree with the war, you know the people who got it right. Finally, in June 2014, 12 years (OK, 11 years and 8 months) after her vote for the Iraq AUMF in October 2002, she revised her position on the war in typically legalistic Clintonesque fashion. She did so in a in a well controlled venue, a book with the wildly inappropriate title Hard Choices (since the hard choice was opposing the war) where she couldn’t be cross-examined and for which she got a multi-million dollar advance. With the Clintons, it is always about the benjamins.

    Anyway, here is her non-explanatory explanation and non-apology apology:

    “I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn’t alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple.”

    This is like an engineer designing a plane that keeps crashing killing all on board. After years of denying that there was any problem, she comes out and says that her calculations were correct but the numbers she was given were wrong. Oh, and lots of other people made the same mistake.

    What Clinton’s statement overlooks, of course, is that that plenty of people pointed out the dangers which she chose to ignore. Instead she slammed and belittled those who tried to avert the Iraq disaster. Nor is there anything about why it took her 12 years to even partially understand the nature of her screw up or long after virtually every other being on the planet with a pulse. Only grifters like the Clintons would then take this monumental, impossibly bad example of self-serving, poor judgment and seek to spin it into the gold cloth of “foreign policy experience” or even more ludicrously a Hard Choice.

    What her statement on the Iraq War does illustrate, however, is another Clinton tactic. Issue a statement (in legalese) on one of her many bad decisions and then move on as if the issue has forever been answered and is now irrevocably closed.

    I have gone on at some length on this one subject, but have only scratched the surface of just how bad Hillary Clinton is. You can find similar examples with Libya, Syria, the TPP, and the Keystone pipeline, to name a few. Beyond these, there is Hillary Clinton and the abuse of power with her email server. There is the corrupt Hillary Clinton with her speeches to Wall Street and the Clinton Global Initiative. There is the blatantly lying in your face Hillary Clinton paid for by Wall Street who tells the rubes she’s going to fight for them, that she is going to create jobs for them. There is the “I’m so experienced” Hillary Clinton who’s solution to the economy is to turn it over to her grifter husband Bill.

    For redemption, there must be both the awareness of error and the desire to atone. Both of these acts are totally alien to Hillary Clinton, and Bill too, for that matter. They are grifters. And the first rule of the con is never to admit the con. The second is to take the money and run. It is in the con, not redemption, that you really see what makes the Clintons tick.

  14. Steeleweed

      Integrity in general is a rarity. In 50 years of business, I’ve known only a handful of people with integrity in positions of authority. (Oddly enough, I find folk singers and similar artists to have more integrity than any other group, perhaps because they are automatically non-establishment and have nothing to lose. “Ain’t no money in poetry: That’s what sets a poet free”).
      Courage, compassion, integrity are matters of character. 99% of a politician’s persona is a matter of projecting a particular personality, and there’s a big difference between personality and character.
      I agree that we must judge people – and not only politicians – by what they do rather than what they say. “Talk is cheap”.

  15. Ian Welsh

    Under Putin, in Chechnya, mass murder and torture were used to crush the rebellion.

    Now arguments can be made as to “who is less evil”, but I’ll probably bow out of that game.

    I do not need to believe someone is good to either understand what they’re doing or to support specific actions which I think wise.

    Under certain circumstances I may even suggest supporting the less evil option but I do need to be convinced there is a substantial upside to the one I suggest. I do not support constant lesser-evildom, however, as it leads to inevitable slides. At some point one does have to wash ones hands of “net evil” if the situation is not going to get worse.

    It’s not clear to me, in the current US election, that Clinton is noticeably less evil than Trump.

  16. Ian Welsh


    you ok with me putting that comment up as a post?

  17. S Brennan

    ” in Chechnya, mass murder and torture were used to crush the rebellion” or USA sponsored terrorism?

    “This harshness towards Putin is perhaps explained by the fact that, in the US, the leading group which pleads the Chechen cause is the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya (ACPC). The list of the self-styled “distinguished Americans” who are its members is a rollcall of the most prominent neoconservatives who so enthusastically support the “war on terror”.

    They include Richard Perle, the notorious Pentagon adviser; Elliott Abrams of Iran-Contra fame; Kenneth Adelman, the former US ambassador to the UN who egged on the invasion of Iraq by predicting it would be “a cakewalk”; Midge Decter, biographer of Donald Rumsfeld and a director of the rightwing Heritage Foundation; Frank Gaffney of the militarist Centre for Security Policy; Bruce Jackson, former US military intelligence officer and one-time vice-president of Lockheed Martin, now president of the US Committee on Nato; Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, a former admirer of Italian fascism and now a leading proponent of regime change in Iran; and R James Woolsey, the former CIA director who is one of the leading cheerleaders behind George Bush’s plans to re-model the Muslim world along pro-US lines. ”

  18. Lemonhead

    Hugh, that was a brilliant post!

  19. Ian Welsh

    I find enough of the reports convincing. I’m not going to play link games, a simple web search on Chechnya and Torture brings up plenty.

    In the same way there is no doubt in my mind that Assad has a nasty torture habit. I still think that inciting/supporting rebellion against Assad was stupid and inhumane. Heck, Saddam and his nasty sons had a torture problem, and I didn’t support the Iraq war.

    I do not require the belief that someone is good to be objective about them. There are idiots who think I’m a Putinite because I wrote articles saying I found Russia’s reaction in Crimea reasonable and understandable. Likewise I think that Putin has in many respects been a competent ruler and a great improvement over what came before him.

    Competence and a willingness to do a certain amount of evil aren’t contradictory traits. I prefer someone like Putin, who is rational, competent and evil to someone like George W. Bush.

    But both are bad men.

    (Yes, a lot of people have been bad men. Fuck, sometimes I’ve supported some of them, and felt dirty afterwards, but I refuse to debase myself further pretending that they aren’t evil. At the least, let us rest in as much of the truth as we can manage. And even men I consider as good as you can get in a ruler, like FDR, have done some really bad shit on occasion. Still, torture leaves a bad taste.)

  20. realitychecker

    People who make dumb governmental decisions that get other people killed needlessly should never be allowed anywhere near the controls of government again.


    It’s unfair to their career aspirations? Too bad, so sad. Ask the needlessly dead people how THEY feel about it.

    We need their talent and experience? What, in 350,000,000 people, we can’t find anyone to take the job who hasn’t already needlessly killed a bunch of innocent people? If that’s the case, then let’s all kill ourselves right now and get it over with.

    Once upon a time, people of honor resigned, and did not ask for another chance to fail in public service. But now, the “honorable resignation” has gone the way of the “conflict of interest.”

    Kind of silly to speak of ethics in the absence of those two concepts, isn’t it?

  21. Carla

    Ian, thank you for the example of Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in your post. He practically walks on water in what pass for progressive circles here in my state; I can confirm that he’s a total sell-out. Fortunately, this year, I will be able to vote for a Senate candidate since Joe DeMare will be on the Ohio ballot, running as a Green.

  22. Shh

    The “I’m an experienced fuck up” argument is exactly what kept Blankenfeld, Dimon, and the incredible revolving Geithner in place after the colossal boondoggle of ’08.

    …speaking of bad men…and I include Schillary in that group along with Albright and Thatcher. 😛

  23. S Brennan

    I think it’s important when discussing evil persons whether their “evil doings” was in reaction to an evil perpetrated by others? In other words, who was the proximate agency that promoted the evil in the first place. Splitting hairs? I don’t think so, consider:

    1] An armed man breaks into your house, you recognize him, he’s the same man who broke in, shot & killed your father a year ago, you shoot him without warning.

    2] A man is walking down the street, he looks like the same man who broke into your cousins house twenty years ago, you shoot him without warning.

    One is justified homicide, the other, murder and this distinction applies to all things:

    “I believe in the brotherhood of all men, but I don’t believe in wasting brotherhood on anyone who doesn’t want to practice it with me. Brotherhood is a two-way street.” – Malcom X

    If I & others took arms and money from a foreign country and started killing civilians I’d expect to be tortured and killed. That’s what happened to Chechen “rebels” who were funded by the US’s national security apparatus. Was it brutal, yes, see above examples, both are equally brutal. However, any less of a brutal force would not have resolved the matter and more lives would be lost. In this regard, Putin is less sinful than say; Abraham Lincoln, who faced a similar dilemma.

  24. Hugh

    Ian, sure, if it isn’t too late.

  25. Hugh

    Yeltsin, a Russian nationalist, broke up the USSR because ethnic Great Russians were at the point of passing from the majority into a plurality. Yeltsin was also a corrupt drunk. So the rise of the Russian oligarchs was pretty much baked in. What made it so much worse was that it was basically American policy from Bush Sr. onwards to so deconstruct Russia that it would never again pose a strategic threat to the US or Western Europe. There were numerous points where the US could have eased the transition of Russia economically and from a Cold War adversary into a partner. But wherever possible, the opposite of this was done. The result was a sharp decline in Russian population and a state so dysfunctional it could not suppress a separatist rebellion in a relatively minor region, Chechnya.

    Enter Putin. He was able to rein in the oligarchs sufficiently to shore up the government and suppress (brutally) the Chenchen rebellion. He was also able to make deals with the dictators of the former Asian SSRs advantageous to Russia and which afforded these dictators some extra security. He was able to do this largely on the basis of Russia being a big commodities producer (oil and natural gas) and controlling the gas pipelines from the former Central Asian SSRs. High commodity prices gave him scope to act, but his window of opportunity is limited. Commodity prices, especially oil, fell precipitously and are only now making a tepid recovery. Russia is also one of the few countries (Germany and Poland) in the world whose population is falling. As Russia’s population falls and as much of its current wealth continues to be siphoned off by the oligarchs, the ability of Putin or really any Russian leader, to project power beyond Russia’s immediate borders will continue to decrease. Putin’s Syrian adventure was actually quite limited in scope: a short use of power and a quick exit. Nor has he been able to force a solution on a weak and hopelessly corrupt Ukrainian government. The truth is if Putin was able to do something big like reabsorb the Ukraine, he would have already done it. And while aspirationally he might want to reconstitute the old USSR. The demographics are even worse now than they were when Yeltsin broke it up.

  26. Ian Welsh


    I’ll put it up after the Thiel piece has had some time. Thank you.

  27. Jeff W

    My recollection of Clinton’s 2002 Iraq vote (and that of many of the other Democrats who voted the same way) is that the vote was not one of bad judgment (although it was that) but one of pure political expediency. In the case of that vote she and the other Democrats simply did not want to risk appearing “weak” in the upcoming midterms (which would be a month away) and certainly not in the presidential election two years away. It’s exactly the same as her shifting stances on same sex marriage, gun control, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and a host of other issues. “Bad judgment” is her preferred frame. That she doubles down and persists means (to me) only that she does not want to be accused of what she is actually doing—acting expediently.

    I might, in fact, prefer if she were acting on the basis of actual judgment on the merits, however bad that judgment might be, rather than saying or voting in line with whatever she thinks will get her (re-)elected, not alienate her constituents (i.e., her funders) or insulate her from attack—it might improve her track record.

  28. malcontent

    I’d like to know this community’s read on our current democratic primary with regard to party’s obvious disowning of Bernie who has an inspired long game strategy creating a new generation of voter support.

    As Hugh said “With the Clintons, it is always about the benjamins” and the unrelenting sense of betrayal Hillary emits is palpable to any thinking human.

    Is the real story that this the flipping point where Democrats steal the Republicans’ cash machine and become the preferred party of the robber barons?

    The Republicans seem to have lost their grip on their flock of rabble voters as it has been stolen by an ironically appropriate maverick from the robber baron class to compete against the chosen servant which helps set the table for the flip too.

    Will the Democrats become right wing enough by November to overcome the manufactured cognitive dissonance of our national politics as seen by the average American voter?

    Or perhaps I’m just airing my paranoia and disgust with this ugly process in a publicly humiliating way as a coping mechanism…

  29. Hugh

    JeffW, the AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force) on Iraq passed the House on October 10, 2002 on a vote of 296 for and 133 against. Of those 133 nays, 126 were cast by Democrats, 6 by Republicans, and one by the independent and then Representative Bernie Sanders. The next day on October 11, the joint resolution passed in the Senate 77-23. Those voting against included 22 Democrats and 1 Republican. Here is the list:

    Akaka (D-HI)
    Bingaman (D-NM)
    Boxer (D-CA)
    Byrd (D-WV)
    Chafee (R-RI)
    Conrad (D-ND)
    Corzine (D-NJ)
    Dayton (D-MN)
    Durbin (D-IL)
    Feingold (D-WI)
    Graham (D-FL)
    Inouye (D-HI)
    Jeffords (I-VT)
    Kennedy (D-MA)
    Leahy (D-VT)
    Levin (D-MI)
    Mikulski (D-MD)
    Murray (D-WA)
    Reed (D-RI)
    Sarbanes (D-MD)
    Stabenow (D-MI)
    Wellstone (D-MN)
    Wyden (D-OR)

    If Dick (Never Stick His Neck Out) Durbin and Carl (Senate Armed Services Committee) Levin could vote against the Iraq AUMF, then Hillary Clinton certainly could have as well. Expediency could have a playeda part in some votes. But in the case of Hillary Clinton, she was not up for re-election (unlike Carl Levin) for another 4 years. She may well have already been angling for a Presidential run in 2008. I think, she voted for the war to show she was as hawkish as the Republicans because, as her subsequent record proved, she was as hawkish as the Republicans. Just like many of them never met a war they didn’t like, neither has Hillary Clinton.

  30. Hugh

    Sorry, I should have said 21 Democrats, 1 Republican, and 1 independent voted against the AUMF on Iraq in the Senate.

  31. Hugh

    A couple further notes, the Democrats controlled the Senate 51-49 from May 24, 2001 to January 3, 2003, that is during the Iraq war vote, (after Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) left the Republican Party and became an independent caucasing with the Democrats). So this was not a case of the Republicans forcing the war down the throat of helpless Democrats. 29 Democratic Senators voted for the war, including Hillary Clinton, and 21 opposed.

    Also in the House, I should have pointed out that the majority of Democrats voted against the war: 81 for versus 126 opposed.

    So expediency for most Democrats was not an issue. They voted no on an issue, in an election year, where a no vote had a real cost. Clinton voted for the war because she supported the war, and even though her vote undercut many Democrats.

    Not sure if these links work, but here they are:



  32. Montanamaven

    As I recall, both Edwards and Kerry probably voted for the war because they were going for the presidency. I was a volunteer for Edwards and scuttlebutt was that Elizabeth wanted him to vote “No”, but advisors told him to vote “Yay”.
    I recently had two close friends both give me the old tired meme (thought stopper by Archdruid) , “Oh, I think she voted for the war to look hawkish and tough as a woman.”
    “Baloney,” I said, “This is the woman who learned at the feet of M. Albright who said that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under five was “worth it” and “what’s the use of having a military if you can’t use it.” This is the woman who even after the Iraq debacle, pushed the Libyan debacle and cackled about Ghadafi being sodomized with a knife. “We came, We Saw, He died!” Thanks, Little Caesar. She’s itching to further escalate WWIII with Russia. She’s Margaret Thatcher on steroids.”
    Honduras, Libya, Egypt, Ukraine, Syria…It’s not bad judgement when you do it over and over and over. Rather it’s because you believe in regime change under the guise of “humanitarian interventionism” which I call just another phrase for “let’s just steal their stuff”.
    Russia has traditionally been a trading nation as it is vast and had the Silk Road beneath it. I like the idea of trading with countries rather than what we do. We invade them and steal their stuff or we back coups and put our friends in so they can steal the stuff.

  33. Jeff W

    Hugh, I’ll respond here where my earlier comment and your responses are, rather than on the later post.

    I think we’re agreeing on the basic point.

    Hillary Clinton, like her Republican colleagues, is a war hawk.

    Her statement, that she made the best decision she could, in good faith, with the information she had, means to me (and, I think to you) that she is saying she considered something other than the mere opportunity to wage war and that something had to do with the merits of the war.

    My comment was saying “Well, if she considered anything, it was considerations as to political expediency.” I wasn’t negating your premise, with which I agree; I was negating hers.

    Clinton’s whole formulation as to her prior bad decisions is that she’s “learned” and that she will now make better decisions on the merits. But she hasn’t and she can’t. Her basic premises (e.g., neoconservativism, neoliberalism) are wrong; her considerations (e.g., money—“benjamins” as you say, “winning”, rather than actually helping people who vote for her) are directed at the wrong ends; and, yet, she just insists that (merely) her “judgment” is wrong. That’s like a hirudotherapist of the 19th century who uses medicinal leeches to “balance the humours” and for whom money, not the welfare of the patient, is first and foremost, saying, after hundreds of patients have died under (or maybe because of) his care, saying “I made the best decision I could with the information I had. But I’ve learned.” (If anything, that comparison is unfair to the 19th-century hirudotherapists who probably did help some patients in some circumstances.)

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