Maryland Blogger Alliance

Alliance FAQs

Latest MBA Posts

October 03, 2006

The vice of hypocrisy

Paul Farhi writes in today's Washington Post Style section, regarding the Mark Foley scandal, that "[i]n recent years, for the most part, Democrats have been able to survive their sordid escapades while Republicans have paid with their political lives." He notes that sex scandals involving Republicans tend to result in resignation of the offender, while sex scandals involving Democrats often do not. Why? Perhaps a sense of hypocrisy, given the more traditional attitudes of the Republican party against such behavior.

Let's flesh this argument out a little. Republicans (and I'm speaking very generally here) place a higher value on social morality, and when one of them transgresses those values, the party refuses to support him, and the press charges hypocrisy. This is slightly unfair, because most of those who adhere to traditional values recognize the fallibility of man, but that doesn't mean that certain human failings deserve no punishment. In Foley's case, there seems to be no question that he deserves punishment.

So let's indulge a thought experiment. If it's hypocrisy that's the problem, how can we create a situation in which Democrats would be pilloried by their own and by the press for hypocrisy? What values do the Democrats hold so dear that breaching those values would justify resignation and charges of hypocrisy?

I'm having a hard time with this, but I suspect the values would have to be related to notions of equal treatment or, more accurately, preferred treatment of certain classes and racial or ethnic groups. For example, one would have to assume that a Democrat who expressed racist or even politically incorrect views of race would find himself in the same situation as a Republican who was involved in a sex scandal.

But this assumption seems to be incorrect. Example: A Democrat is a former member of the Ku Klux Klan and is recorded using the N-word in public. Resign? No. He remains an elder statesman for the Democrats in the Senate.

Example: A Democrat is a football commentator and suggests that the press gives favorable treatment to black quarterbacks simply because they're black. Resign? Yes. But, of course, as you know, he isn't a Democrat at all. He's Rush Limbaugh.

I guess we can say that Andrew Young's resignation as spokesman for Walmart might fit this mold. But you'd think there would be far more examples.

So maybe you can help me. Where do we find Democrats under accusation of hypocrisy by the press and under attack from their own for failing to live up to Democratic values?

Or is it remotely possible that there is no such situation? That the press is simply softer on Democratic misconduct and that the Democrats evaluate the political viability of their own solely in political terms, without regard to core values?

UPDATE (10/4): This comment at HotAir amused me:

Just a hunch, but Foley will announce he’s switching parties and all will be forgiven.

JammieWearingFool on October 3, 2006 at 5:44 PM