Skip to main content

Hypocrisy Fatigue

Berkley MI
Friday

Hypocrisy is a funny thing. We are all hypocrites in our own way, and part of being a grownup is coming to terms with how we fail to measure up to our own best image of ourselves. Few of us are as good as we’d like to be (some are, but they tend to be insufferable), and understanding our own inner hypocrite can be a healthy thing.
But out in the public forum, where its repercussions can be brutal, where professing one thing and doing another can hurt people, often intentionally, hypocrisy is not healthy at all. And if hypocrisy can be measured by the direness of its consequences, then today’s Republican party has ushered in its golden age.
None of the traditional pillars of Republican orthodoxy have survived the Trump era. Small government, free trade, strong alliances, containment of Russia, low deficits, balanced budgets, the list goes on. All have fallen with a thud, accompanied by jaw-dropping hypocrisy. Yes, their worship of tax cuts and deregulation remains fervid, but only because Trump likes those things too. Beyond that, their actions have been diametrically opposed to their supposed beliefs.
So now it’s all hypocrisy, all the time. To the point where the word itself has lost its power to piss us off.
We watch the pompous posturing of a Mitch McConnell or a Lindsey Graham or anyone on Fox News, and the nonstop barrage of hypocrisy just wears us down. It’s so in-your-face, we’ve become desensitized to it. There’s only so much outrage a person can muster in a day.
Call it “hypocrisy fatigue.” The feeling that every word out of their mouths is hypocritical, and that’s not even the worst thing about them. What’s the use of calling them out for hypocrisy, when there’s lethal criminality in plain sight?
So against this backdrop, how are we to consider Joe Biden’s current problem? A 27-year-old incident of alleged sexual misconduct that could conceivably take him down. Leaving us where? I don’t even want to think about it.
To be sure, the allegations are factually murky. As of this writing, the story seems to be fading, but that could change by the time you read this. Or something else equally stomach-churning could surface.
So it’s not so much about whether Biden did it. It’s about what if he did? Can we come to terms with our own hypocrisy in the face of the existential threat of a Trump re-election?
The questions slap us around. Would a 27-year-old incident of sexual misconduct be an automatic disqualifier for the presidency? Would it be mitigated at all by Biden’s performance on women’s issues in the 27 years since? Would it be mitigated by the fact that a known sexual predator currently occupies the White House, doing damage that makes sexual predation seem almost an afterthought? Would it be mitigated by a cataclysmic pandemic that’s being criminally mismanaged in real time?
Wait, there’s more. Do the new #MeToo standards apply only to Democrats? Must we lose an Al Franken but accept a Brett Kavanaugh, just because our moral compass works better than theirs? Do Republicans currently enjoy a license to molest, unencumbered by either moral or legal strictures?
I don’t have the answers. But the questions themselves leave a bad smell. As Ruth Marcus put it last week in the Washington Post, “Ensuring that Trump does not enjoy another four years in office may be enough to justify egregious hypocrisy, but it would be hypocrisy, nonetheless.”
Can we live with that? Personally, I’m inclined to give Biden a pass. But only because — and it pains me to say it — the ends justify the hypocrisy.
Or, as one podcast host said recently, “Joe Biden could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and I’d still vote for him.”

Comments

  1. I'm not sure (since my hypocrisy meter blew a fuse) if it's different in Biden's case that there's no "narrative" of harassment issues lurking in the shadows. We need to be full-throated behind Biden. (Though will always be a bit bruised - or more - over Anita Hill.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm still pissed off about Anita Hill. Then I weigh that against all things Jared Kushner, for example. I end up thinking Biden might be a better idea.

      Delete
    2. No "mights" about it in my book . . . . unquestionably Biden is a better deal, despite all flaws and weaknesses . . .

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Merrick Garland is Living in Mitch McConnell’s Head

Last week, Mitch McConnell voted to confirm Merrick Garland as Attorney General. Twenty Republicans actually crossed the aisle to do the same, an amazing thing in this day and age. But without Mitch, it would’ve been just one more Kamala tie-breaker. The speculation is that this was Mitch’s way of telling Garland — and Joe Biden — that stealing that Supreme Court seat in 2016 was nothing personal. And it wasn’t. I have no doubt Mitch would have tanked anyone Obama nominated. Anything to further vandalize that administration. Garland just happened to be there. But while Mitch surely thinks, in his own head, that it was nothing personal, he knows Joe Biden holds no such illusions. Because when Mitch sabotaged the Garland nomination, he blew a hole through history, full stop. And for Biden that was personal. He was there, in the White House. It’s nothing new that the obstruction of that fifth reasonable voice on the bench was a major disaster, and it only got worse when Trump drew

Four Takeaways from the First Fifty Days

In just fifty days, Joe Biden has taken plenty of us — including me — by surprise. He is clearly rising to the occasion, displaying skills few knew he had. He has learned the trick of under-promising and over-delivering, and when he makes a promise, he knows ahead of time that it’s a sure thing. He also has an apparent gift for delegating the right jobs to the right people. He lets them do their thing while he gives them cover, benignly hovering above the fray. So far, it’s working. Let’s hear it for old white guys with something left in the tank. So the fifty-day mark seems a good time to step back and make a few observations, not so much about Biden, as because of him. Boring but Radical It was Ted Cruz, of all people, who nailed it, albeit unintentionally. In a tweet last week he proclaimed Joe Biden “boring but radical.” He was being nasty, of course, because nasty is all he knows. But to me, it was validation. After four years of total batshit craziness, it turns out b

A Peek Under the Hood at the Koch Agenda

It’s hard to feel sorry for a guy like Kyle McKenzie. Knowing he’s the research director for Stand Together, an advocacy group owned by the Koch family, I’m not inclined to sympathy. But as a former advertising guy, who once sat through too many focus groups to count, I know well how consumer research can undo the best-laid plans. In McKenzie’s case, the plans were to figure out how the Kochs should handle HR1 — the massive voting rights bill now reaching the Senate — where they are once again on the wrong side of history. McKenzie was charged with finding ways to undermine any positive perceptions the public might harbor about making it easy for people to vote. What they were looking for was a message — any message — that might convince the public that the right to vote is overrated. We know this thanks to the amazing Jane Mayer of The New Yorker . Somehow, she obtained this eye-opening audio of a ten-minute conference call, in which McKenzie presents his research findings to