Skip to comments.Some Hypocrisies Are Not Hypocrisies [Victor Davis Hanson]
Posted on 07/01/2009 5:30:29 AM PDT by Tolik
The Usual Apology
I think the standard explanation of the trashing accorded the foolish Gov. Mark Sanford (who in embarrassing fashion confessed, and confessed, and confessed to an affair with an Argentinean girlfriend) and the tsk-tsk treatment of former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards -who fathered a child with his mistress, lied about it on serial occasion while he tried to gain political mileage from his ill wife, all as he concocted an alibi that his aide, not he, had really impregnated Rielle Hunter-is that Sanford suffered from the addition wage of hypocrisy.
That is, self-proclaimed moralists like the late Henry Hyde, Newt Gingrich, Larry Craig, Mark Foley, John Ensign and other conservatives raised the sexual morality bar high on others, and then proved they could not meet it themselves-while libertine Democrats like a Bill Clinton, Barney Frank, or Jesse Jackson never claimed to judge others sexual mores. Therefore their behavior is not at odds with their rhetoric. So despite their public status, the sin in their case remains more a private manner.
But there are some problems with this facile analysis. While it is true that Americans seem to detest hypocrisy more than sin, there is something more to this strange unevenness in attitudes toward conservative and liberal transgression. Feminists have long argued that serial womanizing is a sort of moral cheapening of their gender. The supposed male power broker uses rank, money, and privilege to sexually exploit the vulnerable, gullible, younger (fill in the blanks) female. A lot of Foucouldian gibberish is thrown in about power and control-as in mandarin males exploiting victimized female subordinates.
So why then do professed feminists largely ignore an Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton or Ted Kennedy, who did not suffer an addition wage of hypocrisy? Monicagate, after all, was a classic feminist cause célèbre: Monica was younger, supposedly naïve, a subordinate, without power and a voice, a victim drawn into an asymmetrical relationship with her boss, who used his superior position to cajole the younger woman into exploitive sexual services. But, of course, feminists were largely quiet-although not entirely quiet as many prominent commentators trashed Monica, as they had Paula Jones, as they had Clintons harem, as a sort of trashy vixen, whose sluttishness (see David Letterman on such usage) endangered the political capital of a feminist supporter of everything from abortion to gay rights.
Another exegesis goes something like this: Well, you conservatives suffer the additional wage of hypocrisy on matters sexual since you yourselves are so moralistic; while we liberals get hit hard on matters of high living and privilege given our professed egalitarianism. So it evens out. But is that second half of the equation true?
Taxes for Thee, not Me
I dont think so. Very few in the media ran with the Timothy Geithner mess. The problem was not just that he took quite embarrassing unlawful deductions, but actually pocketed the very FICA allowances provided him by the IMF to address his exposure to self-employment payroll taxes.
In addition, Geithner was to oversee, as Treasury Secretary, the Internal Revenue Service, which, given its limited resources, must rely on the goodwill and honest voluntary compliance of the American tax payer. Furthermore, Geithner was part of a new administration whose trademark theme was that an under-taxed elite, in near unpatriotic and greedy fashion, had made out like bandits in the Bush years. Thus, those over the sinister $250,000 threshold owed the rest of us overdue money as a sort of financial penance. I could ditto the cases of Daschle, Solis, and Richardson as well, but leave you with Charles Rangel and Chris Dodd- champions of the people and enemies of privilege, who in the most tawdry fashion sold influence for things like lower interest on loans and possible gifts to their eponymous centers.
But perhaps the most glaring example is the strange case of former Senator and Vice President Al Gore. He was canonized with various awards including, but not limited to the Nobel Prize, on the basis that his disinterested global campaign to raise concern about global warming had given us all an eleventh hour reprieve from ruining the planet.
Remember the Gore themes: we are destroying the planet by gratuitous use of fossil fuels. Each of us must know his own carbon footprint, and adjust accordingly. But then we learned, in addition to the movies and books, Gore had created a carbon-exchange company, a modern version of medieval penance, in which for a fee Gores people would evaluate ones environmental sins, and suggest how one could get right with the gods of the environment.
And on and on it went until in just a few years Gores net worth went from $2 million to nearly $100 million. But the additional rub was that Gore lived in an energy-gobbling big house, flew in carbon-polluting private jets, and seemed to benefit financially from the very policies he was lobbying governments to embrace. None of these facts had any effect on the media, the Nobel Prize committees, or his general public stature. Today he remains a liberal icon, not a hypocrite who seemed to live the carbon high-life he demonized so publicly.
So, then, what accounts for the hypocrisies?
Is there some generic, overarching explanation that accounts for the lopsided allocation of hypocrisy?
I think we must go back to the nature of the liberal, egalitarian mind that professes the greater care for the welfare of the commons. In contrast, the conservative, the Republican, the libertarian, in dog-eat-dog fashion believes that life is sort of a free-for-all, and to the victor goes the spoils. The latter are less sensitive, less caring, more goal orientated, more selfish; the former are mellower, more sharing, and pit the power of ideas, morality, and fairness against the overwhelming power of money and influence.
Presto-the beleaguered, more moral liberal must be given greater leeway, employ sometimes questionable means, since his ends are the more exalted. Yes, Al Gore gets to fly private, and have a few extra rooms in his mansion, but he is sacrificing on the planets behalf, and needs a more ample footprint than the rest of us to save us from ourselves. Who cares if George Bushs Texas ranch house has a lighter footprint than Gores mansion, given that Bush thwarted Kyoto and Gore promoted it? Yes, Timothy Geithner skipped a few thousands in taxes, but who wouldnt if you were trying to reformulate an entire tax code to level the playing field? Yes, Bill slipped up with Monica, but Monicas come and go-a womans right to chose simply cannot. Yes, Eliot Spitzer had a bothersome desire for young prostitutes, but he was a crusader against Wall Street greed. And yes, the previously mentioned John Edwards was campaigning to the left of Clinton and Obama, and thus his problems deserved some sort gestation, given his voice on the behalf of the poor.
In contrast, Mark Sanford would cut needed entitlements, let the wealthy off, hurt gays and harm a womans right to choose, and, thank god, his self-interested morality drew in a well-earned nemesis.
Ends and Means
I am not suggesting that liberal adulterers are not ostracized or Democratic tax cheats are not condemned, but rather not to the same degree, given their egalitarian fides, as others. Charles Rangels financial ethics seem comparable to those of Tom DeLays, but not their respective fates. John Murtha, I think, will prove not that much cleaner than Duke Cunningham.
We see the same phenomenon in matters of war and peace: Iraq under Bush devolved into a hopeless quagmire, given the strutting Texans bellicosity; Iraq under Obama has blossomed as a bright light of democracy in the Middle East, given Obamas concern for global humanity. Renditions, tribunals, wiretaps, intercepts, and Predator attacks are either assaults on the Constitution or tragically necessary protocols to keep us safe-depending on the mentality of those who administer them.
Public speech is the same: Imagine the following what ifs: A Justice Alito: I do not think a Latina can be as wise a judge as a good old fashioned white male. John McCain: The people of inner-Chicago cling to their churches, pack their handguns, and are xenophobic to the Latino population. Don Imuss slur that cost him his job is not synonymous with David Lettermans slur about an underage Palin girl being raped in a baseball dugout that cost Letterman nothing.
At the extremes we always rightly deplore the murderous fascist like Franco or Pinochet, but cannot quite admit that peasant-clad Mao was the largest mass-murderer of the 20th century, or that over his long career a Castro killed and jailed more than was true in Pinochets Chile.
The difference between a Nixon and Reagan was that Nixon was obsessed by the asymmetry, and in near paranoid fashion thought the Kennedys, the New York Times, the universities, all applied standards to himself that they did not to themselves. And this was so unfair! Reagan accepted it, laughed it off, and went forward.
Not long ago a friend flashed a bit of Palin derangement syndrome. I thought it was sort of silly and smiled. But, finally, to stop the rant, meekly I suggested At least I bet she knows there was not TV in 1929 and that Hoover, not FDR, was president. At that jab, the person, veins bulging, flushed and flashed, Youre sick if you cant see Biden has more brains in his little finger than that Palin. Biden, you see, cares and so make chronic slips in a busy schedule to help the helpless; Palin is an ignoramus that show her ignorance hourly, given that shes a supposed right wing nut that kills animals and visits trailer parks.
Just a partial list. More at the link: http://www.freerepublic.com/tag/victordavishanson/index
Thoughts on a Schizophrenic Society Obama and the Noble Lie Sorta Sums It All Up. Ahmadinejad Reacting to Obama's comment Thuggery 101. Mr. President, do not talk to a thug unless you absolutely have to Weve All Metamorphosized to a Higher Plain [satire] "This Is the Moment"? Why Obama Should at Last Speak Out on Iran What Do these First Six Months Mean? Where Are We Going? The New Orwellianism Obamas New Liberal Realism: abandoned Wilsonianism just to avoid supporting Iranian democracy Obamaworld Voting Present on Iran. Thugophilia Isn't Moral. The New Old Realism Reflections on the Iranian Enigma. The World Turned Upside Down Still a Boor and a Coward [Victor Davis Hanson on Letterman, Wright + Thoughts on a Creepy Culture] Just Make Stuff Up. President Obamas war on the truth A Boor and a Coward [Victor Davis Hanson tears apart the creep, a.k.a David Letterman] Our Historically Challenged President. A list of distortions I No Longer Quite Believe ... [Victor Davis Hanson on Orwellian media & science, race relations] It's Better When You Wake Up Body-Snatched . . . The Reckoning. Obama Versus the Way of the Universe The Age of Middle East Atonement. Therapeutic efforts to disguise the truth never really work Is It Going to Be Race and Resentment All the Time? Sotomayors Mistake. The diversity mess The Affirmative-Action Aristocracy? Lost in the Labyrinth of Race President Palins First 100 Days. Imagine if Sarah Palin had Obamas record Americans Want It Both Ways Our Have-It-Both-Ways Generation Our Jekyll and Hyde President. More radical than Jimmy Carter v smoother centrist than Bill Clinton? Crazy Times Crazier Times to Follow - when nonsense is passed off as wisdom Confessions of a Contrarian [deconstructing Obama, the Left and more] President Obamas First 70 Days. It really does all make sense Thoughts About Depressed Americans Bush Did It. What a difference an election makes [Brilliant Parody] Our Battered American [gets angrier - Must Read Rant]
Let me know if you want in or out.
Links: FR Index of his articles: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/keyword?k=victordavishanson
His website: http://victorhanson.com/
NRO archive: http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson-archive.asp
Great article. He nails it.
If you support liberal companies - the MSM - or their charities, you are helping the people who hate us.
He nails several points; it all stems from the inconsistency of liberal doublethink.
Does anybody on this thread remember the term that was used to describe the offered entertainment in the book 1984?
It is very interesting that Conservatives religiously believe in creation and that we are all created equal in God’s image but in business we practice servival of the fittest and evolution and should be unequal but that this system generally helps everybody become better off. See capitalist countries like US, UK, Canada, Japan, etc.
Liberals religiously do not believe in creation but believe in evolution and servival of the fittest but in business everybody should be equal and the weak should be helped to servive like everybody else. Yet they think that they should be in charge of the equal masses which makes them, the ruling class, rich and everybody else poor. This system generally causes starvation, suffering, and mass murder. See socialist countries Cuba, China, Russia, Nazi Germany, North Korea, etc.
“...in business we practice servival of the fittest and evolution and should be unequal but that this system generally helps everybody become better off. See capitalist countries like US, UK, Canada, Japan, etc”
Agree with the second part, disagree with the negative look at first one. It requires clarification.
Two different worldviews understand equality differently. One, millennium old, but in modern politics taking roots from the French revolution, understands equality as equality of the result. Bolshevik revolution, for example, had “No more rich people” as one of the driving ideas. As the latest debate on New Haven firefighters case shown, a large part of our society understands equality same way: as equality of result. But the traditional American understanding of equality is/was equality under the law - equality of opportunity. What you do with it, it’s a different story and your personal responsibility.
2. Survival of the fittest.
Who decides what ideas and business models are better? A central commander, a bureaucrat, a czar? Market embodies a distributed and accumulated wisdom of millions to reward good ideas, good management, lucky timing and discard bad ideas, bad management, and yes, bad timing. As you know, the history showed that the market is more efficient in doing this (not perfect, but more efficient).
Besides, who am I to say that the creator did not create this mechanism? :^))
And to answer your question, I think that socialists (at least the smart ones) do understand the mechanisms, its just they are arrogant enough to think that they can exert a better control.
Wasn’t that called “2 minute’s hate”?
It’s been a while since I read the book...
Orwell had all sorts of fun with this nonsense in Animal Farm. He saw it in action within his former set of supposedly egalatarian socialists who turned out to be just as arrogant and oppressive as the aristocracy they ostensibly replaced; worse, actually, since within that aristocracy there were at least the restraints of tradition, however imperfectly observed.
This double standard is seemingly inseparable from what Marxists term class consciousness; it is, in fact, tribalism under another name, not socially progressive at all, but, in fact, profoundly regressive. All we're really hearing is a form of "four legs good, two legs bad."
Thanks for the clarifications. I didn’t mean to make it a negative.
Obviously as conservatives we believe that our world view is better and that people are better off under capitalism
Liberals, socialists, and communists believe that they themselves are better off under communism or socialism.
Thank you for some excellent analysis.
Even shorter version: it’s about power. Liberals want power more than anything. We want liberty. Hard to reconcile the two, it is.
Dems want the power to put a boot on our necks. We want the power to keep the boot off our necks.
Yup, Billzo made it a law you had to do something he wasn't willing to do.
If I were a Leftwingtard I'd say he should have been taken out and brutally punished for that. If I were a Moslem I'd say "kill the hypocrites" and let the scimtar fall where it may on his neck.
Alas, I'm a Conservative so I have to say "People, just get over it. Democrats are liars and thieves. That's all anyone needs to know."