John Edwards: Hypocrite

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.

(If you think this post deserves prominence at the Patrick Ruffini 2008 Presidential Wire, please click ** here**.)

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 IIBurt 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.

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Comments

  1. zhombre says

    You make a movie about atrocities committed by Islamic fascists and you are accused of jingoism, warmongering, and fomenting hatred of Muslims, and that’s for openers; you are branded a dread neo-con, and may wind up being the object of a fatwa issued by some bloody-minded little iman. On the other hand, you make a movie about atrocities committed by American soldiers and you are lionized at Cannes and Venice, your career is resuscitated, and your status in Hollywood moves up several notches. For people who are otherwise unmoored except for attachment to status, ego, applause and money, the choice is fairly simple.

  2. says

    Hello Bookworm,

    In my previous comment on this subject, I think I came off too judgmental about Craig and not enough sympathy. His transgression here perhaps doesn’t merit the charge of hypocrisy, but, to my mind, it actually borders on a psychotic break with reality. Here is a man deeply sick and conflicted man who seem to be living a double life because if I’m reading the news correctly, he’s been caught doing something like this before only he got away with it on those other occasions.

    I have a real problem with man who rode into power on an explicitly anti-gay, family values platform and then getting caught with his trousers down attempting to have gay sex. I mean, God bless him, he’s got some serious personal issues, but I don’t think he should be holding high public office. I would think the same thing if any straight congressman/woman or senator gets caught visiting a brothel or having a casual fling in a public setting.

    Whether or not Craig reveled in gleefully outwitting the law for years on these promiscuous public sexual acts is beside the point. That gets into motives and intentions that we have no way of knowing. I don’t think we want a senator serving us who is this compromised (however, I wouldn’t have problem one with him if he had lived an openly honest gay life…)

    At least with Bill Clinton, he didn’t preach high morality and family values and all that other. You expect him to be a swine.

    As to John Edwards, it has become increasingly clear that he doesn’t practice what he preaches. He says we should we should forego our SUV’s while he indulges himself with two of them. He preaches environmentalism like Al Gore and flies around in private planes. He waxes eloquent on the heartless policies of the Bush Administration that squeezes the middle class into oblivion, while he preys on the poor with lucrative real estate deals in New Orleans.

    The list is endless.

    The curious thing though, is that I partially agree with some of his proposals.

    1. He wants to increase the minimum wage. I agree with this. How much and to what extent and how the amount is to be determined (such as to stay ahead of the rate of inflation) can be debated. But it is clear that a person living in a major American city cannot live off of the current minimum wage. He’d have to work two jobs or do something on the side.

    I find it troublesome that we have expanded our country’s production, our stock market passed the 13,000 mark, profits for corporations are at an all time high, and executives have these lush salary packages, while the workmen’s wages are depressed, the actual purchasing power of the people are slowly decreasing, medical insurance eludes a sizable portion of our population or, if they have an HMO, their being moved around through the bureaucracy like cattle… (It is normal for doctors to see 40 to 70 patients a day. In and out, revolving door. So much for individual, tailor-made healthcare.)

    All this bespeaks an increasing chasm between the affluent and the working class. While increasing the minimum wage alone won’t solve these problems, I think it could be a start.

    2. Having government create jobs. It’s a nice idea if the government hands it off to private ownership once they get the business going. Having a bureaucracy wrapped in red tape and a bow tie ain’t going to make more jobs in the long haul.

    3. Unions… The collapse of unions is one of the most unfortunate events to happen to workers in recent memory. The AFL-CIO does not represent their members anymore and have instead morphed into becoming an arm for Leftists and the Democrats. I think we need a vibrant union culture to take care of the needs of the working class to hold corporations to account. We used to have a lively awareness of what unchecked power does to people, and with companies buying off politicians by the bushel, the working class needs unions. The main problem nowadays is that unions are acting like extortionists forcing people to pay their dues or else…

    4. Subsidized housing? I don’t know about this one. I would dearly love to help newly married people to own their own homes, which many can’t afford to do because of astronomic real estate prices in the major cities, but I don’t know how we’d do it without turning it into a slum.

    As you can tell, I’m not a true conservative and I’m definitely not a laisseiz faire sort of guy. I have lots liberal leanings. The fact that Edwards ethic is “do as I say and not as I do” does not negate the fact that we have serious domestic problems that needs addressing. By and large, I don’t think that Edwards and the Left have the solutions to our domestic problems, but they do have a knack for identifying at least part of the problem.

    Personally, I think Edwards’s campaign is going to tank because of the very things you’ve pointed out. As far as I’m concerned, Edwards is politically irrevelant. A superfluous froth of Leftism foaming up from the Democratic Party just enough to top off their lattes before driving off in their SUV’s.

  3. swampacreage says

    The question is who is the bigger hypocrite ? “Family values gay or not gay man” Larry or John “money making is okay for me but there will not be enough for you do to the same so do as I say not as I do” Edwards .Oh it’s a tough one.They both ooze with grease but I say Larry is the bigger not so hip creep.But then who isn’t a hypocrite if you get my drift ? But alas ,even the best of them like pure Snow White drifts astray now and then but at least with some class (blizzards and dwarfs) . Eeeeeeeeeeewey pooh in a bath room.Hypocrite !

  4. greg says

    The Plain of Armageddon will be a sky-high flaming incinerator before anyone could unpack the mendacity and mistruth of Bookworm’s post.

    Suffice it to say that Larry Craig’s career of “Family Values” morality — which Book (naturally) applauds — cost Craig nothing to embrace and promote (up until his bathroom trysts became public knowledge). That’s the beauty of “Family Values”. They impact others, with seemingly little risk of ever coming home to roost.

    In contrast, John Edward’s morality — which Book (naturally) castigates — touches the lives of stakeholders in the American Experiment. The participants in the “ownership society”, who — in aggregate — have lost ground under the weight of Republican governance. The statistics are easily Googled and are available from the Edwards campaign. Because the Edwards campaign is willing to risk asking Americans to make a difference that affects many, rather than a few. In taking such a position, Edwards opens himself up to the bitter quips and demagoguery of this country’s Bookworms, whose politics of self-righteousness has failed, as Larry Craig’s unfortunate example demonstrates.

  5. Mike Devx says

    So, G says that Larry Craig’s career of morality costs him nothing to embrace and promote, but John Edward’s career of two Americas and environmentalism “touches the lives of stakeholders”. Craig is execrable and Edwards is a saint, eh?

    Craig holds to a set of values but violates them with repeated compulsive anonymous gay sex. Edwards holds to a set of values but violates them with repeated large-scale environmental waste and rich-America crass grabbing at the brass ring and feeding at the trough. They’re both utter hypocrites, in my book. They both clearly must see and know that their actions are completely at odds with their public positions.

    It’s the repeated nature of their violations of their own code that exposes both of them to the charge of hypocrisy. Everyone can be weak and violate their standards from time to time. It is the point in time when their violation is exposed, and their response is a denial, that things get really unseemly.

    In Larry Craig’s mind, he probably does not believe himself to be gay. A family man with children, who occasionally engages in some form of gay sex, may attempt to take that position. John Edwards probably does not believe himself to be ruining the environment with his own SUV (“we drive it less”), his 30,000 sq ft home, his enrichment at the hedge fund that forecloses on Katrina victims, etc) or engaging in crass rich-America behavior at the expense of poor-America.

    Hypocrisy is not a crime, but I think it’s reasonable to expect your leaders to live by their professed creeds and beliefs. It’s reasonable to deny them leadership positions if they cannot.

  6. Danny Lemieux says

    So, Thomas, to choose one example, you would like to help young married people buy their first house by having (us) taxpayers contribute our labor to satisfy their need. Ditto for “minimum wage”, health care and all the other entitlements that you mentioned. These are not rights, but actual demands on the productivity of others that you advocate. Don’t you see anything wrong with that picture? You, by the way, are free to cut a check to any young married person that you wish to subsidize.

    A “right” is something that does not make any demands by one person upon another. An entitlement demands a forced confiscation of one person’s wealth (i.e., labor) to satisfy the needs of another.

    As far as corporate profits being at an all-time high, I would rather see them reinvest them into my 401-k retirement account through purchases, hires, innovation and production that benefits not just my investment but countless employees and contractors as well. I simply don’t have much faith in Uncle Sam spending my money (or anybody’s money) better than the owner of that money.

    And, just in case your sense of guilt about the poor and uninsured is hemorrhaging out of control, consider that poverty in America would be considered wealthy in the great majority of nations in the world. It’s true that I don’t see many young marrieds buying homes in my upscale middle class neighborhood these days – but my wife and I didn’t either until we were well into our 40s. Ain’t life a b*!

  7. Mike Devx says

    I think Thomas did a fantastic job of explaining himself thoughtfully in comment #2 above. Thank you, Thomas, for being thoughtful, unlike the nearly useless “G”!

    I can agree with Thomas that our politicians on the left do have a point. My problem is that they see government as beneficial, whereas I see it as a necessary evil. The first view promotes ever expanding government power; the second view promotes always severely restraining government power whenever possible.

    The government is in the business of seizing assets from productive people (the non-productive produce nothing that can be taxed, after all). The government then always redistributes those assets in the manner it sees best.

    Only a pure anarchist would deny that this is a valid function of government.

    The difference is that conservatives want to limit this horrible power to only what is absolutely necessary for the common welfare. Liberals want to constantly expand this horrible power for various reasons, usually involving compassion and/or control, but in fact they too have a goal of providing for the common welfare.

    A similar example exists on the right, where for religious reasons, or cultural reasons, the right often uses this horrible government power to restrict the behaviors of free individuals purely on moral grounds, not on the basis of a violation of an individual’s rights. Again, the motives are honestly to enhance the common welfare.

    The essential problem for me, Thomas, is that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. “The ends justify the means” is at the heart of the argument for expanding government power. Noble ends often, via their means, follow the law of unanticipated outcomes that are far worse than expected. And that problem of the unexpected outcome doesn’t even take into account corruption.

    When you add the inevitable corruption caused by government power into the argument, I think it becomes clear why unrestrained government power always inevitably produces worse results, eventually, than its alternative.

    Thomas, you support unions as a way of allowing the less powerful to join together to present a balancing force against the more powerful.

    To assist the unfortunate, why can’t we band into “unions” of the empathic, and voluntarily donate to assist them? Such a community, if well organized, might be incredibly effective. They have a personal stake in the success of their efforts. Why must efforts to help the unfortunate always, instead, involve forced government seizure of assets?

  8. says

    Danny,

    While it is true that our poor is the envy of the world, I think we can do much better. Where in the world can you find the poor driving to work, eating out once a week and going to movies? All this is true and I don’t think we really fathom our fantastic wealth in comparison to most of the world outside these borders.

    However, I know for a fact that our healthcare system is shot to hell. So is the VA in Southern California for that matter. If anyone has gone to the doctor in Los Angeles lately through an HMO, they would see the common site of filled waiting rooms. After waiting for a while, you get to see your doctor briefly as he whisks inside the room, glance perfunctorily at your chart, and 5 to 10 minutes later, you’re dismissed if you don’t have a serious health problem. Then you slap down your co-pay and adios, you’re done.

    This has been my experience and the experience of many of the people I know. Some border-line poverty, some low middle-class.

    I think we’ve created a situation through heavy insurance and legal fees for doctors (they’re always being sued.) where doctors would need to have a high patient turnover in order to make their enterprise profitable, the price of which, of course, is passed on to the patients, both monetarily and by their health.

    You may call this a guilt for the poor. Some would call it excessive self-interest. A society can’t dispossess the poor and working class or leave them to fate and not have consequences.

    For the record, Danny, I never said these are “rights”. I am considering how to conduct a more just society. Yes, most of the things I advocated previously would demand the productivity of others and we would have to pass on some of the fruits of their labors to people less productive, perhaps even for the indolent.

    Mike,

    Yes, power corrupts. The trick in my opinion is to find the right balance. The unions would have to be powerful enough to take on the multinational Goliaths. The government also has to be powerful enough to take on the multinationals. The companies and multinationals have to be strong enough to protect their interest against government encroachment. Etc, etc.

    There isn’t an easy answer. If we scale down government into a lean laissez faire bureaucracy, we run the risk of a George Soros or a Bill Gates buying out our politicians and intimidating them into submission.

    If we expand government to a behemoth hog, it’ll gobble up all the industries and make everyone fill out their bureaucratic forms in triplicates and hand it in to the Office of Paper Shufflers down the hall, across the street and through the glass window. Of course, our industries would go multinational and move overseas and we’d be living in a socialist society.

    If we lose unions entirely, companies would stomp the worker down like so many gnats. Without them, we’d have to trust in the honor of our employers not to give them the short end of the stick.

    You asked, “Why must efforts to help the unfortunate always, instead, involve forced government seizure of assets?” My experience and understanding of human nature, which is as constant as the northern star, does not lead me to believe we’d help the unfortunate out of our own good, altruistic hearts.

    We usually like to have “a good feeling” and appear not as mercenary and as the greedy thieves we really are. You can be “for the environment” or “for family values” or “for the polar bears and peguins” or “for the troops” or whatever and not have any of these things make any demands on you whatsoever. It makes for good self-esteem but not much else.

    I’m a sure that the nurses down at the VA in Long Beach have really good opinions of themselves and think they’re really good people… as they watch a man violent die of a seizure right below their nurses station. This LITERALLY happened. They didn’t help him because he wasn’t their patient, and he wasn’t their responsibility.

    For myself, I don’t trust to the goodwill of my fellow man. I am delighted when I see it, but ultimately I think this is the reason why our government seizes part of our productivity and hands it to others. And even there, most of us would support helping the poor in some abstract way. We might even applaud the government when it sets up a program to help the poor get on their feet. But then many of us take umbrage when the government would have to use our tax dollars to do it…

  9. says

    But, Thomas….the government *IS* your “fellow man”. It’s a mystery to me why a guy who doesn’t trust his fellow man, interacting on a level playing field, to help him when he needs it, is willing to invest some other multitudes of his “fellow men” with a monopoly on force in society, and further to ask that these untrustworthy fellow men we call government, to take the fruit of his labor to spend as they see fit?

    Can’t you see the logical disconnect here?

    By the way, if you think that ordinary people won’t help others from the goodness of their hearts, then you don’t know about the Shriner’s Hospitals….. Truth is, that if everyone who really wants the government to help the poor, plus everyone in this country who calls himself a Christian,
    would give a tithe (that’s 10% of your income) to charitable organizations caring for unmet needs, we would have no need for the government’s unconstitutional entitlements.

  10. Don Carlson says

    Thank you, Danny Lemieux for your succinct answer to Thomas’s well-intended and compassionate complaint. Compassion does not generate good government. We Americans have been long concerned with what we think should be the compassionate character of democracy. Most Americans now believe that a government guided by anything other than compassion cannot be a democratic government, but that is false. Compassion may be–it probably is–essential in the people of a good society, but it is antithetical for compassion to be the guiding principle of democratic government. The purpose of democratic government is the preservation of liberty. The idea that government must also act compassionately is corollary to the socialist notion that the function of government should be to create “fairness” and material equality in a nation. But this notion in a democracy (and only in a democracy is this debate possible) drags the political conversation into a categorical contradiction and eventually down the drain. When the notion is put into practice, government becomes monstrous—the inevitable result of being made into God.
    If the society wishes to mitigate the suffering of those who feel the effects of catastrophe or who fail in any of a myriad ways, let it do so through volunteer organizations, through religious institutions, through private institutions for self-help, or through individual efforts to understand and mitigate the pain of others–but not through the government. Leave to our elected officials and their appointees and factotums the awesome tasks of regulation and adjustment required in the daily life and strife of even the most happy nation, and let them be guided in this by the understanding that the freedom of individuals to act, invent, and build is the most fecund of national assets; and that those same individuals’ acceptance of responsibility for themselves and for their families and communities constitutes the nation’s strength and conscience.
    Freedom is opportunity, and you can bet that where opportunity is in short supply, so too is liberty. Examine the situations of those having to struggle most in America and you will find that they are those who have been most “helped” by governmental authority, those most stymied by the fences that such “help” has built around whole segments of our society. These deprived people are saddled with the most expensive and the least effective schools in the nation. They are, consequently, the least employable people in the nation–and the lowest paid. They are uneducated, unable to aid in the education of their children, unable to raise themselves from deprivation because they are unable to earn enough to save anything, and unable to imagine a way out of this hopeless maze because they have been abandoned by the rest of us to the kind ministrations of government and its faceless, careless, overburdened bureaucracies.
    Thomas, like so many other Americans, is persuaded that the answer to the deprivation and the failures of so many is for the government to “do something,” but every time we cry to authority for it to “do something” it usurps a little more of our authority over our lives, it steals a little more of our responsibility for our lives from us, and it robs all of us–especially those whom it “helps”–of a little more of our initiative and self-respect.
    It is not an accident that the least generous of Americans are those who proclaim loudest the need for compassionate government. While they advocate the theft of our liberty by bureaucracy, they also gladly relinquish their own responsibilities as human beings–”Let the government be compassionate, we have better things to do.” No matter how well-intended, hypocrisy is born of this. John Edwards is only one outstanding example among many.
    Thank you, Bookworm, for demonstrating the compassionate view of those who trip and fall, but I cannot find my way to that with Mr. Edwards; he is too destructive.

  11. zhombre says

    Re your footnote on Arthur Miller: I’ve had the impression for years that Miller was a cold, judgmental SOB and that the character he most resembled from his work was Judge Danforth in The Crucible. I draw that conclusion from his plays, by the way characters are condemned for common moral lapses, and some episodes from Miller’s personal life (Elia Kazan, Marilyn Monroe), long before I knew he treated his own son in such a shabby way.

  12. JJ says

    Thomas, I don’t actually think our healthcare system is “shot to hell.” What may indeed be so shot is the idea that the government should be involved, and you shouldn’t have to pay for it, but there you go: you instantly run squarely into the concept of what is or is not going to be seen as a “right.”

    Horrible, cruel, wicked, mean, bad and nasty as this undoubtedly makes me sound, I’m not so damn sure that healthcare is necessarily a “right.” In this world you mostly get what you can afford to pay for, and for the first three million years of human history this applied to necessities just as firmly as it did to the fripperies. If you want to see a doctor without the Dante-esque scene you decscribed above: skip the HMO and pay for it.

    Buy health insurance. Now, note that word “insurance.” I have health insurance, and what it does is the same as any other kind of insurance: it insures. I pay probably a quarter of what you pay every month, and I am covered for actual, real, serious problems. (In the true meaning of the word, I’m “insured.”) If I wrap the car around a tree, I’m covered. If I develop some form of cancer, I’m covered. If I have a heart attack, I’m covered. BUT – when I go to the doctor for a routine check-up, or some dopey issue that arises, that’s on me. Since I go to the doctor about three times a year, I come out miles ahead, financially – and don’t have to deal with forms, co-pays, more forms, and masses of generalized BS.

    (Just as a sidelight, why should doctors, plainly among the best and brightest among us, be so regulated? Why are lawyers, with their infinite capacity for damage, not equally locked into straightjackets, told what they can charge, who they can see, when they can see them, etc.? They should have the benefits of a free market, but doctors shouldn’t?)

    Make the government a lean and laissez-faire operation, by all means. You negate the Soros and Gates problem by simply bouncing everybody out every couple of years. Two terms in Congress and good-bye: you’re finished. One in the Senate (and six years is too long, knock that down to four) and adios. It’s supposed to be government “service,” from which you take time off from your real life to “serve.” It isn’t written anywhere that it should be pleasant, or a source of enrichment. Or permanent.

    Government -right now – is something other than a behemoth hog? Our heavy industries are already multinational and overseas and, as the healthcare situation ably demonstrates, we have already traversed a good slice of the ground between the representative republic our forefathers envisioned and the 1960′s-style British/Canadian/European form of socialism.

    I disagree with you, by the way, about the lack of goodwill amongst your compatriots. Americans are fantastically generous – personally, not governmentally – and always have been. No other country on earth has or has ever had the network of private charities we maintain as a matter of course. No government, for example; no entity anywhere, came anywhere near the sum total of donations private Americans sent to southeast Asia in the wake of the tsunami, and this is absolutely routine. Americans are absurdly generous and caring, except, perhaps, to themselves.

    The government siezes productivity because that’s what governments do. There has never been one anywhere that didn’t. It is the nature of the beast to accumulate power and suck up money.

    I don’t much like Arthur Miller, either. Hugely overrated, wanted to grow up to be Eugene O’Neill, not in the same league.

  13. says

    Helen: It really isn’t Craig v. Edwards. Craig was a springboard for a thought I’ve been having for a long time, which is the person who struggles against the dark nightmare of his own soul, versus the other who flauntingly tells us “do as I say, not as I do,” especially when what he wants from us is a quantum level down in quality than what he himself thinks he deserves. One is a pathetic, tortured soul (I suspect), the other a narcissist who thinks he deserves everything and others deserve to make sacrifices.

  14. says

    I think you are right about Craig. He is better off out of the public eye for a bit. Take a look at this: http://phoebekate.com/2007/09/01/potty-time-with-senator-craig/

    Edwards, however, fits the mold for a Democrat. Leaders are typically richer and more educated than the masses who vote for them. Republicans tend to vote for their equals (as far as money and power are concerned, not human worth). So Edwards concern for the poor is not necessarily hypocritical. Yes, he lives a privileged life. So did the Kennedys and the Clintons. Lawyers tend to make enough money to live above the poverty level (as do many non-lawyers). A candidate shouldn’t have to give up his life to run for office on any platform. That’s not in the requirements. But you know all of this. So why is Edwards a hypocrite?

  15. Danny Lemieux says

    Interesting perspective – our “leaders” are “better than us”…wealthier and more educated…(a huge assumption) so, therefore, it is OK if people like the Kennedys, Kerrys, and Edwards lecture to us riff-raff how we need to run our lives and doff our hat to them in the process.

    I’ve heard that world view expressed many times before, mostly by aristocrat wannabees and mostly in Europe. Not in America, though. I would like to think that real Americans will never ever accept assessing rights and privileges according to political, educational or economic class as the natural order of things.

  16. says

    To be clear, if Edwards believes that there are two Americans, one America in which stands the people in need of his help as the educated and wealthy aristocrat and a second America in which Edwards and Company resides in as the superior force in events, then no, Edwards would not be a hypocrite. Then if he says you all should do so and so, he isn’t talking about himself, cause he isn’t part of your side of America.

  17. says

    On another issue, this isn’t the chickenhawk dance either. In that, Edwards doesn’t need to be poor to talk to the poor or about the poor or anything else concerning the poor. Hypocrisy is often incorrectly used for partisan political gains, through attacking a person’s credibility by saying he doesn’t do what he says should be done. Doesn’t walk the walk, but talks the talk, in essence. This is incorrect because hypocrisy is not about always doing what want to be doing. Hypocrisy is espousing a belief that you don’t believe in, rather than espousing a belief that you just happen to fail in adhering to because of human flaws.

    Jesse Jackson for example doesn’t believe in race equality or anything else he says. Nor do most propagandists, except the true believer propagandists, even though it is debatable whether a propagandist that believes in their own propaganda is really a propagandist.

    If Edwards simply said that only poor people, unlike him, should do so and so, and Edwards himself didn’t do what he recommended, then Edwards wouldn’t be a hypocrite. However, if Edwards recommended that people do X and Y because X and Y should be done by everyone since it benefits everyone, and doesn’t himself do such things, then he obviously doesn’t believe that his lies apply to himself.

    Maybe he made a mistake. That is possible. Unlikely, but possible. However, whatever mistakes Edwards and his people make, it is going to be their responsibility to explain, not ours.

  18. ttj says

    It looks like you guys here are having a hard time convincing yourself of what you are trying to say. What is Edwards supposed to do, live in a shack? There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of Republicans who have houses and properties that big or bigger…and have many more cars. It’s clear he personally knows plenty about poverty. Have you, by the way, seen the house he grew up in? It was tiny. Does he have to move back into that house just to satisfy people that he has firsthand knowledge of what he is saying? That is rather stupid. Until all the MONEY GRUBBING Republicans, Conservatives, Libertarians and Democratic Washington insiders shilling for corporate interests sell off all they own and take a vow of poverty, NOBODY can call John Edwards a hypocrite.

  19. says

    TTJ, do you understand what it means to be a hypocrite? The “money grubbing” Republicans, Conservatives, Libertarians, etc., however, are not advocating intrusive economic government plans that will hit the middle class hard, while leaving him untouched. I think it’s great that he moved up from poverty. I’d like him to get his hands off my economics so that others have the same chance. Edwards talks the talk of a populist, but he lives ostentatiously like a plutocrat. He is an unappealing figure in that he demands sacrifices of others that he’s clearly not willing to make himself.

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