Saturday, April 28, 2007

Axis of hypocrites

Few politicians fully live up to the noble sentiments they preach. But the gap between the rhetoric and reality has grown particularly wide in the US Republican party.

First we had Bill Bennett pontificating about the 'death of outrage' until his multi-million gambling losses were uncovered. Then Ted Haggard, the bloviating evangelist preacher fulminating against homosexuals like himself.

The latest hypocrite to be exposed is the deputy undersecretary of State for insisting that public health measures to prevent AIDS be based on abstinence rather than condoms which have proved vastly more effective. And of course he is busy paying prostitutes $300 for a 'massage'.

This last piece of hypocrisy is not a minor one. Millions of people are dying of AIDS and the US policy of promoting the least effective response is causing real harm. Pandering to the votes of the religious right takes priority over people's lives.

These are not isolated incidents. We still don't know how Dan Gannon got into the White House press briefings but Ockham's razor suggest that one of his customers as a male prostitute was responsible. We do know that Cunningham and Ney took multi-million dollar bribes and that they were not the only ones on the take.

The root cause here is a failure of the Washington Press corps, not because they did not discover these peccadilloes earlier but because they reported the obvious hypocrisy that preceded them as news. The beltway elite journalist would much rather report on morality than policy, it is so much easier to do. Writing a piece that explains the consequences of various proposals to change social security to a general audience is difficult. Reporting the bloviating of a Bill Bennett preaching a morality he does not live is so much easier.

It is also much easier to preach morality if you are a hypocrite than the genuine article.

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