“I will use whatever position I have in order to root out hypocrisy,” declared a steel-jawed Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean not too long ago on Meet the Press.
This was the culmination of a mounting obsession on the Left with hypocrisy. Now, of course, objections to hypocrisy go back to the bible and a good bit further back than that. And the Left in particular has been upset about hypocrisy since the Freudian Marxists of the Frankfurt School convinced an entire generation of intellectuals that internal contradictions were a sign of bourgeois something-or-other.
But the fixation with hypocrisy has really intensified in recent years. The flap over Bill Bennett’s gambling, Rush Limbaugh’s drug hassles, and the prominence of the religious right–which most left-wingers consider to be a de facto hypocritical phenomenon–have all contributed to the trend.
Indeed, offense at hypocrisy has become a warrant to be a bit of a jerk. At a fundraiser, Dean even did an impersonation of Limbaugh snorting coke. When asked for a prediction by NBC’s Chris Matthews, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times snarked, “I’ll predict that the rapture is coming, and you and I, Chris, are going up, and all these hypocritical conservatives who tell people not to do stuff that then they get caught doing are not.”
Now, I’ve written thousands of words on why I don’t think hypocrisy is the worst sin imaginable. There’s not a good parent in the world who hasn’t felt like a hypocrite at one point or another with their kids. Telling your kids not to do certain bad or unwise things you did when you were a kid may feel hypocritical, but telling your children it’s O.K. to do wrong out of some craving to be hip or to assuage your own conscience is the most asinine form of vanity I can imagine. Similarly, it’s certainly wrong to do drugs, but does giving in to your addiction mean you should also advocate doing drugs for everybody? During the run-up to the Iraq war, how many times did we hear that it was hypocritical for the United States to topple Saddam since we’d worked with him in the 1980s? The upshot seemed to be that it is better to do wrong consistently than do right inconsistently.
All of that said, there’s something just plain fun in pointing out hypocrisy. Years ago, when William F. Buckley was asked by Playboy why he took such delight in liberal hypocrisy he responded (I’m quoting from memory), “Who doesn’t take delight in things that are delightful?”
Which finally brings me to the point of this column. There’s a delightful new book out called Do As I Say (Not As I Do), by Peter Schweizer. And what makes it particularly delightful is that it goes after the anti-hypocrisy jihadists. I may not be obsessed with “rooting out hypocrisy” from American life. But who among us can’t have some fun watching the leading anti-hypocrisy crusaders exposed for betraying their core values?
Michael Moore, the biggest mouthpiece of the anti-hypocrite Left, constantly denounces Republicans as racists for opposing affirmative action. Schweizer reports that Moore almost never hires black people. Moore insists, “I don’t own a single share of stock.” He denounces clever Enron style schemes to conceal wealth and rails against Haliburton as the Mother of All Evils. He told C-Span’s Brian Lamb in his best prolier-than-thou voice that he wanted nothing to do with the stock market. “That’s the rich man’s game.”
Well, it turns out Moore’s got another game going. As Schweizer reports, Moore told the IRS his home is the headquarters of his tax-free foundation, to which he contributes some of his millions for the write-off. The foundation, in turn, not only bought stock–its holdings are a Who’s Who of “greedy” corporations, including Halliburton.
Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, accepted the Cesar Chavez Award from the United Farm Workers Union in 2003. She constantly spouts about the imperative of hiring union labor. But she contracts out the grape-picking on her own vineyard to non-UFW firms. She’s also a part owner of some restaurants and a hotel. No union labor there, either.
MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, who regularly denounces the Pentagon as a “fascist institution” and has mounted a campaign to expel ROTC from his school, has garnered millions in grants from the Pentagon for his linguistics research.
And so on.
Now, none of this means that the lions of the Left are wrong when they say what they say. I grew up in a rent-controlled apartment, but that doesn’t mean I’m wrong that rent-control is idiotic. If Howard Dean has really decided to root out hypocrisy anywhere he finds it, he should pick up this book and get to work putting his own house in order.
–(c) 2005 Tribune Media Services