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The Politics of Hypocrisy

Three different items today, all about hypocrisy.

It’s one thing to change your mind. I respect it. We’ve all changed our mind at some point. Maybe it’s because of personal experience, or a compelling argument, or learning new facts. Whatever the reason, I respect the evolution of personal opinion.

But what about taking a position just for expediency? In this case, I’m not talking about taking a position just to be well-liked. I’m talking about taking a position so that you can score points/defend the candidate of your choice, facts be damned. I’m talking about looking at some characteristic of a candidate, and then supporting or condemning it, simply because you like or dislike the candidate.

That’s the stuff that I find so appalling. I can’t stand the thoughtless, useless attack for the sake of the attack. If you don’t like a candidate, if you have a problem with their issues, great, I invite you to make your case. But if you’re just yapping because you can, then I invite you to shut up.

Jon Stewart made a montage of people yammering about “the gender card.” He has some great examples of the flip-flopping that I abhor. (hat tip to Matt).

Similar behavior, but different issue: Palin’s grandchild to be. The Globe wrote about some WRKO talk host calling out his listeners as hypocrites:

WRKO conservative talk host Reese Hopkins told listeners 17-year-old Bristol Palin‘s pregnancy makes him question VP hopeful Sarah Palin‘s parenting skills. Angry Republican listeners blew up his e-mail box, claiming Bristol’s condition is family business. And Hopkins, who talked extensively on-air about the suspicious Gloucester teen pregnancy pact, was a little shocked. “You called these girls sluts, you said their parents were horrible,” he said of his listeners. “But in 125 e-mails I have stacked in front of me, you’re telling me [Bristol Palin’s pregnancy] is not a big deal.” Hopkins went back to the e-mails he received on the Gloucester story and compared them to his Palin e-mails. He found 70 listeners who flip-flopped on the teen pregnancy issue and invited them to explain.

Good for him. Frankly, I don’t think any of us can judge any of these parents from this distance. If you judge one, judge them all – you don’t get to cherry-pick the ones you happen to like.

Last, but certainly not least, my friend Darienne weighed in on McCain’s speech at the Republican convention:

“Americans want us to stop yelling at each other, OK?” McCain smiled tonight, looking about as sincere as Steve Martin.

That he expects me to believe that after the spectacle of the past few days may be most insulting of all.

She hit the nail on the head. How can McCain put up a three-day parade of attack dogs, from Romney to Palin, and then pretend that it’s not what he wanted to happen? I guess you believe him if you want to, but I think his actions speak louder than his words.


Comment from Quantum Mechanic
Time: September 6, 2008, 9:28 pm

It’s a tired statement, but a true one: “Q: How do you tell when a politician is lying? A: When his lips are moving.”

It’ll be interesting to see how many people will be similarly disappointed in The Obamessiah when he (gasp!) doesn’t rein in Biden et al as things heat up.

Comment from dunster
Time: September 7, 2008, 9:24 am

I know I’ll be disappointed, but not totally surprised. It would be nice if Obama demanded a higher standard. Clearly McCain won’t do it.

Comment from jjfoley
Time: September 11, 2008, 9:15 am

Glad you linked that, Dan. It is so gut-wrenchingly frustrating to see that sort of double standard. Oddly enough, so far it does feel like Obama is demanding a higher standard — his mudslinging so far has only been to point out the childish tactics of the Republican campaign, turning their arrows into his ammo. (Of course, his constant reference to “the McCain-Bush years” may be just as disingenuous, but at least that can be chalked up as positioning not flipflopping.)

Comment from dunster
Time: September 13, 2008, 10:32 pm

Yeah, Foley, I agree. It feels like Obama has made some dubious claims, but McCain’s just seem outright awful. I’m at the “you should be ashamed of yourself” level with McCain, where Obama I’m just saying “that’s a stretch, and you know it.”