Bob Franken: The depths of hipocrisy

  • By Bob Franken
  • Saturday, April 12, 2014 2:24pm
  • Opinion

Doctors have their Hippocratic tradition. Meanwhile, I’d like to suggest that those in and around politics consider taking a Hypocritic oath. They don’t, of course, but if there was one, it would begin like this: “First, don’t get caught” doing whatever it is about which you are holier-than-thou.

A recent Quinnipiac poll bears this out. While getting nailed as an officeholder for a bribery scandal or adultery is awful enough, “Voters have less tolerance … for hypocrisy,” says Quinnipiac. If the crusader who got elected as a government-reform type is shown to have his hands in the till, he probably can start looking for other employment opportunities. As for the one who presents himself as a stalwart protector of morality and who is then found with his pants down, usually he’s a goner — not always, but he’s certainly in deep doo-doo.

It’s too early to tell whether Louisiana Republican Congressman Vance McAllister can survive after a local newspaper got hold of video that showed him playing serious kissy-face with a staffer in his district office. What makes this so huge is that McAllister loudly advertised himself as the defender of “family values,” as seen through the eyes of his fellow social conservatives. He’s apologized to everyone, including his wife and kids. What else could he do? Oh yeah, he fired the staffer. Party leaders in his state immediately demanded McAllister pack it in, even though in Louisiana, it sometimes seems like this sort of thing is a requirement for public office. Laissez les bon temps rouler and all that stuff.

Hypocrisy about letting the good times roll is not the only sin. Many corporations whose executives have fought against Obamacare have been plenty willing to accept subsidies in the Affordable Care Act to insure their early retirees. That would include Koch Industries, headed by (you’ve got it) the notorious Koch brothers, who are spending millions upon millions of dollars trying to elect candidates who will repeal (again, you’ve got it) the Affordable Care Act and do their bidding whenever and however they want.

And to be bipartisan about this, the Democrats are trying really hard to hammer Republicans on women’s issues. While the GOP does a good job of hammering itself, what with candidates who sometimes say things that make misogynists look enlightened, their opponents are trying very hard to press their advantage.

Hence the ceremony in the White House with a very visible President Barack Obama making a big show of taking executive actions aimed at improving the disparity in wages between genders. The figure we usually see is that female employees make only 77 percent of that paid to their male counterparts. That percentage is debatable, but whatever the disparity, it is unconscionable.

Here’s the problem, though. The gap exists inside that very same White House. According to the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, the average salary for men on the president’s staff last year was $73,729; women, $65,000. A variety of reasons was given, but they’re all the same ones we hear from businesses who oppose legislation that would address the issue.

Democrats were out get to exploit some campaign gain. Republicans in the Senate, every one of them, played right into their hands by blocking a bill that would further the cause of pay equality. So the Democrats didn’t get what they said they wanted, but they got what they wanted.

Before we get too sanctimonious about that game playing, let’s look at ourselves. How many of us go “NIMBY” even as we bemoan the plight of our least fortunate? When someone wants to put a facility for them in our neighborhood, we scream “Not In My Backyard!” How many of us demand that some pay higher taxes … someone else.

As for the public officials, we won’t be seeing them take any Hypocritic oath, publicly pledging not to commit the very sins they condemn. But even if they did, they’d break their promise. They are politicians, after all.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

More in Opinion

A resident casts their vote in the regular municipal election Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020 at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Alaska Voices: Break the cycle of failure, debt in 2022

Today, all Americans are coerced, embarrassed or otherwise influenced into one of two old political parties

A sign designates a vote center during the recent municipal election. The center offered a spot for voters to drop off ballots or fill a ballot out in person. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The failure of mail-in voting

The argument that mail-in balloting increases voter participation never impressed me

Charlie Franz.
Point of View: Election integrity is not anti-democratic

The federalization of elections by the Freedom to Vote Act infringes on the constitutional right of states to regulate elections.

Snow blows off Mt. Roberts high above the Thane avalanche chute, where an avalanche blew across the road during a major snowstorm. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
An Alaska winter of discontent

It’s been a hard winter throughout the state.

A Uncruise Adventures cruise ship, with a fleet of kayaks in the water behind it, in the Tongass National Forest. Uncruise, a boutique local cruise ship operator, has been vocal about the importance of the intact Tongass National Forest, or SeaBank, to its business. (Photo by Ben Hamilton/courtesy Salmon State)
Alaska Voices: The dividends paid by Southeast Alaska’s ‘Seabank’ are the state’s untold secrets

Southeast Alaska’s natural capital produces economic outputs from the seafood and visitor products industries worth several billion dollars a year

Opinion: The pulse of fealty

Let’s be honest. Trump’s demands go beyond his one stated condition.

Former Gov. Frank Murkowski speaks on a range of subjects during an interview with the Juneau Empire in May 2019. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Alaska Voices: Permanent fund integrity in peril?

Alaskans need to be kept informed of what the trustees are doing with their money.

A cast member holds up a cue card in Soldotna High School’s production of "Annie" on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Is theater dead?

“It will not be an easy task, performing CPR on this theater, but imagine the joy that you could bring to the students.”

Bjørn Olson (Photo provided)
Point of View: Homer Drawdown moves forward with climate-change solutions

Two years ago, a small group of concerned citizens decided to use this book as a guiding document

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21 in Kenai, Alaska.
Voices of the Peninsula: Fight for democracy

When the Insurrection occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, it was a direct attack on our democratic rule of law.

Former Alaska legislator and gubernatorial candidate Les Gara is seen in this undated photo. (courtesy photo)
Alaska’s great oil giveway

We can do better than giving away billions in oil company subsidies