I don’t know about you, but I have an instant aversion to anyone trying to make a general political point about this. I know they’re there, but it’s just an instant turn-off, as the Playmates say. The point I tried to make in the column was the general uselessness of extracting evidence that undermines your opponent’s ideology from situations such as this.
Yeah, I guess it is pretty useless to point out that a man whose party has won elections for the last 15 years on a platform of moral scolding knowingly shielded a would-be pederast for half a decade.
The charge of “hypocrisy” is usually leveled, but that sin, for all its juiciness, is overrated.
For fun, go back and find how many times in the last five years Lileks attacked liberals for hypocrisy because they condemned human rights abuses or government intrusion by the Bush administration while allegedly ignoring the sins of Third World dictators. Then come here and read this sentence again.
I expect groups of people will uphold a principle in general but fail to uphold it in specific examples; the latter does not argue against the former, and certainly doesn’t call the truth of the general principle into question. If one pervy goat talks up Family Values one day and regards the page-pool as diddle-fodder the next, it doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as “Family Values.” (Whatever that means.)
I'm glad he added the "whatever that means" so I didn't have to, but really, the point people are trying to make isn't that occasionally an organization promoting a particular set of values finds within its membership an individual who pursues a contrary set of values. It's that when the organization knows that individual is pursuing the contrary set of values and (a) covers up for him and (b) makes excuses for him when his behavior is discovered, that rather seriously calls into question their commitment to the ideals they not only expect everyone else to live up to, but actually legislate for. The reason the charge of hypocrisy bears weight against the Republicans more than the Democrats is that the GOP is the party of values and morals, the party of scolds and martinets. They're the ones out there making lists of forbidden behaviors and compiling catalogs of outrage. So now, when one of their own -- and a particularly loud-mouthed advocate of what behaviors are simply never acceptable -- not only gets caught with one hand in his pants and the other typing naughty messages to teenage boys, but also is the benificiary of a cover-up and subsequent set of high-toned excuses by that party, well, yeah, that does say something about them. Just as with the Catholic Church, it's not the sin of an individual; it's never the sin of an individual, which is always forgivable. It's the reaction to the sin. It's the cover-up, the excuse, the "but when WE do it, it's okay". But wait, Lileks has an even better capper than this 'what's the big deal?' bullshit:
Anyway. I’m tired of the subject, and it gives me an unnerving recollection of the Gary Condit story. That was the lead story on the cable news on September 10, 2001, if I remember.
We have to stop talking about the Foley scandal, because otherwise, THE TERRORISTS WILL ATTACK! Sadly, Lileks isn't the only one making this argument.