Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Hypocrite Hall of Fame

I admit it. Writing about hypocrisy is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. Sins of a hypocritical nature have been with us since we began as a species. The Bible records that Lot (Abraham's nephew) , a reasonably good man in his own right, nevertheless "pitched his tent toward Sodom", probably in an effort to get better TV reception of the racy programs of those pre-cable days. In other words, we're not really talking about anything new here.
Still, the news this week brings notice of a level of hypocrisy only achievable in New York, where Governor Eliot Spitzer (former state Attorney General!) is resigning his office over the discovery of his practice of hiring some very expensive female companions. Money laundering may be involved as well. If the Governor didn't think he'd ever be caught, then it's a sad commentary on American Society as a whole. Maybe it's also true that love (or lust) makes you stupid. Too bad. From the Democratic view, he's a person who "coulda been a contenda" for even higher office.
As I say, hypocrisy is as old and as common as humanity. But a few individuals take the level of their sins to a point which makes them eligible for the (unfortunately non-existent) Hypocrite Hall of Fame. Here are a few other nominees. For the purpose of making this piece shorter, let's just concentrate on American sinners of the past few years:
Senator David Vitter - Outspoken Republican from the swingin' state of Louisiana who's a champion of chidren and women, but also a sometime client of a Washington-based madame. He's still in office.
Mark Foley - Former well-connected GOP Florida congressman, a champion of the House's teenage pages. Turns out he was fond of the pages in the wrong way, and is no longer in Congress, though higher-up House Republicans were sorry to see him and his rich donors go.
Rev. Ted Haggard - A candidate for the religious wing of the Hall of Fame, he was exposed as gay even while decrying the sin as being against biblical principles. He's still in rehab.
Senator Larry Craig - Republican of Idaho, Senator Craig had strong words opposing everything ever attempted by Bill Clinton. He pled guilty to what amounts to soliciting gay sex in a Minneapolis airport mens' room. He's serving out his term.
Rudy Giuliani - Rudy was never much of a family guy. He's on his third marriage and has children who emphatically declined to support him in his run for the GOP presidential nomination. Nevertheless, he had the Rev. Pat Robertson's endorsement.
Newt Gingerich - Big opponent of Bill Clinton on moral grounds. Former Speaker of the House. Dumped his first wife while she was still in the hospital following cancer surgery. Dumped wife #2 as well.
John McCain - The GOP presumptive nominee for president. Dumped wife #1 (who had waited for his release from a North Vietnamese prison) after she suffered injury in a traffic accident. Married the current younger and much richer Mrs. McCain ONE month later.

No party, not surprisingly, has a monopoly here. But if forced to name one individual as The King of hypocrisy, my nod would go to the late Senator Strom Thurmond, Republican of South Carolina. The Senator, as a member of different parties, opposed every piece of legislation designed to help the lives of black Americans during a career of elected office that went about 70 years. He lived to age 100, finally passing away earlier this decade. His crowning piece of hypocrisy was that he had fathered, by a domestic household servant, an illegitimate black daughter as a young man, a woman who lived a modest, though contributing life as a teacher. She only made known her status after Thurmond's passing. She was by then in her seventies.


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