PB: Politics Ain’t War!

by SDM

Politics have no relation to morals.

-Niccolo Machiavelli

The great military strategist von Clausewitz wrote (SDM is paraphrasing) that war is merely an extension of policy. The quote is often misstated as politics is just war by another name. A careful reader can see that this particular misquotation might result in very tragic consequences.

The cold reality is that some treat politics as war because the two activities share many tactical similarities:

  • Politicians and generals try to force the opposition to expend resources as a means to wear-out the other side;
  • The ends often are used to justify the means in both types of conflicts; and
  • Casualties are expected and often ignored.

But politics can’t be war in a civilized society. The ends cannot justify the means and care must be taken to avoid conflating the war and politics.

The end of the Palmetto Bay COW meeting brought to light a troubling skirmish going on largely out of the public’s view. At approximately 1:34, attorney JB Harris rose during public comments to “explain” his decision to file an ethics complaint against Village Attorney Eve Boutsis.

Mr. Harris justified his public declaration by claiming that it had come to his attention that Ms. Boutsis had advised the council that the complaint had been filed against her. He went on to confirm the bar’s rule that complaints are kept confidential, especially by attorneys who are complaining against other attorneys. SDM presumes Mr. Harris to believe that once the attorney notifies her client of the existence of a complaint the confidentiality provision becomes inoperative.

Perhaps, but did Mr. Harris really need to stand up and tell the council (and by extension the world) that the complaint was filed?

SDM Aside: Apparently, he felt the need to exonerate the Vice Mayor from having taken any part in the act. SDM figures Mr. Dubois can manage his own P.R., thank you very much.

SDM Wonders: Or, was this just a back-door mechanism of publicizing the existence of the complaint so as to weaken further Ms. Boutsis? Frankly, it’s a close enough call that the Florida Bar ought to consider investigating Mr. Harris’s true motivation.

This blog has not been kind, at least lately, to Ms. Boutsis. She made a major hash of the Coral Reef Park Master Plan item and deserves to be reviewed. SDM is also completely comfortable with putting her contract out to bid, partly based on performance issues and partly because doing so is long overdue.

But SDM does not believe that Ms. Boutsis deserves to have her living placed in jeopardy. Mr. Harris’s attempt to do so looks a lot like a personal attack, rather than fair debate in the political realm.

The other disturbing news that came to light is that lots of folks are taking extra-political action (lawsuits, mostly) against various residents and council members. SDM has no way of knowing whether any of these actions are justified, but their existence begs the question of whether these actions have any relation to morals? Or are they just politics by other means?

SDM Says: When politics adopt the tactics of war, we start to look a lot more like Congress than a village.

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