By Joe Duffus
“Do as I say, not as I do.” Is there a more annoying statement in the world?
We are all hypocrites at times, but none of us does it for a living the way a politician does. It can seem like it is part of their job description, and we don’t notice it so much when they’re on our “team.”
So, when the subject in Washington is raising the debt ceiling, Senate Democrats would prefer you didn’t remember 2004 and 2006 when every one of them voted against raising the debt ceiling, including NY Senator Charles Schumer and Delaware’s own Sen. Joe Biden. But a Republican president was doing the asking then. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, President Joe Biden savages the Republicans for voting against raising the debt ceiling, calling them “reckless and dangerous” for opposing his request.
On today’s episode of The DrillDown, Peter Schweizer and Eric Eggers talk about hypocrisy, but with a bit of a twist. Peter says that liberals are better at it than conservatives. But he means is that when liberals are hypocritical, it usually makes their own life better. When conservatives violate their own principles and do the opposite of what they “say,” they make their own lives worse.
So, take for example a few liberal national politicians, like Biden, California governor Gavin Newsom, and San Francisco mayor London Breed. They have both enforced mask mandates on Americans under their authority to deal with the COVID pandemic. Yet just this week Biden was photographed coming out of a Georgetown restaurant with no mask in sight. Newsom violated his own quarantine orders to go to a fancy, unmasked dinner at the famous French Laundry restaurant, and Mayor Breed explained away her maskless partying in a crowded bar by saying she was “feeling the spirit.” Do as they say, not as they do.
And pay as they say, not as they do. Back in 2008 Joe Biden was all for higher taxes, telling Good Morning America, “It’s time to be patriotic… time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut.” Once he was out of office, though, private citizen Joe Biden routed about $13 million of his income and post-vice presidency speaking fees to a series of S corporations in 2017 and 2018 in a scheme that saved him about $500,000 in taxes. The Congressional Research Service looked into this and reported this was “improper.”
But maybe hypocrisy is underrated? Notice that in all, three cases, being hypocritical made these politicians’ lives better, or more comfortable, or just more fun.
In Congress, the famous members of “The Squad” have pushed the idea of defunding the police, but collectively those five very liberal members of Congress spent nearly $100,000 on private security for themselves in the third quarter of this year, according to campaign records just reviewed by Fox News. Fewer police for the rest of us, but they will be protected by hired tough guys, paid for by their campaigns.
It is hard to fault them for these choices, which make their lives better. It is easier, and accurate, to accuse them of being hypocrites because their principles are something even they can’t follow.
In most of his books, Peter Schweizer has made hypocrisy a leitmotif. He even wrote one book specifically on this subject, called “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” that was full of examples of left-wing political and cultural figures who say one thing and do the opposite, like Michael Moore owning stock in General Motors. But he has learned that “when you abandon certain ideas, it improves your life. And when you abandon other principles, your life gets worse.”
The idea came home to him during an interview he did some years ago with the late radio commentator Rush Limbaugh. Rush was famously anti-drug but had himself struggled with addiction to oxycontin he was given after an operation. Rush told Peter, “If I had been true to my principles, I would have been better off.” An abandoned idea made Rush’s life a hell of addiction and denial.
When they choose to be hypocritical, liberals often make their lives better. When conservatives do, their life gets worse. “It’s a good lens to look at whether the ideas are good or bad.” Which make your life better, following them or abandoning them?
So, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came out in favor of protecting unionized, yellow cab drivers in New York City against emerging competition from Uber, maybe it should not have been a surprise that her campaign spent more than $4,000 on Uber rides for her? Those Uber rides were more convenient and faster than hailing a cab the old-fashioned way.
Peter quotes a French philosopher who famously said, “hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue.” He was referring to the shame that most people experience when they do something at odds with their stated beliefs.
But maybe there’s a better one to emphasize the point here: “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Ralph Waldo Emerson understood that sometimes principles can get in the way of a better life.
Most people remember the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Kennedy believed – and often said – that estate taxes should be 50%. Yet when his father died and left a $300 million estate, the Kennedy family paid a tax rate on their inheritance of just 0.04% on that transfer of wealth. It made his life better to protect his principal, not his principles.