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The Hypocrisy of Conservatives

There is a right to Privacy. There is no right to  Hypocrisy.

-Congressman Barney Frank

Everyone has a right to their own privacy. Nobody deserves to have their personal lives, personality, character, and morals judged and analyzed by people who either don’t know them, have never met them, or hardly know them.

Politicians are people. As people, they also deserve that basic right. When choosing to vote for them, most Americans have never met them, and the journalists  who cover their campaigns, policies, and careers have also either never met them or hardly know them.

A majority of Americans do want their leaders to be decent people. An American voter votes for a candidate on faith, because they believe that candidate will do everything within their power to make their lives better. American voters, for the most part, want their leaders to be in Politics as Public Servants who believe in service and social advocacy as a way to help others. It is, in fact, about “Putting People First.”   The same can perhaps be said of police officers, surgeons, and others whose professions affect people’s lives. A surgeon saves lives, and a police officer protects lives. A politician can affect lives in many different ways, depending on what policies they implement, bills they sign into law, legislation they write, or what message they send to the world.

Politicians are supposed to be Public Servants. And a person who serves people helps people. By extension, a person who helps others is generally considered to be a good person.

That being said, people, and most especially good people, can be complicated people with successes and failures. It is unfair to judge them solely on their failures and foolish to judge them only on their successes.  And sometimes, good people can make mistakes and have problems in their personal lives. In case you haven’t noticed, shit happens.

That is why a politician’s personal life should never be aired in public. That is why there should be a basic right to privacy and that right should not be violated.

The examination of Politician’s personal lives started in the late eighties, with the emergence of reactionary right wing “values voters” that picked and chose Bible Verses to advance bigotry against women, gays, racial minorities, joy, laughter, and other blasphemous ungodly characters. They found a home with Movement  Conservatives in the early 1990’s. And, as David Brock writes in his memoir, Blinded By the Right, their morally superior panty drawer snooping consisted of, “…making accusations with no proof, and of using ill-defined issues of ‘judgment’ and ‘character’ to discredit opponents based solely on alleged personal behavior. Sexual McCarthyism had been introduced into modern right-wing politics.”

These “Family Values” nutjobs and their allies in the media have an interesting way of judging elected officials personal lives. As John at LR states:

The bible literalists who spend many a happy hour bashing gays because of a few bible verses are mighty forgiving of Conservative adulterers as Joe Conason points out here. The biblical punishment for adultery is death by stoning. I have yet to see a right winger pitch at stone at Newt, Sanford, Vitter, or Ensign. But lordy, lordy, say “Lewinsky” to one of them and watch them froth. I guess I don’t have the translation of the bible that includes the phrase “Forgive the Republicans but keep on trashing the Democrats with all the invective at your command.”

And maybe I am just being immature and completely juvenile about this (okay, I am) but the Big Dawg just got a couple of bl*wj*bs (granted, the Big Dawg’s sex scandal was a lot more fun, because there were characters like Linda Tripp and Lucciane Goldberg and Kenn Starr and other weirdos involved. Like a soap opera!). Sanford has recently been caught in a five-year affair with a chick from Argentina, and after lying about it to his wife, she caught him, and he actually asked her permission to go see his mistress. Newt Gingrich, the coolest Conservative evah who will totally run for President and beat Palin in the Primaries! gave his wife divorce papers while she was on her death bed, then cheated on his second wife while he was calling Liberals “decadent” and “sick” and routinely sniffing through the Clintons’ private lives. Vitter, another Clinton Condemner, was caught with prostitutes. Larry Craig voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment, and he tried to boink a guy in a bathroom stall. The list goes on. In fact, I have a list!

Since 1998 there has been an average of two sex scandals a year. There are twenty four in my list. Fourteen involve Republicans and ten involve Democrats. And, as Joe Conason says

Even after confessing to the most flagrant and colorful fornication, the worst that a conservative must anticipate is a stern scolding, followed by warm assurances of God’s forgiveness and a swift return to business as usual.

The hilarious thing is that Right Wingers don’t even notice the double standard or the blatant hypocrisy. Just spend a few minutes reading the comments at Hillbuzz, which has pretty much been taken over by Reactionary Republicans, and you would come away believing that all Democrats are the most lewd, immoral, promiscuous cretins in the Universe. But mention Vitter, Sanford, or Ewing and you will get nothing but crickets.

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27 Responses

  1. Nice post. It wouldn’t be such an issue but for their “values” position where they claim they are above it all and represent the moral high ground.

    • So true. It’s the hypocrisy that makes it deplorable- else it would be no one’s business.
      When I read Mark Sanford’s love email to his mistress there were tears of laughter streaming down my face. The man is a homophobe who voted to impeach Bill Clinton.
      This thing he is suffering now is called karma. Someone should have told the narcissist fool that it comes times three.

  2. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

    A former mayor found sitting naked and holding a beer at a Rabun County campsite told police he wasn’t the same naked man seen walking around earlier.

    Mark Musselwhite, 43, said he was hot and had been in the creek, according to a Georgia Department of Natural Resources incident report. He apparently didn’t think he was doing anything wrong.

    Walls and a deputy sheriff went to the campsite Saturday evening after a complaint of a man walking naked in Earls Ford Road, according to the report. Musselwhite appeared to be intoxicated, and several alcoholic beverages were at the campsite, Walls said.

    “I said the complainant had specifically said his campsite, and the fact that he was still nude made me think it was him,” Walls wrote.

    Musselwhite previously served as deacon of First Baptist Church in Gainesville.

    Guess which party he belongs to?

  3. I don’t care about the “affair” — that is between da Gov and his wife.

    What I do care about is the “source” for the emails that da Gov supposedly exchanged with his ‘what-ever’.

    We know (or should know) that our email is probably in a huge gov’ment databank. I’m thinking that the routing for any email is from my computer straight to the gov’ment computer and then to the email address.

    But still to publish private stuff between two individuals steps over the line.

    I don’t care about the gossip — so what — big deal.

    So I agree with littleisis — the point of what happened is the violation of personal privacy. I’m sick of all this invasion of privacy of anyone that might sell — what? — not newspapers. Is it gossip to get more viewers to sell more ad spots??

    • Besides the emails, who told the media that the governor was “missing?”

      He wife and staff were covering for him, at least publicly. Who told the media to look for his car at the ATL airport?

      They claim it was a “hunch” but someone was waiting at the airport for Sanford when he returned from Argentina.

      • Could it be pay back for the Dem Gov who was taken down by the gop?

        Who would know that da Gov used his passport to leave the country???

        Sort of sounds like Chicago style dirty tricks — or something???

        • It could have been his wife, a friend of hers or a disgruntled employee.

          But I would put nothing past David Axelrove.

          Obama’s opponents seem to get their dirty laundry aired in public quite often, and Sanford was one of the top contenders for the 2012 GOP nomination.

          • I thought about that too, but I also don’t know, because Mark Sanford doesn’t seem like he would have won in 2012. If the media has been peddling him, then that makes me think they were setting him up to lose.
            Or it could be that Obama doesn’t know if he would get reelected… I don’t know. I hate speculation.

    • I couldn’t help but wonder if the affair was discovered while he was being considered for the vp slot. Perhaps those who uncovered this information decided to hold on to it until it could be released at a more opportune time (such as in case he was actually nominated for vp, or when a big distraction was needed, as was the case for the vote on cap and trade …. at least prior to the news about Michael Jackson).

  4. Nice post. The seem to be trying to blame Big Dawg, the talking point is that the number of politicians has increased exponentially since he brought us dishonor 🙂 Putting ideas in the head of Larry Craig since ’98 and even going back in time to corrupt pure, innocent 1970’s Newt.

  5. When was Joe Scarborough’s affair? It wasn’t listed here and it took place while he was a congressional representative.

  6. well 1 things 4 sure somethings up

  7. littleisis, I heard an interview of David Brock when his book, “Blinded by the Right” came out — it was a great interview! Thanks for referencing him because it will remind me to go get the book. 🙂

    Here is my take on the public leaders & privacy issue.

    First, off I separate importance between a) private actions that *hurt* people or indicate hypocrisy versus b) private actions that don’t *hurt* anyone.

    I think the former is important to know & the later isn’t worth a dime.

    Here are my 5 main reasons why I think citizens may need to have information:

    1) Once a leader has hurt someone else, it is not just that one individual anymore, it involves others… and victims deserve recognition & not just be thrown under a bus.

    2) Citizens entrust a lot of power, money, & prestige to politicians, authorities, religious leaders, etc. I think that people that go into those jobs should live up to a high ethics standard. If ethics are violated, I think it is important for citizens to know.

    3) People with influence (in government, religion, media) are often snooping & gathering personal information on citizens at the bottom of the power heap. Citizens should be able to know what is happening on the other end of the hierarchy. (the following link I found through Cannonfire)

    4) I actually think that people in positions of authority and power need more scrutiny not less. Adults who chose a life of publicity, as a public servant (leader, celebrity, whatever) know that privacy is the of the 1st things they are trading for power & authority.

    5) Yes, I think character matters. True, that it can be difficult to define but (at least for me) duplicity, betraying others, hurting loved ones & lying is big on my list as an indicator of character. Cheating is indicative of betrayal of a loved one, NOT about sex. Yes, I want to know when a sanctimonious leader is not practicing what he/she preaches. I want hypocrisy pointed out

    For example, I would want to know:

    If a priest is sexually molesting someone, I want to know-
    If a cop is beating his wife in private, I want to know-
    If a banker is cheating on taxes, I want to know-
    If politician (woman or man) advocating morality, is betraying their marriage fidelity, I want to know.

    These are all personal actions but I feel they are relevant.

    John Edwards is a good example for me. He had consistently *played* the sanctimonious, populist, ethical saint (though regularly sabotaging Hillary in the debates). Since part of his tactic as a presidential candidate was selling an image of wholesomeness & being a “common man”, then I think finding out about his marriage betrayal & his gigantic home & baseball court were helpful in pointing out some of John’s dishonesty . It didn’t need to be a dog & pony show, of course, but I still think the information that the guy is kind of slippery on a personal level is important to know. Ironically, the MSM spent quite a lot of time covering things up for him & I disagree in the lop-sided nature of how media will protect their favorites but do outrageous Jerry Springer type hit job on people like Palin or Clinton.

    So my complaint with how private scandals are brought to light is: 1) the one-sided nature of how things things are broadcast (ex: seems Liberals get more crap than Repubs) are 2) the fact that instead of covering an issue, having a fair discussion, and moving on….issues can often be totally blown way out of proportion. I don’t think people’s private lives should be totally trashed or joked about either.

    I feel citizens should have information on leaders but lives don’t have to be turned into media circuses.

    Again, my point is that I think leaders are in a special position, if they want the power & respect of office, they should act with respect to others and honor the privilege of their office. Information shouldn’t be censored but it also does not need to be a Jerry Springer episode.

    Thanks for the thread, Iittleisis!

    • Just to add, that I don’t think blackmail or private information being shared for the pure purpose of political game-changing is ethical either & should be exposed.

      I’m just thinking about the Republican’s Governor’s affair, for example. I also would not put it past Axlerod to do something like plant scandal “leaks” to get rid of the competition. I know they gathered Oppo research on Krugman and lots of popular Progressive bloggers during the election primaries

      http://openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=2708

    • I agree with you in many ways. Infidelity is not about sex but a betrayal of the spouse- and men and women do it in equal measures.
      I suppose, because of my personal beliefs and unconventional lifestyle, I see infidelity through a different lense than most people, because I see sexuality through a different lense than most people.
      There are a lot of very good, loving couples who have survived infidelity and other difficult challenges. In fact, infidelity is hardly ever about sex or the spouse. And there are a lot of very unloving, annoying couples who shouldn’t be together who are never unfaithful. As I said, people’s lives are complicated and people have complicated reasons for doing things. And it is cruel and mean spirited to judge a person solely on their personal mistakes, especially if you don’t know them.
      The only time I have ever laughed or approved of sex scandals is in cases like these- with jokers like Mark Sanford and of course, John Edwards.
      Sanford, of course, hypocritically condemned Bill Clinton, but John Edwards is a good example of a leader who deserved what he got, and whose public humiliation was almost amusing because of it.
      He based his entire campaign off of his family. If you went to his website during the campaign, you had to get past a ridiculous framed graphic of him and Elizabeth and the kids, and he frequently took the moral high ground when debating Hillary. Elizabeth said mean-spirited things about Hillary and claimed she was “happier” (right), even while she knew John had been carrying on with the other chick. And John Edwards also said nasty things about the Clintons. He was a hypocrite and he deserved all of it. What was worse was that his wife was dying and he was also exploiting her illness through the campaign and his career while doing the videographer on the side.
      When people like Sanford, Edwards, and Craig are found out, I laugh my ass off. Because it is karma and they deserve every minute of their shaming.
      But I felt bad when the Big Dawg’s dirty laundry was aired and he and Hillary’s sex lives and marriage was analyzed endlessly . I was furious with him, but he never acted like a morally superior jackass, like jokers like Edwards and Sanford, he always said he was human and imperfect, and that what he did had nothing to do with his wife or daughter. And it gave salivating CDSers ammo for years to come.
      I am ambivelant about the Kennedy boyz. “Gentleman” as someone said below, always behaved that way back then and I don’t know that marriage was about love in those circles anyway, but some of the things Jack and Ted did were just deplorable. Like Mary Jo K and Marylin Monroe. I just cannot get over that shite.
      For the record, I also don’t think celebrities private lives should be aired either, because they are entertainers who are paid to entertain… but I have discussed that before when I talked about Hollywood.

  8. I really don’t even care about the hypocrisy. I don’t care about anything private or sexual where politicians are concerned, not even their moral bloviating over it and subsequent comeuppance.

  9. Rudy Guliani…every Kennedy…

    Problem is that power is an aphrodisiac for many. Those who have it, use it to their personal advantage when they aren’t quite comfortable enough with themselves to think they deserve their position. People who don’t have it, but find themselves in the company of it often will flirt with the intention of getting a piece of it by association.

  10. Nice post, although I have a small nit to pick with the following sentence:

    The examination of Politician’s personal lives started in the late eighties, with the emergence of reactionary right wing “values voters” that picked and chose Bible Verses to advance bigotry against women, gays, racial minorities, joy, laughter, and other blasphemous ungodly characters.

    I clearly remember the Wilbur Mills scandal of 1974, and political sex scandals have a much longer and more illustrious history than that, beginning with the Alexander Hamilton-Maria Reynolds scandal of the 1790s. Good old wikipedia has a nice page cataloging all the well known political scandals of the United States, with dozens of juicy sex scandals mixed in with the standard bribery, corruption, and abuse-of-authority scandals. But it does seem true that sex scandals were on the wane in the 20th century, with an apparent gentleman’s agreement existing between the press corps and politicians, until the rise of the religious right in the 1970s.

    And while it is somewhat fun to see the GOP get a taste of its own hypocritical medicine, I agree with you that a politician’s personal life shouldn’t be aired in public. Especially when it comes to the presidency, I would much rather have a president who is imperfect but happy than one who is unhappy but faithful and takes out his (or her–one can always hope) frustration on the job. Make love, not war, and all that.

    And it totally disgusts me to see supposed Democrats promoting and trafficking in sex scandals, cough, cough, David Axelrod, cough cough.

  11. Here is an interesting link on the discussion of the public lives of leaders compared with private actions.

    http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/government_ethics/introduction/personal-lives.html

    from the article:

    “At heart, this question is a form of a longstanding ethical debate about what is called “the unity of the virtues.” To many of the ancient Greek philosophers, a person could not possess one of the cardinal virtues-prudence, temperance, courage, and justice-without possessing them all”

    So, Littleisis… it turns out this interest in debate about public officials & their private lives has been something going way back in history to at least the Greeks. You are in the company of some great philosophers! 🙂

  12. Barney Frank is certainly one to talk about hypocrisy (not).

    He actually changed his hypocritic opinion about Obama’s Bushian DOMA brief literally overnight.

    So he definitely would know about hypocrisy.

  13. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some kind of genetic programming that automatically deprives anyone who commits adultery of all sexual desires–impotence for men and women their appeal or desire.

    I also think that those who would use certain passages in the bible to advance their point only show their willingness to distort the overall message of the Bible; or they have not really read the whole bible.

  14. There is a right to Privacy. There is no right to Hypocrisy.

    -Congressman Barney Frank

    Is this the same Saint Barney who claimed NO knowledge of the prostitution ring run out of his home? 😳 The same one too that had his long time para amour working for the banking interest his committee was over seeing?

    To me, Barney is just as much a hypocrite as the Governor who was asking forgiveness and as a reward wanted to be allowed to see his mistress and then went on to quote the bible 😯 about a murder, of the spouse.

  15. Great post!

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