Web site claims to measure political integrity
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The term "political integrity" may seem oxymoronic this political season.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton remembered her plane landing in Bosnia under sniper fire. Sen. Barack Obama said presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain suggested the war in Iraq would go on for 100 years. Mr. McCain said Mr. Obama suggested bombing Pakistan.
None of these claims is true. There was no sniper fire. Mr. McCain said there could continue to be a U.S. military presence in Iraq -- not unlike the current U.S. military presence in Japan, South Korea or Germany -- for 100 years, but not war. Mr. Obama said he wouldn't hesitate to act against terrorists in Pakistan, but he didn't say he would simply bomb Pakistan.
Amid all the misrepresentations and distortions, where does the truth lie and who is to be believed?
Psychologist David Gruder has devised the online Politician Integrity Rating Tool (PIRT) at www.TheNewIQ.com/pirt where people can rate the candidates' integrity. It's free but requires registration to submit a rating.
Integrity has become a political catchphrase, with candidates paying for advice on how to package themselves and appear to be the candidate of integrity, he says.
"When something as important as integrity is being subjected to spin doctoring, that means the public and media really need education in what integrity truly involves so they can separate spin from fact," said Dr. Gruder, author of the book, "The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World."
"That's what prompted me to create the tool," he said.
The PIRT asks people to rate candidates in 10 areas: authenticity, accountability, life balance, teachability, vision, problem solving, fiscal responsibility, stewardship, synergy and communication.
Respondents can assess each candidate only once and also are asked to rate their own familiarity with the candidate and objectivity in rating the candidate.
Currently, Mr. Obama's PIRT score is 71 and Mrs. Clinton's PIRT score is 49, with both scores based on eight respondents. Mr. McCain's PIRT score is 53, based on five respondents.
"Even the candidate who is receiving the highest integrity ratings is woefully low in integrity ratings," says Dr. Gruder, executive director of Willingness Works in Del Mar, Calif. "Candidates tend to talk about their own integrity while trying to point out lack of integrity in the other candidate."
That's not real integrity, he says. His definition of integrity includes the drive for personal authenticity, the drive for connection with others and the drive to have positive impact in the world.
"I have integrity when I am making choices that reflect my own true self, that preserve rather than damage my relationships with others and serve the highest collective good, simultaneously," he said.
Democratic candidates focus on collective highest good while the Republicans tend to focus on individual rights, freedom and responsibility, he said.
Seven core life skills -- teachability, self care, discernment, utilizing life experience, utilizing personal strengths, synergy and stewardship -- determine how much self integrity, relationship integrity, societal integrity, leadership integrity and political integrity someone possesses.
"Politician integrity requires living at the intersection of self integrity, relationship integrity and societal integrity," he says in his IntegrityWatch blog.
Dr. Gruder believes the best way for politicians to deal with political blunders -- whether imagining sniper fire, reacting to a pastor's controversial remarks or linking al-Qaida with Iran -- is to turn those gaffs into teachable moments.
In his IntegrityWatch blog, Dr. Gruder gave Mr. Obama an Integrity Inspiration Award for the March 18 speech on race, an example of the candidate turning the Rev. Jeremiah Wright controversy into a teachable moment.
"A politician who becomes really good at that will win the hearts of the American people no matter which political party they're in."
First Published April 8, 2008 12:00 am