Jonah Goldberg On The “Moralizing” Left

Cross-posted from the Sister Toldjah blog.

In light of the Larry Craig scandal and the schadenfreude the far left has been expressing over his downfall, Jonah Goldberg has a must-read piece up today in which he writes about the left and how they have no room to talk about hypocrisy as it relates to moralizing:

But the left has another solution. Under its system, you can still be a moralizer. You can still tell people what to do and how to live. And, best of all, you can still fall short of your ideals personally while guiltlessly trying to use government to impose your moral vision on others. All you have to do is become a liberal moralizer.

Once you become a liberal, you can wax eloquent on the glories of the public schools while sending your kids to private school. You can wax prolix about the greedy rich while making a fortune on the side. You can even use the government to impose your values willy-nilly, from racial quotas and confiscatory tax rates to draconian environmental policies and sex-ed for grade-schoolers – all of which will paid for in part by people who disagree with you.

You don’t even have to give up traditional religion, so long as you now define the teachings of your faith in perfect compliance with the Democratic platform.

Why, just look at John Kerry. In 2004, the Democratic nominee repeatedly insisted that his religious faith is “why I fight against poverty. That’s why I fight to clean up the environment and protect this earth. That’s why I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith.” Great! But when it comes to, say, abortion, consulting one’s faith is a no-no: “What is an article of faith for me is not something that I can legislate on somebody who doesn’t share that article of faith.”

So I guess under a Kerry administration, America’s civil rights and economic and environmental policies would all be voluntary?

The point is simply this: Hypocrisy is bad, sure. But it’s a human failing that should fall upon the individual in question. What the left wants to do is use hypocrisy as a cudgel to declare that conservative ideals are categorically illegitimate because some conservatives fail to live up to them. But we all fail to live up to our ideals sometimes (just ask John Edwards, who wants get rid of everyone’s SUV, save the one in his driveway). That’s sort of why we call them “ideals.” Most of us don’t fall as far as Larry Craig seems to have fallen, but that’s not necessarily an indictment of his arguments, it’s an indictment of the man.

Exactly. But I’d go one step further. In the case of John Edwards (and other global warming hypocrites like him, Al Gore, of course comes to mind), pointing out their hypocrisy is essential to the overall argument, because in their cases their alarmist rhetoric about global warming that there is supposedly a ‘consensus’ on so-called ‘man-made global warming’ doesn’t square with the fact that there is no consensus on the bottom line root causes of global warming. Yet they preach to thousands of people the ‘value’ of ‘sacrificing’ in order to try and save the earth ‘while we still can’ while at the same time turning right around openly living a lifestyle that they frown and chide others for doing, which is a strong indicator that they really don’t believe in all the gw mumbo-jumbo they give speech after speech about. They’re just talking about it because it’s fashionable in progressive circles to do so, and not only that, but they can make money off of it, too. A double bonus.

Also, while the assertion that global warming is ‘man-made’ is indeed highly debatable, the assertion that living a moral lifestyle is immensely beneficial for you emotionally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually is not debatable. You’ll never hear a serious-minded lefty actually argue against that. Now, they’ll say that someone’s lifestyle choices are their own business, and that the government’s role is to essentially protect people from themselves (as they often do with “free” condom giveaways, and “needle-exhcange” programs) but you’ll never hear a top-tier lefty like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama argue that living a moral lifestyle is not beneficial to you in the ways I mentioned. It’s because they know if they try, it’ll sound like they got their talking points straight out of the 60s “free love movement” hippie manual. (read more in the extended entry)So, yes, while Goldberg has a great point on the fact that just because someone is a hypocrite doesn’t necessarily make the message wrong, I’d say it also depends on that message. Sometimes the message and the man are wrong, which in that case makes perfect sense to go after both.

Of course with the left, as I’ve said before, when it comes to preaching about morals, that’s a subject that makes them uncomfortable, because when you essentially have a platform that doesn’t emphasize traditional morals (and by that I’m not just talking about morals in the sexual sense, but as part of an overall ability to be able to clearly distinguish right from wrong, knowing when not to cross the line, understanding that it’s important to do right by your fellow man, and, if you are a believer, important to ultimately do right by God), then it’s pretty easy to advocate whatever you want because you’ve defined your own set of “morals” (Goldberg mentioned how Kerry did that in 2004) and run with them. In essence, you’ve ‘redefined’ morals, and as we all know, the left is infamous for redefining terms to suit their agenda. Terms like “marriage” and “sex.”

Back in March, when the left was all over Cpl. Matt Sanchez and his alleged “hyocrisy” for starring in gay porn flicks as a liberal 15 years ago, even though he know decries the lifestyle and is a conservative, I wrote the following on the whole issue of the left and hypocrisy, which I believe is worth repeating again today:

Think about the institutions that are under attack the most by today’s left: the family, the church, the education system, and the military. In all of them, you have the left routinely trying to change the definition and standards of each.

With the family, the left wants to convince you that a marriage doesn’t have to consist of a man and a woman, it’s ok if it’s two men or two women, or for that matter multiple men AND women. Not only that, but the rad feminist movement continues to push the belief that a father is not needed in order to raise an emotionally healthy and stable child and that casual sex shouldn’t be condemned. The prevailing attitude among feminists is that it should be just as ‘acceptable’ for women to have multiple sex partners over a period of time as it is for men, reinforcing the (bad) idea amongst young women that the standards of morality society expects from women shouldn’t stay where they are but should instead be lowered to what society expects of promiscuous men.

With the church, it’s now popular in ‘progressive’ religious circles to push the false idea that homosexuality is not a sin to the point where gay clergymen and women are now becoming more and more acceptable and I don’t have to explain what the spiritual dangers of starting to redefine sins are.

With education, young students have been told for far too long that you don’t actually have to win to be a winner – all you have to do is try – which has had disastrous consequences at the college level. On top of that, we routinely hear of instances in schools across the country where the standards bar is lowered in order for ‘more students’ to ‘succeed’ rather than keeping that bar high, and pushing those students to rise above that bar. We also see this in the workplace when in some instances requirements for an entry level position for a job are lowered in order to ‘help’ a ‘minority’ obtain the position.

The military is an obvious target for the left for many of the reasons mentioned above, because the military demands high standards of strength both mentally and physically, leadership skills, the ability to take criticism, and a willingness to succeed. These are standards that some people cannot meet, so the military is constantly being criticized by the usual suspects for setting the bar too high and ‘discriminating’ against those who can’t meet the requirements.

Had Matt Sanchez still been doing what he was 15 years ago, the left would be defending his ‘right’ to do it, saying their is nothing wrong with it, and if he’d taken on the establishment right as he did the moonbat lefties at Columbia U, he’d be celebrated and looked upon as a Y2K+ version of porn king Larry Flynt, who was a big time hero to the left during the Clinton years. But Sanchez isn’t doing that anymore. In fact, he categorically rejects it and condemns it. He pulled himself out of a low point in his life and has done things to better it, and for that he gets labelled a ‘hypocrite.’ Any other time to the left, this would be pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps story worth a movie deal but in this instance it’s not, because Sanchez has done three things the left can’t and won’t tolerate: 1) he rejected liberalism, 2) he dared to question and battle militant anti-war leftists at the university he attends, and 3) he joined the military. For all of that, his past personal life – which he rejects today – gets exposed in a cheap, disgusting attempt by the left to render the message of standards and values pointless. We’ve seen them do it everytime a preacher falls from grace, we saw them do it when Bill Bennett, who is famous in conservative circles for embracing and writing/talking about the values which made this country great, fell from grace after it was discovered that he had a gambling problem.

The left does not cotton at all to anyone who promotes good values and standards. That is the real reason they target people like Bill Bennett and Matt Sanchez, not because of the hypocrisy, but because they’d rather try to shame those who do talk about those values and standards into not doing so. Talking about values and standards makes the left uncomfortable, because they know that there will always be people in society who ‘don’t measure up’ and as a result, they believe that life is not fair to those people. Because of that, they either want to lower the bar or stop the debate altogether. That way we’d all be in the same boat, with the standards of achievement lowered and the values crowd shamed into silence. The left is fully aware that no one on this earth is perfect, and that there will always be a skeleton in someone’s closet they can use against them in an attempt to silence that person’s advocation of getting back to the basics of what’s good and decent. If the left had it their way, parents themselves wouldn’t ever try to teach values and morals to their kids because (gasp!) parents have skeletons in their closets too, or may one day.

Larry Craig, and other fallen-from-grace conservatives (such as Senator Vitter), have cast dark clouds (to use a Craig term) onto the message conservatives routinely preach about living a moral lifestyle, but what they haven’t done is destroy that message. The only way it can be destroyed is for frustrated conservatives to give in and concede to the left that the battle over living a moral lifestyle is not worth fighting, because there are supposedly too many hypocrites out there who don’t practice what they preach. Unfortunately, there will be more Senator Vitters and Craigs out there, who talk the talk about the sanctity of marriage (among other things) but behind the scenes don’t always walk the walk. That doesn’t mean that the message is wrong, just that the deliverer of that message is just as fallible as the rest of us.

For everytime this happens, the left will again try to shoot the message down in flames by destroying the messenger (who, in some cases, goes a long way towards destroying himself). Conservatives, even those who are battle-weary, must not be dettered by hypocrisy within their own movement, nor the gloating, chuckling, and faux-moralizing the usual suspects do in response to the hypocrisy. Because the sanctity of both life and marriage, making sure people have clear definitions of what’s right and wrong, knowing what’s honorable and dishonorable from a traditional standpoint rather than a morally relativistic one, understanding when we should act as a nation in our best interests in the face of growing threats and when we shouldn’t – are essential principles that are well-worth fighting for.

As a side note to all this, I’ve noticed some arguments in the leftosphere that talk about how Larry Craig was ‘forced’ into hiding his ‘gayness’ because he’s a Republican and it would be frowned on conservative circles. They cite Mark Foley as an example, which is absurd, because in neither case – Foley’s nor Craig’s – have Republicans come down on them for being gay. They’ve come down on them for doing things that are considered by decent people to be highly inappropriate: Foley for his highly suggestive instant messages with underaged pages, and Craig for soliciting for sex in a public restroom, and pleading guilty to a related charge in an attempt to avoid a scandal. I wonder if any of these ‘enlightened’ individuals ever thought about the possiblity that gay Republicans try to avoid coming out of the closet not so much because they’re Republican, but more so because of the cries of “traitor!” they’ll face from radical members of the gay community, the overwhelming majority of which happens to be liberals, as well as the pseudo-moralists on the left who excoriate gay Republicans for inappropriate behavior the left would claim – if they happened to a Democrat – were that Democrat’s “private business”?


The latest news on Craig? “Sources” are claiming that Craig is “likely to resign soon.” Memeorandum has links galore to this story, and more as it relates to the continuing contoversy surrounding the embattled Idaho Senator.

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