Friday, September 07, 2007


[posted by Callimachus]

This seems as good a springboard as any to dive from into the ethical issues of the Larry Craig scandal:

While I have criticized soon-to-be-former Idaho Senator Larry Craig, I have not joined the chorus of left-wing bloggers (and at least one sensible centrist) in faulting him for his hypocrisy. First of all, the man seems to experience dissociation between what he does when he goes to relieve himself in a public restroom and what he says when he speaks out (and votes) in public fora. Moreover, he doesn’t need to vote a certain way just because he’s (apparently) attracted to other men.

I may discount the hypocrisy argument, but critics of the GOP seem to celebrate it. As Robbie, now of The Malcontent observed two years ago, “The hypocrisy argument is a tactic used by thought fascists who believe an immutable personal characteristic must dictate – without exception – the ideological and political state of a person’s mind.”

The “outers” define the meaning of hypocrisy to suit their purposes. Or maybe they’re just trying to put a highfalutin gloss to their own prurient passions, a strange fascination with the sexual behavior of a handful of their ideological adversaries and a perverse glee in making that public.

I live in a landslide county. Probably a lot of you do, too. That means the voter registration edge of one of the two parties is so much greater than that of the other, that if space aliens descended to earth on the eve of a county election and kidnapped two out of three voters from the dominant party, it still would win the election handily.

These situations are self-reinforcing processes. Because the big party wins all the elections, the real battles are those fought in the big party's primary. Thus voters who might not be ideologically aligned with that party register in it anyhow, so they can take part in the crucial process of selecting The Candidate Who Is Going To Win in November.

And people seriously interested in careers in public service, or in political glory, or some combination of the two, also will join that party. The leaders of the smaller party tend to be cranks (crank: a tool that's easy to wind up and hard to stop once it gets going) or comfortable minoritarians who have no management or leadership skills to begin with and never expect to be called on to exercise them.

There are only two political parties in America that regularly win in elections. That means every question of political significance tends to find one answer in one of the parties and another in the other. Nobody pretends that there is anything but a token attempt to be ideologically consistent. Even an Aquinas or a Duns Scotus couldn't square the various planks of the modern Republicans and Democrats. Environmentalists and unionized steelworkers? Christian moralists and free-market entrepreneurs?

Probably nobody in important positions in either party personally adheres to all the position points of that party. Except maybe Bill Clinton who had the remarkable skill of convincingly believing in anything.

Given all that, I expect them all to be hypocrites. That's not the full answer on Craig, but it's my starting point.