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.

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