About That “At Least He’s No Hypocrite” Defense
Anthony Weiner was finally forced to face the reality that accepting the consequences for ones behavior requires that there be actual consequences, so he finally stepped down. But all along the way, he was defended by a certain segment of the left which claims that it’s worse and more newsworthy when Republicans are caught in sex scandals, you see, because they constantly preach about all that family values stuff. Meanwhile, when Democrats do it, we really shouldn’t be talking about it because they keep their opinions on family values to themselves (not that this contrast is even necessarily true). But while we’ve heard that refrain in response to the latest Democrat caught with his pants down and his tweet out, so to speak, it’s certainly nothing new. It seems to pop up any time the double standard between the treatment of Republican and Democrat sex scandals becomes too obvious to ignore, as happened in this case. Yet there are two massive holes in this argument of convenience.
For one thing, such arguments typically draw no distinction between trying and failing to live up to a principle, and simply not believing at all in the principles that one preaches. The latter is hypocrisy, the former is simply being weak, otherwise known as being human. More often than not, what the left claims to be hypocrisy, such as a Republican engaging in an affair, is actually just a failing. They never really prove that the person doesn’t believe in their principles (thus is a hypocrite), so much as they failed to live up to them. Contrary to what they then conclude, this is not a strong case against having any principles or codes of behavior.
If we were to take the left’s logic to its own conclusion, it would mean that it’s more acceptable to have no principles or codes of behavior at all, because then you will never be a hypocrite. They don’t actually criticize the behavior itself, because in the world of the moral relativist, anything is permissible under the right circumstances – like when you’re a “good Congressman,” which really just means a liberal Congressman. Seemingly without any moral code or core principles, whether someone is a hypocrite or not then becomes the most important criteria by which they seem to judge a person, even when what they are criticizing is not real hypocrisy.
The second reason that this line of defense fails is because it is itself hypocritical (a meta-hypocrisy?). You see, the left never criticizes Al Gore for preaching that we must all reduce our standard of living to protect Gaia, while he lives in a giant mansion and jet-sets around the world. The left doesn’t charge tax-hikers who skimp out on their own bills, like Charlie Rangel, with hypocrisy. Again they reason, why be mad at Charlie, when at least he’s doing the good work of raising everyone else’s taxes?
Failing to hold your side to the same standard you try to hold the other? Now that’s hypocrisy.