Rick Esenberg makes an argument in his latest post to eliminate the charge of hypocrisy from political discourse. While admitting the obvious by allowing that "intellectual consistency is a virtue and an important discipline" (which would seem to eliminate the need for the rest of his post), he worries out loud – as he often does when something in happening that he doesn’t understand or, more often, is a threat to his right-wing ideology – that the charge of hypocrisy has become "a preferred form of political attack".
Since hypocrisy is a necessary component of right-wing complaints and arguments, the attempt to remove the comparison between what somebody says and somebody does – or what somebody on their side does – is disingenuous and an effort that only would benefit one side. The self-righteous throwing of stones from within glass houses and the casting of stones by known sinners is part and parcel of inert wing-nut behavior. Without their constant squawking about people doing things in public that they are doing behind their closed doors, they would have nothing to talk about.
Take Sarah Palin – please! While the quietest candidate in U.S. history hides behind the ten-foot wall constructed by the McCain campaign and sends out hired guns to delay an investigation into her gubernatorial acts of vengence against a former brother-in-law, enough is known about her to know that she has all sorts of characteristics that have driven Esenberg himself just wild when they are supposedly also identified in Barack Obama. Given her thin record and lack of qualifications, her meteoric rise, at least in the eyes of the types of wild-eyed nuts and elitists who attended the Republican convention last week, can only be attributed to undue celebrity. Esenberg’s own "A Star is Born" post was an embarrassing swim in a sea of self-convincing hyperbole (update: and, this morning: "the killah from Wasilla ... the Barracuda .... Sarah America") Yet he is the first to criticize Obama for his own popularity, freely indulging in the ridiculous "messiah" and "anointed one" nonsense. Gee, I don't know anyone more recently "annointed" than Sarah Palin, do you?
Then there is Palin’s wack religious background; she is in all likelihood a Dominionist, who followed her religious advisors’ advice to change the world by infiltrating secular government. Among other entertaining anecdotes, her current church has entertained at least one anti-Semitic speaker (Palin was present and did not walk out). Esenberg, who waxed hysterical about Obama’s attendance at Jeremiah Wright’s church – and is bound to do so again several times before the election – was too over-the-moon to find room in his "Star" post to address the issue of Palin’s religious zealotry. I won’t hold my breath to wait for him to admit or recognize it.
The identification of such obvious hypocrisy is not "a form of political attack"; it is an important way to evaluate the legitimacy of the right-wing attacks in the first place. There are lots of ways to get at the right-wing’s attempt to portray Obama as an empty celebrity, but few are more effective than their attempt to pump up an empty celebrity of their own. Either "intellectual consistency is a virtue", or it’s not. Esenberg seems to be saying that those without virtue should not be called out while they harangue about everyone else’s.
Even more fun and instructive is pointing out hypothetical hypocrisy. This is the concept behind my soon-to-be-bestselling board game, What If A Democrat Did It? For instance, what if a Democrat decided to pick a running mate with a pregnant, unwed 17 year-old daughter. You would hear the caterwauling from coast to coast. If it was a Democrat, the weird speculation by one blogger that Palin’s youngest child is actually her granddaughter wouldn’t be restricted to just that one guy – it would be broadcast as fact on talk radio 24 hours a day like so many Clinton murders. Palin was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it. Are you kidding me?
So, according to Rick Esenberg, we should not point out the hypocrisy of those who are hypocritical. Oh, I don’t think so. Hypocrisy is pretty bad and pointing it out where it exists is quite illuminating. Esenberg would be better served going back to just drawing distinctions and making excuses for the hypocrits.