Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hypocrisy on the grill

I disagree with Ed's Sunday column, although not by much. I'm not persuaded that Larry Craig is a hypocrite. He probably really does believe in family values, traditional marriage and the evils of homosexuality. The fact that he personally is unable to uphold those values doesn't make him a hypocrite, just weak. As are we all.

Of course, that doesn't make it any less annoying that he is willing to use the law to create conditions that cause people like him to break the law. But again, I suspect that is weakness rather than hypocrisy. When his defense is, "I don't do these kinds of things" rather than "I didn't do this thing," he is juxtaposing his view of what he thinks he should be against what he really is. That can be an ugly look in the mirror.


Ed said...

I don't know about that, David. Here is one of Mr. Webster's definitions of "hypocrite": "a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings."

That is exactly the sense in which I used the word.

Anonymous said...

For me it is not a question of whether Craig is or is not a hypocrite. Either way, I just laugh. This is what happens when a political party makes such conduct an issue under the "family values" banner. No party (or group of people) has the right to try to take the moral high ground. Those who try to be "holier than thou" deserve to fall.

David said...

So who are you going to believe, me or your lying dictionary?

OK, I won't argue that Craig's actions don't fit under the general rubric of hypocrisy. But the sort of hypocrisy that results from human weakness strikes me as far less -- well, hypocritical -- than the deliberate and cynical hypocrisy of political opportunism. For example, on delivery day last week I listened to Sean Hannity bend over so far backwards to let off Craig off the hook that the back of his head touched his heels. It's a break he wouldn't give to a Democrat in a million years, but he will turn right around and preach about how intellectually honest he is and how he places conservative values above party.

That's the real hypocrisy.

Matt Singer said...

Has Sean Hannity ever claimed to be intellectually honest?

My own feeling on hypocrisy is that it is hardly the worst charge of which one can be accused. Promoting moral lives (although I don't think Craig's "family values" were a good description of that) is a good thing, even if we sometimes fail to hit the mark ourselves.

The distinction primarily is whether it is good faith hypocrisy, the sort suffered by having the weakness of being human, or bad faith hypocrisy, engaged in because you simply don't care.

David said...

Yes, he has. Hard to believe, I know, but I heard it with my own ears on several occasions.

Anonymous said...


In the spirit if discussion, tell us your general rubric of hypocrisy.

David said...

Anonymous 1130,
That would be the broad definition quoted by Ed. But I find the distinction that Matt makes more useful.

Anonymous said...

I think Craig is a special case, as he apparently is confronted with his own homosexuality and is in denial. Toss hypocrisy aside, and simply have some compassion for a man in an untenable position. Neither party is showing any sympathy for him. A pox on both their houses.

Anonymous said...

If there is anything good to come out of this 'news' it is that the GOP made sure he'll be out of politics now. It's funny how the Dems never take care of problems like this. (William Jefferson for example)

Anonymous said...

It is now Tuesday evening, and I see that Larry Craig is going to reconsider resigning from the Senate. This is the best news I seen in some time. We can now have weeks and maybe even months discussing Larry and his "wide stance." Looks like Eric might be wrong--the GOP may not have made sure that Larry is out of politics. Frankly, I want him in.

Montana Headlines said...

I'm beginning to wonder if I really even know what hypocrisy is anymore, after all of the e-ink that has been spilled on the subject across the blogosphere.

Maybe I just won't use the word anymore.

One thing that I did read (can't remember where) that rang true was something to the effect that "a certain amount of hypocrisy is necessary to a well-ordered society."

In other words, would we really want a society where the rules of engagement were restricted to those actually kept strictly by all politicans and other societal leaders?

There can actually be something healthy about "do as I say, not as I do."

Todd said...

Eric, your party is happy to throw one of their own under the bus if it doesn't cost 'em anything. The GOP can ill afford a scandal, nor can it afford to give up a seat.

Senator Vitter preached "family values" while visiting a whore. If your party is what you intimate it is, why does Vitter stay and Craig go?

That's easy: because Idaho has a Republican governor and Louisiana has a Democratic governor. Craig will be replaced by a Republican, but Vitter would be replaced by a Democrat.

Your party's as dishonest as you are, Eric.