February 17, 2005

Gannon: Left Shoots Itself In Foot

I'm not a big fan of what is going on with the Jeff Gannon story. I've been a regular on daily kos and saw the first diary come up that wanted to explore the story, and saw all the following revelations about his personal history.

I know that most people on the left agree that if not for the hypocrisy, focusing on Gannon's backstory would just be a witch hunt. The defense for publicizing it so loudly is the illustration of the GOP's hypocrisy. The story is, the GOP is about immorality of sex, prostitution, and homosexuality, and then here they have this reporter that contradicts all of that.

But that's where the problem is. Crowing about the GOP's hypocrisy doesn't really hurt the GOP. And the left already knows the GOP is fueled by hypocrisy. So this really serves no purpose - it's just a form of political self-pleasure for the left.

Why doesn't it hurt the GOP, really? Well, there are a few reasons. The big reason is the "We're All Sinners" phenomenon. If someone sins, it is their nature. They use their religion to absolve them of their sins. Rinse, repeat.

What this means is that for many folks on the right, especially the religious right, there's a common separation between action and ideal.

We on the left call that separation "hypocrisy". But that concept just doesn't apply to them. Their value system is completely compatible with their actions not following their ideals.

Why the double standard? From the right's perspective, when we sin, since we are not with God, we don't get absolved of the sin. So they decry us. And from their perspective, it isn't inconsistent at all. The reason it is inconsistent from the left's perspective is that so many of us reject out-of-hand the notion of a basically corrupt nature that we can only rise above with the help of God. They, on the other hand, have a relationship with Jesus Christ to help absolve their sins. They have their faith to see them through their trials.

This pattern isn't just restricted to religious thought, either. The same dynamics can be transferred to the "Good Old Boy" network of Republican politics. They fight for their ideals, but if their actions don't line up, then well, that's just life. What's important is the ideal, because they believe that it is their ideals, and not their actions, that fuel their power.

So let's break it down. The GOP shouts out ideals that liberals find repugnant. The GOP then acts in a way inconsistent with those ideals. The left exposes the action, and screams hypocrisy. The right just shrugs about the hypocrisy, because the concept just simply doesn't apply to them. It's just an action, their ideals are still pure. But they find the publicity unseemly, much in the same way we would in reverse. The cries of hypocrisy do nothing to convert people on the right. It's not even cognitive dissonance - their value system is quite comfortable reconciling a split between ideal and action.

And for the swing voter, they are caught (as usual) between two models. On the one hand, they are vaguely uncomfortable with hypocrisy. On the other hand, they don't like the witch hunt. So they're reduced to just feeling cynical about the whole thing.

Focusing on the personal life - even to expose hypocrisy - is not worth the effort, in my opinion. Yes, it revs up the more indignant among us on the left. But it also more deeply entrenches negative stereotypes the right has of us. To me, the tiebreaker is that talking about the personal life is just time and words not spent on talking about Bush's propaganda efforts.

Posted by Curt at February 17, 2005 01:27 PM

I think you're missing the point on Gannon. And it's the main point most lefty's are making.

The personal life stuff isn't the issue. It's the idea that the White House gave hard press credentials to a guy that wasn't using his real name in an effort to have a plant in the press corp. This plant was to lob softball questions to Scott McClellan in an effort to turn press questioning away from tough questions and frame questions easily for McClellan.

Some people are focusing on the personal stuff for Gannon. But most of what I'm hearing on the Left is wanting to know how this guy got credentials and why he was planted.

An pattern of media manipulation is being exposed here...with Armstrong Williams and other columnists who were paid..now adding Gannon to that list.

Posted by: carla at February 17, 2005 02:03 PM

Oh, I agree. I just think the other focus on the sex and hypocrisy does more to undermine that discussion than contribute to it.

Posted by: tunesmith at February 17, 2005 02:35 PM
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