Sunday, September 07, 2008

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

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.


Anonymous said...


Current USA Today poll has McCain by 4% 50-46%, thats one hell of a "Palin" bounce. Obama got nothing after his election. You can smear and tell lies about Palin all you want, but she has energized the republican vote, increased the independent vote towards McCain and LMAO she has increased the "bubba" vote towards McCain. She has also swayed democrat leaning older women to boot. A McCain/Palin win is in the bag!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

krshorewood said...

Yeah, isn't it a shame that you people are swayed by lies and snark? Classless.

Do us a favor and point out exactly what were the lies about Palin?

Display Name said...

Esenberg's always trotting out the "o tempora o mores", longing for the golden age when we all conformed to a set of virtues. Whose virtues? Hmm, let me guess. The Catholic Church?

Hypocrisy ain't the half of it. You're damned no matter what you do, if it's convenient for their argument du jour. Given their ridicule of any whiff of intellectualism, you can't even hold up two seemingly contradictory or oppositive facts or ideas in order to weigh them seriously. You're a flip-flopper, you're an elitist, you're a professor, you're a rambler who can't decide, just like Kerry or Gore. You're got to be certain. Gray doesn't get the votes, doesn't appeal to the Biblical literalists. Gotta be the decider, gotta act fast, now you've got to be a maverick. If you speak about the two sides of an issue, they'll edit out the unpopular phrase to make it your issue, then put it on YouTube.

You're suspect if you aren't holding the today's specific set of positions, and the set keeps changing, regardless of historical consistency. Orwellian shifts are the new norm. The mayor of Richmond is unqualified; the mayor of Wasilla is our best hope. Unwed mothers are a scourge and evidence of moral decay; unwed mothers are to be praised and welcomed. Saddam is a bulwark in the Middle East, Saddam must be captured and killed. McCain is a loyal Republican, McCain is all about change.

Pointing out hypocrisy isn't supposed to be the end of the discussion, it's meant to start it. Where did that value go? Down the memory hole? Did talk radio and blogging help or hurt that value? What behavior is encouraged at, say, Real Debate Wisconsin? Real debate or name-calling? Where are the Republicans calling for the encouragement of "honestly debating what divides us"?

All the way down? This from the mid-level turtle who made a commercial to tell us it's better to ignore the experience and demonstrated intelligence of a judge, and vote for the underqualified and unproven because he promised us, cross his heart, that he won't legislate from the bench.

Anonymous said...

Not that anyone on the left is convinced by facts, but Kshorewood might want to check this link.

Might help you too, Mike.

Mike Plaisted said...

I got excited there for a minute - I thought maybe it would be a link to a Palin press conference or something...alas, she is still hiding in broad daylight, and this is not to be.

Yes, this link is all over the rightosphere and is quite underwhelming. Palin did question the librarian about the possibility, which is bad enough. She also suggested that teaching evolution science and creationist religious nonsense in schools, which is also bad enough. Her hubby was in the secessionist group and she spoke at their convention - I somehow doubt she was challenging them.

The link fails to address more substantive issues like taking per diems while at home; flying her family around the state and the country at state expense; using her power as governor to try to extract family vengence, and the McCain machine now has a full team in Anchorage trying to kill the investigation; fired disloyal city and state employees; supported the Bridge to Nowhere and is STILL lying on the stump about it...the fun never ends.

What do you think, Patrick? Do you think you will be able to run out the clock and stonewall on all this for two months? Do you think you should be able to? And what if a Democrat had just one of these things hanging out there? Where and how loud would you be squawking about it?

But, like I have said, without the ability to be bald-faced hypocrits, most right-wingers would have nothing to say.

Anonymous said...


Like you have anything substanial to say, you just make it up and smear as you go, never saying anything substanial and gettting your lame talking points from, who is the hypocrit? It is not us.