Thursday, July 12, 2007

It's the hypocrisy, stupid

A group blog I recently added to my blogroll, Buck Naked Politics, has a lengthy and thoughtful post on the Vitter scandal, noting that it's the hypocrisy, not the act, that people criticize the most.

A taste:

I don't actually care what people get up to in the privacy of their own marriages or elsewhere with one or more consenting adults, and am prepared to feel sympathetic if they overstep, get caught out, and suffer public humiliation.

But when someone tries to impose religious and ethical values on me by writing them into law, they should expect me to assume that they at least have those values themselves.

The moment for David Vitter to stop pushing his religious/marriage agenda was the moment, whenever it was, that he himself acted in a manner that violated the sanctity of marriage, an institution he claims to consider sacred.

One reason people were willing to forgive Bill Clinton for his Oval Office assignation is that he never tried to lecture others about sex and infidelity. That didn't make his infidelity okay, but it meant he wasn't a hypocrite. And it helped that he compartmentalized well: his private failings didn't seem to have much effect on his ability to execute his public duties.

Many social conservatives actually live their values. But a distressing number of them publicly profess one thing while living another. Another (small-bore) example emerged yesterday: The arrest of Florida State Rep. Bob Allen (and state co-chairman for the McCain campaign) for soliciting a sex act from a male undercover officer. Allen received an "A" from the Christian Coalition in 2005-06, based in part on votes in favor of interfering in the Schiavo case and making "In God we Trust" the state motto.

Anyway, give the link a read.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's kind of like saying...."No one should go to church, because unless you're 100% in the morals department, you're a hypocrite for being there." And so---the fact that Democrat leaders don't even TRY to stress the importance of what most of us fail at, they get a pass on their behavior? Yeah, that would be the safest way to go allright: just don't ever discuss your religious beliefs or morals. That way, you can go on doing what you do and if you get caught you won't be referred to as a dreaded hypocrite!

JP5

7/12/2007 3:34 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

That's kind of like saying...."No one should go to church, because unless you're 100% in the morals department, you're a hypocrite for being there."

Not if you acknowledge your human failings and don't try to force others to conform to ideals you yourself fall short on.

Humility goes a long way toward avoiding hypocrisy.

7/12/2007 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, who said Vitter wasn't humble? What makes you judge him and declare that he was "forcing" others to conform to Ideals he fell short on. Where's your proof?

JP5

7/12/2007 8:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you about Vitter. However, I do see hypocrisy in Bill Clinton. He may not have lectured people about sex directly, but he was a professed supporter of equality and women's rights.

Yet he treated women in a way that goes against all of that. Strangely, feminist groups didn't seem upset about his actions; they seemed willing to put up with his behavior because he was on "their" side. The same way we now see conservatives trying to defend Vitter.

7/13/2007 8:09 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

I do see hypocrisy in Bill Clinton. He may not have lectured people about sex directly, but he was a professed supporter of equality and women's rights.

Yet he treated women in a way that goes against all of that.


A fair point, although professionally Clinton actually walked the walk. Take the worst example: the Paula Jones case. If everything she said was true, his behavior in their initial encounter was atrocious. But after she said "no" there was no retaliation or follow-up attempts. He was a pig, but he knew no meant no.

There's a second, softer form of hypocrisy, too, such as when a strong supporter of gay rights gets a pass for uttering an anti-gay slur. But that's less hypocrisy than the benefit of the doubt: no one thinks he really meant it.

7/13/2007 10:09 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

So, who said Vitter wasn't humble? What makes you judge him and declare that he was "forcing" others to conform to Ideals he fell short on. Where's your proof?

There's "falling short", and then there's campaigning on family values and the importance of marriage while actively undermining your own. I have every sympathy for Vitter as one who fell short; I have no sympathy for his continuing to tell the rest of us how to behave when his own house was in such disorder -- and for railing against gay marriage as the biggest threat to marriage when he was actually demonstrating what the biggest threat is.

Not to mention that during Clinton's impeachment, he suggested that Clinton was "morally unfit to govern."

7/13/2007 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Yeah, that would be the safest way to go allright: just don't ever discuss your religious beliefs or morals.”

Fine, discussion of beliefs and morals it is:

-“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:20)

-"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." (Mahatma Gandhi)

-“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.”( Matthew 23:25-26)

By your logic, the KKK was a good organization. Not because of their actions, but because they openly discussed their “religion” and “morals”.

A politician hypocritically stroking the self-righteous does not make the world a better place. All it does is get Republicans elected.

7/15/2007 11:49 AM  
Anonymous judyinnm said...

Engaging prostitutes is a crime. Senator Vitter maybe should be petitioning georgejr for a pardon -or has he already received one in secret? Is that what he meant when he said "god" had forgiven him?

7/17/2007 1:44 PM  

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