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Consistent Inconsistency

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Inconsistency and hypocrisy have long been staples of the campaign trail.  This year’s campaign is no different, Chris Satullo observes in his Centre Square commentary.

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For someone buffeted by waves of ridicule, Christine O’Donnell acquitted herself pretty well in the Senate debate last Wednesday.

She stuck in a few good debating points, and was no more incoherent than many candidates I’ve heard this depressing election season.

Fact is, intellectual inconsistency is a trademark of both parties.  Liberals and conservatives alike are all over the map on fundamental values such as liberty and responsibility. It all depends on whose ox is getting gored.

In my experience, the only folks who hew consistently to a philosophy are libertarians. I admire their rigor – even as I wince at some of the places it takes them.

In the debate, O’Donnell did get tangled up in a classic contradiction.  While arguing that her messy personal finances gave her populist street cred, she tweaked her opponent, Chris Coons, for being a trust fund baby.

A few minutes later she said anyone who didn’t want to get rid of the inheritance tax – or, as she called it, “the death tax” – was a Marxist.

Ms. O’Donnell, where do you think trust funds come from?  Not the tooth fairy.  They result from rich people leaving money to their kids. Which you apparently support.

But inconsistency is a bipartisan trait.

Someone once summed up the difference between conservatives and liberals this way: Conservatives don’t care what you do with your money as long as they can control what you do in the bedroom. And liberals don’t care what you do in the bedroom as long as they can control what you do with your money.

Speaking of sex, remember the great liberal hypocrisy of 1997?  After pounding home a message against sexual harassment with slogans such as “What part of no don’t you understand?” and “It’s not about sex, it’s about power,” feminists went all quiet when the boss messing around with his intern was named William Jefferson Clinton.

Journalists aren’t immune either.   I have plenty of colleagues who are absolutists about First Amendment freedom of the press, no matter who gets hurt.  Yet that Second Amendment stuff about the right to bear arms? Forget it.

Hey, I’m sure my fevered utterances over the years have been littered with inconsistencies. We humans are, if nothing else, walking contradictions.

That’s the point. None of us is perfectly consistent.  Sure, flaming hypocrisy does deserve to be called out.  But before we blast the inconsistencies of others, we perhaps ought to spend a little more time noticing our own.


  • Betty Ann says:

    Monica was a fully consenting adult to her relationship with Bill. Don’t re-write history to make it look like she was a poor victim.

  • Gary says:

    I strongly disagree your statement that inconsistency is bipartisan. While you may find examples in both parties, one party is clearly much more excessive in their inconsistencies & hypocrisies. In fact, it seems to be their campaign strategy. You really do your own cause a disservice to paint both parties with the same brush. It’s the same type of coverage that has given legitimacy to the hypocrites.
    I remember the great hypocrisy of 1997, and it was not a liberal hypocrisy. I recall universal condemnation of Clinton actions, from all sides. I recall excessive spending of taxpayer’s money to investigate him and one party trying to exploit the issue for political gain. I recall that many of his loudest critics, we later found out, were involved in their own illicit affairs. Clinton was no longer running for office, and his discretions were hardly a reason to vote for people running for other offices whose views you disagree with.

  • Paul Simons says:

    I’m on a break here at work so please understand that this is just a light comment mainly to give me something else to think about for a few minutes.

    I have to say that about feminist silence on the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair, it seems the “power differential” didn’t apply – she appeared more than willing, not coerced, perhaps even the initiator. So no comment is necessary, except to roundly condemn Linda Tripp, Ken Starr, and the rest of the hypocrites who basically framed President Clinton.

    About that transposition of what liberals and conservatives do and don’t care about – it looks to me like conservatives want to control both personal beliefs and behaviors and individual and societal monetary affairs, while liberals would leave all to the individuals involved. To me, privatizing Social Security is funneling some peoples’ money to other peoples’ accounts – conservatives “care” about both groups, but in different ways. And nobody needs to say anything about criminalizing what goes on between consenting adults, except to say that hypocrites (see above) are alive and well and in the news on just about a weekly basis.

  • Ken says:

    Interesting article. For information on what world Libertarians are doing, please see http://www.Libertarian-International.org

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