Sunday, July 10, 2005


The Hypocrite Effect

Once, when I was a teacher, I attended a lecture by a prominent child psychiatrist. At one point in the lecture, he drew two circles on the chalkboard, one above the other and quite far apart. On the top one he wrote "IDEAL SELF," and on the bottom one he wrote "REAL SELF."

"The closer together those two circles are for a teenager, the happier she will be. The further apart they are, the more miserable she will be."

The diagram has come back to haunt me as a political metaphor many times. Left-wingers, it seems, are people whose two circles aren't very far apart. Their morals are realistic and practical, but much less high-minded than those of right-wingers. The latter have very high morals, but their two circles are badly separated. The result of this is the Hypocrite Effect.

You know, like the Republican Congressman (I forget his name, and I don't particularly want to be reminded of it) who was spearheading the campaign to get Bill Clinton impeached over Monica Lewinsky--until it was disclosed that he had had numerous extra-marital affairs himself. Like Rush "Big Fat Idiot" Limbaugh, who routinely excoriated narcotics addicts on his Deplorable Demagogue Radio Hour--until it was revealed he was one himself. Like iconic nigger-hater Strom Thurmond, who, it transpired, has a black daughter because he was boinking the black maid back when he was a randy young hypocrite. Like oh-so-Christian House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who turns out to have his clammy hand constantly in everybody else's cookie jar. Like Bill Bennett, who actually wrote books on virtue before it was revealed that he had gambled away eight million dollars. I'd go on, but I'd never get to sleep.

I'd love to know how many gay Republican Congressmen there are. (More than a few, at least according to gay Democratic Congressmen.) Or how many staunch pro-lifers have either paid for or had abortions. (One of the as-yet unexamined scandals of George W. Bush is that he paid for a young lady friend's abortion when he was younger. This was all set to make the news when the woman who was ready to blow the whistle--the best friend of the abortion recipient--became suddenly and inexplicably very wealthy. Go figure!)

Conservatives have high standards, high morals, and uncompromising ideals. Which regularly leads to spectacular falls from grace, because their actual behavior is nowhere near so high-flyin'. That's the hypocrite effect.

Anyway, it certainly looks like we're about to be treated to another of these regular flareups of conservative hypocrisy. This time it might finally be Karl Rove's turn. Of course, anybody with half a brain has known for a long time that Rove was behind the illegal and reprehensible outing of Valerie Plame; it had his fingerprints all over it. How he's going to dodge any sort of accountability for it--and how Georgie-boy will dodge accountability for claiming he knew nothing and had ordered his staff to ferret out the truth--will be entertaining, if in a particularly cynical, debasing way.

Ready...get set....

The Quotidian Meander

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