Erik Larson

Feb 18, 2009

That's (not) Hypocrisy!

David Shuster on MSNBC’s 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue regularly has a segment on hypocrisy, typically devoted to highlighting anything unflattering about Republicans. (Hey, who ever said cable news was real journalism?). Today he points out that Republicans like Eric Cantor originally attacked the stimulus bill for not adequately addressing the housing downturn; now after the latest (how many more billion?) housing legislation, he’s declared that we can’t afford it, and opposes it. “That’s hypocrisy!” Shuster exclaims, the satisfying tagline to the ever-entertaining Hypocrisy Watch on 1600.

If anyone cares, it’s not hypocrisy, by any definition I’m familiar with. It’s perhaps opportunism, and certainly it’s prima facie inconsistent, but if it’s hypocrisy, Cantor needs not just to change his mind, but to profess something publically while doing something at odds with his words privately. Espousing, at different times, two public views that taken together seem inconsistent is not hypocrisy. But then, real hypocrisy is revealed typically only in scandals, and for programs that air five days a week, who’s got the time to wait for those?