I don’t think that there’s any doubt that Democrats are twitching with almost unseemly delight in Larry Craig’s humiliating fall from grace. Here is a man who stood for family values and was hostile to all things gay, and yet he was caught tapping his foot in a men’s room. As for me, I’d be a little dubious about basing a life destroying (for him) charge of homosexuality based on foot tapping alone were it not for the fact that there have for years been rumors that Craig was a deeply closeted homosexual.
In the wake of this story, the term that seems to be most closely linked to Craig is “hypocrite. ” Indeed, a Google search turned up 190,000 hits for the search “Larry Craig hypocrite.” Although I’m sure that not all of the 190,000 hits actually touch upon this scandal and people’s conclusions about Craig, I bet a large percentage do.
The thing is, I think it’s questionable whether Craig is, in fact, a hypocrite. A hypocrite is defined as “a person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, esp. one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.” Under that standard, we can conclude that Craig is a hypocrite only if we can prove that he gleefully touted family values in public, all the while laughingly and without guilt, living a homosexual life in private. I doubt that’s true. My suspicion is that Craig genuinely believes in the values he publicly espoused, and that he lives an anguished dark alley kind of live trying to fulfill his homosexual urges. He’s almost certainly a failure in his own eyes.
However, I can easily think of a politician who is truly a hypocrite. He’s a man who pushes one set of behaviors on the American masses, while openly and proudly living a life that is a completely betrayal of those same demands. That is, there’s no anguish here, nor sense of deep moral failing because he can’t live up to the standards he espouses. Instead, he flaunts in our faces a lifestyle he would deny to the rest of us.
I speak, of course, of John Edwards. John Edwards is the one who only recently demanded that we give up our big cars, a demand he made despite the fact that he owns a house with two garages, garages that, I’m sure, could easily house the two SUVs he owns (and I bet those aren’t his only cars). Hypocrite.
John Edwards talks movingly of the two Americas, one rich and one poor:
Today, under George W. Bush, there are two Americas, not one: One America that does the work, another that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks. One America – middle-class America – whose needs Washington has long forgotten, another America – narrow-interest America – whose every wish is Washington’s command. One America that is struggling to get by, another America that can buy anything it wants, even a Congress and a president.
Edwards has plans to fix those two Americas, almost all of which involve increasing the economic burdens on the solid, working middle class. His plan includes, among other things,
(1) increasing the minimum wage, which is always a good way to stifle employment (just ask Germany and France, whose minimum wages are great and whose unemployment routinely hovers close to the double digits);
(2) having the government create jobs (and when or where has that ever worked except when Roosevelt created full employment by getting America into World War II?);
(3) increasing government investment in unions (which are declining in membership probably because they don’t cater anymore to the average working guy), thereby turning unions into one more mouth sucking it up at the taxpayer trough;
(4) creating huge increases in government subsidized housing, so that the middle class can no longer afford homes, but can rest easy knowing that their taxes have provided housing for everyone else; and on and on.
Every single proposal he has requires increased government spending and increased government control over the economy. We’ve seen how well that works in Europe, which managed to live high on the hog only while America supplied a military, so Europeans didn’t have to. As it is, now Europe is collapsing under the weight of armies of old people demanding cradle to grave welfare, while declining numbers of young people (those nasty falling birth rates) mean that there is no one left to pay for the hungry maw of this welfare state.
All of this would be the usual dated socialist babble that comes from a Democratic party that is so stuck in the 1960s/1970s, that it is utterly incapable of looking at the failure of those systems where tried. The difference here, though, is that this babble comes from John Edwards.
This is the John Edwards who demands socialized medicine built on the back of taxpayers, even though it was precisely his type of misbegotten faux scientific lawsuit that helped drive up insurance rates, thereby helped driving up medical costs, thereby helping drive millions of people right out of the medical system altogether. Funnily enough, I don’t see John Edwards either apologizing for the damage he wrought, or giving any of his tens of millions of dollars contingency fees back on that one. Hypocrite.
This is the John Edwards who has a strong environmental score card, much of it aimed at getting us into small cars or better yet, out of cars altogether; that would have us be cold in the winter and hot in the summer; and that would affect America’s manufacturing abilities. All fine, if you believe being green is a good thing either because of global warming (something I, along with more than half of the world’s published scientists, haven’t bought into) or because you’d love to bankrupt the tyrannous, anti-American theocracies of the Middle East (as I very much would). The problem with Edwards, however, in terms of his votes on the environment is that they haven’t stopped him from building himself an ostentatious hog of a house, which comes in at almost 30,000 square feet, or from zipping around in gas hog cars. That is, he talks the environmental talk, at our cost, but ostentatiously does not walk the environmental walk in his own life. Hypocrite.
And getting back to that “Two Americas” war on poverty thing. Was it only me, or did it smell pretty foul that one way he set about solving the poverty problem was to work at a Hedge Fund, economic playground of the rich, rich, rich, to “educate” himself. He must have educated himself really well, because he earned so much money even he is afraid to divulge the amount — and, by the way, he’s keeping it. I also doubt that his little war on poverty is being helped much by the fact that he’s got $16,000,000 of his dollars invested in a fund that his foreclosing left and right on Katrina victims. Hypocrite.
Clearly, John Edwards is not skulking around in dark corners, wishing he could live up to the standards he’s forcing on others (which is, I suspect, where the tortured Larry Craig lurks). Instead, he’s quite open about the fact that we, the ordinary, very hard-working people must give up the comforts of life and hand over to the government ever increasing amounts of our honestly earned pay, while he gets to live an entirely different life style, one characterized by opulence and selfishness.
Given Edwards’ manifest disdain for those he claims he’ll represent, and his high comfort level with demanding of us sacrifices he would never believe in making himself, I am truly baffled when I get political emails telling me that “John Edwards has adopted sound and courageous policy positions. He has not stayed on the sidelines or attempted to straddle the middle on the key issues of our time.”
All John Edwards has ever done is adopt paternalistic and condescending policy positions — positions his very open personal behavior shows that he would never, never consider abiding by himself. Of course, if the real key issue of our time in his supporter’s eyes is John Edward’s anti-War stance, as to that, I do absolve him of hypocrisy. I’m absolutely certain that his demand that no one fight for America comforts entirely with his personal belief systems — because he’d never fight for America himself.
UPDATE: On the subject of hypocrisy, I really, really like Thomas Lifson’s ruminations about Arthur Miller, who was recently discovered to have been horrifically cruel to his Downs Syndrome son. Like Lifson, I never liked Miller’s plays either, finding them horribly bombastic and peopled with nasty, weak, immoral characters who, I always suspected, were more reflective of Miller’s own personality than the world around him.
UPDATE II: Burt Prelutsky sees the same thing I do when he looks at Edwards although, at the end of his article, he adds in a little dollop of Edwards’ actual rank stupidity. It really doesn’t say much for American Democrats that Edwards is polling so well.