Partisan Hypocrisy

Partisan Hypocrisy February 6, 2020

Partisan: (adj.) Exhibiting strong and sometimes blind adherence to a particular party, faction, cause or person. 

Hypocrisy: (n.) The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.

Members of many types of groups exhibit partisan hypocrisy; political parties, religious organizations, and many other special interest groups. The recent impeachment investigation and trial were a vivid example of this. The Democrat-controlled House conducted a hearing that has been labeled “unfair” by Republicans and “fair” by Democrats. In the Republican-controlled Senate, a narrow, partisan majority voted to block witnesses, which some, but not all, Republicans applaud, while Democrats, and a majority of the American people, condemn. They especially want to hear what Bolton has to say.

Needless to say, there is partisan hypocrisy (hereafter PH) on both sides, and the media have amplified it, especially Fox, Breitbart and other right-wing sources.

If you look back at the Clinton impeachment it was quite a different story. The shoe was on the other foot, with Republicans attacking and Democrats defending the President. But both the House and the Senate had sizeable Republican majorities…and still they voted to acquit Clinton. Of course, the case was quite different. Clinton’s flagrant affairs were stupid, and demeaning to the office of the President, but they did not involve corrupt efforts to involve foreign nations in our election process. One of the charges raised against Clinton was “abuse of power,” the primary charge against Trump. But the heavily Republican majority in the House rejected that by a large margin…285 – 148. They also rejected a finding of lying under oath, even during the civil deposition of Paula Jones — by a 229-205 vote.  No PH there. But that was over twenty years ago, and the Republican party has changed a lot since then.

Think about this: What if Clinton, not Trump, were being impeached right now by a Congress with the sizeable Republican majorities that it had back in 1998? Do you think they would have acquitted Clinton?

Let’s take a side road for a minute: Consider the issue of government spending and federal budget deficits. Republicans of forty or fifty years ago called themselves Conservatives, primarily because of their belief in limited government, responsible spending and balanced budgets. They labeled Democrats “tax and spend liberals.” And then, along came Ronald Reagan, who ran the biggest budget deficits in our history up to that time. His successor, G.H.W. Bush quickly surpassed Reagan’s record, and his son carried it to new heights. Since then Democratic administrations have consistently run smaller deficits than their opponents. Clinton, the whipping boy of Republicans, actually had budget surpluses for four of his eight years, and only small deficits in the other four. And yet, Republicans still call Democrats the big spenders. PH indeed.

Back to the impeachment. David Berstein, writing in Reason magazine, says that the House managers botched the hearings by limiting them to just the Ukraine mess and obstruction of justice.

“I was listening to NPR in my car today and heard one of the House managers make the case that I thought the Democrats should have made all along–that Trump’s Ukrainian mess was not a one-off, but part of a very troubling pattern of behavior by the president that renders him unfit to hold office. This includes everything from insulting a gold star mother to asking Russia to hack Hillary’s emails to constant lies and deceptions, and so on.”

He goes on to say that he has “…come to the conclusion that impeachment should be reserved for presidents who are not just incorrigible in misbehaving, but incorrigible in ways that Congress can’t easily control through normal checks and balances. There is a good case to be made that this describes Trump.”

He concludes with the following:

“Let’s say I were a Senator voting my conscience, and I believed the following: (1) Trump’s conduct is “impeachable”; (2) I wouldn’t normally vote to convict on the level of misbehavior alleged in the articles of impeachment, especially in the absence of strong public support for it; and (3) allegations and evidence not put forward by the House persuade me that Trump is unfit to be president. Should I vote to convict?”

The impeachment process is not a legal process. It is a political process. If a Senator knows of any evidence, whether it was presented or not, that makes Trump unfit to be President, then his oath of office requires him to vote to convict, whether the public support is there or not.  Unless, of course, he allows PH to override his oath and dictate his actions.

The only remaining real Republican in the Congress agrees. In a statement to the New York Times, he said:

“I believe that attempting to corrupt an election to maintain power is about as egregious an assault on the Constitution as can be made. And for that reason, it is a high crime and misdemeanor, and I have no choice under the oath that I took but to express that conclusion.”

—Mitt Romney

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