Friday, April 21, 2006

Do As I Say (Not as I Do) : Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy

That's the title of a recent book by author Peter Schweizer of the Hoover Institution. I'll save my own judgement for after I read it, but here's a detailed review you can read now. Excerpt:

Schweizer looks at a number of contemporary icons of the American left, with an eye to detecting hypocrisy. Among his subjects are Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Al Franken, Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Ralph Nader, Nancy Pelosi, George Soros, Barbra Streisand, Gloria Steinem, and Cornel West. He finds in each case a private life markedly at variance with the public persona.

Now, one has to be careful when playing the ad hominem game. A person's intellectual claims are not disproved by his bad character. Commendably, Schweizer doesn't attempt to discredit these pestiferous statists by looking for sexual peccadilloes or substance abuse issues. Instead, he focuses on their financial lives, which seem to me fairer game. To hear John Kerry bash the "rich" for not paying their fair share in taxes, and then to find out that he and his wife (worth $700 million) pay less than 15% of their own income in taxes, or to hear Katrina vanden Heuval denounce efforts to end the inheritance tax, and then discover that she herself is a multimillionaire heiress, is to face a serious question. Granted, as a matter of logic, that their hypocrisy doesn't disprove the principles they espouse, still, which principle should the listener adopt, the one espoused or the one embodied in the speaker's life?

It's also wise to remember that hypocrisy exists on both sides of the political isle. But it seems to me that the MSM tends to magnify incidents on the right while ignoring or glossing over those on the left, leaving it up to the "vast, right-wing conspiracy" of blogs, talk radio, and independent journalists to pick up the slack.

Big hat tip to one of my favorite blogs, Samizdata, for the link and info.

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