Is it really that bad?
Well, yes. It is pretty bad. However misuse of it is just about as bad.
So, the friendly and 99% boring governor of South Carolina has been in the news a few weeks ago. He was having an affair. Earlier he'd attacked Clinton for his affairs. That makes him a hypocrite, right? Right.
But so what? Does him being a hypocrite negate his attacks on Clinton? Him being a hypocrite does not make Clinton's affairs no have happened or does it makes his affairs okay. The hypocrisy is an entirely separate issue, so your opinion on Clinton's conduct should be entirely independent of the hypocrisy of his accusers (he had many hypocritical accusers).
On the other hand, the hypocrisy should influence the perception of Sanford. If he simply had an affair then that's not good, but different people have different standards and who am I to judge? However his previous attacks on Clinton set a standard of affairs being bad, a standard which he then violated.
Or to give this a more recent context, let's look at the conflicts over health care reform. There is a huge outcry and some people are being very uncivilized, threatening their representatives and even the president. Many in favor of reform are calling them out on this and claiming that the opposition is noisy but small, or influenced by the health care industry, or perhaps just stupid. In response there are people pointing out that Democrats were hardly nice to Bush. Let's pretend for a moment that the situations are at all similar. This leads to an obvious result: Democrats were roudy, Republicans say Democrats can't criticize since they did it too. There's hypocrisy on both sides, but it does not eliminate the legitimacy of the call on both sides for more civility.
On the subject of health care debate, I want to point out two statements I heard recently.
-We don't want socialism like Russia.
Russia is not socialist and has been nothing socialist-like for almost two decades. When it was part of the Soviet Union it was not socialist either, it was a collapsing empire, which started somewhat poorly and was then absolute ruined by Stalin. It is hardly an example of socialism. Want better examples? Look at Sweden or Cuba: one is pretty good, the other not so much. There's the ultimate lesson: you can't just say an idea works or doesn't, the specific nation matters a great deal.
- Hitler would have liked this plan, he was a socialist.
Well sure, he was a member of the National Socialist party. It was originally a German socialist party, and not a particularly successful one. When Hitler took it over he pretty much eliminated any focus on socialism, instead focusing on the nationalism and actually pursued a strong anti-Communist agenda.
- So how about in honor of the American soldier, ya quit making things up?
Thank you. Oh wait...
-The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil
On a lighter note.