As I sit in the Boston Logan airport, I have a lot of things on my mind. But the one thing that keeps bubbling to the surface is all of the hypocrisy I witnessed this week. Before I start, I want to establish something about myself politically: I don't consider myself a member of any of the parties in the American political process. I disagree at a very fundamental level with absolutely every party out there. I also have some strong agreements with both of the political parties that actually mean anything (Democrats and Republicans), but partisan politics and its rhetoric leave me cold. My comments here are as an interested outsider.
Being in Boston this week, I was in the front row to see a cynical display of hypocrisy in how the state is going to deal with the death of Ted Kennedy. Eight years ago, when they had a Republican governor and one of their senators, John Kerry, was running for vice-president, they amended the state (commonwealth) constitution to say that only the people should be allowed to pick his replacement. Now, with a Democratic governor, their strong belief in democracy has evaporated. It is fine to let the governor appoint a replacement. The Massachussetts "Democratic" party is acting pretty authoritarian. And then, our president is weighing in, telling the Boston state legislature that they should violate the state constitution and allow the appointment. I hate seeing such blatant hypocrisy in the Oval Office. Then there is the media, who have said nearly nothing about this travesty. I guarantee that had the former president done something similar, the mainstream media would be having a heyday.
Another interesting example was how a congressman, known for his inflating of issues and stretching the truth beyond the limits of polite assumption that he might be mistaken, had the temerity to yell out, "You lie!" while the President was making his speech. Just on principle, no politician should ever use that phrase--it reeks of hypocrisy.
But then, the speech that he was heckling had that same stench about it, too. While castigating the opposition for fear mongering and inflating claims, Mr. Obama talked of how, without his plan people would die and we would never get out of our economic downturn. If the congressman's outburst would have come then, I would have had to agree with him. Watch your rhetoric, Mr. President, you are guilty of what you are saying you will "call them out" for.
Elsewhere in the same speech, our President said the words that indicated he wanted this to be a bi-partisan effort, but at the same time, those of us who have studied rhetoric saw that he was sowing the seeds of dissension and division. He was very careful to blame the entire deficit on the Bush administration. While I agree that the excesses of the last 20 years have led us here, there is no one administration that must shoulder all of the blame. Bush did not bail out AIG and the auto industry, Bush did not change the financing rules that led to the housing crash. Nor did he cause the "dot-com" meltdown of 7 years ago that made all the budget numbers from the 90s disappear. By indicating that it was all Bush's fault, President Obama has ensured that the debate in Congress will be sharply divided on party lines.
The last piece of hypocrisy I saw this week was on a site that I use to share favorite web sites with my friends. It is called StumbleUpon. I shared my previous blog entry here, "Taxes Will Be the Death of Us", over there, to let people know how I saw the big economic picture. In that post, I called the Obama-Pelosi push to spend us into prosperity as I see it: malarky being spouted by people who don't understand basic economics. I have had 2 people over there decide they don't want to be my friend because I am not respectful enough of the Presidency. What is interesting is that both of those people have several very disrespectful comments about former-President Bush. And not of his statements or positions, but of the man himself, as a human being. Such reactions are not just hypocritical, they show a fundamental lack of understanding of how our political system and, indeed, polite society work. I can disagree with a position. I do not have to respect a position that is based upon ignorance or misinformation. But I do have to (morally and ethically) respect the persons who hold those positions. It is probably good that those "friends" decided to unfriend me, they don't seem to want to learn the basics of polite society. Again the hypocrisy astounded me.
8 years ago