Fighting political hypocrisy

Jim Geraghty of National Review Online tackles the argument that “the other guys did it, too, only worse!”

Did (or does) Fox News operate in a “frat-house atmosphere,” even while pitching itself as the network of choice for those who prefer traditional cultural values? Do the Democratic party and Hollywood effectively let the rich and famous purchase indulgences with large donations? Is Congress mostly a collection of insecure middle-aged men eager to leverage their powerful position for sexual attention from younger females? Those are uncomfortable questions for anyone who cares about politics and wants to believe it is something more than an amoral snake pit. …

… Recent history suggests that the willingness to defend a scandal-tarred politician — and thus a scandal-tarred politician’s ability to survive — largely depends upon his rank and importance to the party. President Bill Clinton survived the Lewinsky scandal in his second term; had he been a mere congressman, he probably would not have remained in office. Donald Trump survived the Access Hollywood tape because he was the GOP nominee and there was no easy way for horrified Republicans to replace him.

It’s not just political expediency that feeds the reluctance to condemn misbehavior in one’s own party, though. It’s the psychic cost of admitting that your party isn’t as righteous as you thought. Harvey Weinstein disrupts the flattering story Democrats tell themselves, that they are the party that respects women, that stands up to abuses of power, and that is uniquely attuned to remedying the injustices of the world. The ugly portrait of Weinstein looks a little too similar to the repugnant chapters of Bill Clinton’s life, with their threats and payoffs and relentless sense of entitlement. The stories of Hollywood’s quiet complicity sounds a little too similar to the portrait of the Clinton Foundation as a glamorous but deeply corrupt “favor factory.”

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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