The Honor of Leftists and Conservatives
The political news is filled with three personal scandal stories: Anthony Weiner is resigning because of his lying; John Edwards has been indicted, basically for lying; and the jury is still out (literally) in the trial of Rod Blagojevich for lying. Can anyone connect the dots of the broader political story? Here are some more hints: name the American president who -- see the video -- looked angrily into the camera and said: "I want you to listen to me. I'm not going to say this again. I did not have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anyone to lie, not a single time, never." Another president -- see the video -- says his father served in the Second World War (although he was a seven-year-old boy in Kenya at the time).
A certain vice president invents a story about his wife being killed by a drunk driver, as Thomas Lifson has pointed out here and claims as his own brilliant rhetoric a speech written by British politician Neil Kinnock. Another vice president speaks of lullabies of "Look for the Union Label," a song written when he was twenty-seven, and he claims to have severed ties with tobacco companies after his sister died in 1984, when he continued to receive speaking fees and voting on behalf of tobacco, in fact bragging about that to tobacco growers in 1988. Another vice presidential candidate -- of the same political party! -- lies to his wife dying of cancer, induces an aide to lie about fathering his child, and puts together a string of lies which Darrell West of the Brookings Institute calls "one of the worst strings of candidate deception in recent memory."
A certain presidential candidate tells America that he recalls being in Cambodia over Christmas 1968, when Richard Nixon was president. This matters because his service in Vietnam was the centerpiece of his credentials for higher office and because, as he puts it, this episode was "seared into my memory." Then it turns out that his boat mates, including his friends, all say that he was never in Cambodia and historians point out that Nixon was not president in 1968.
A Speaker of the House insists that the CIA had not briefed her on enhanced interrogation techniques, until sheepish members of her own party point out that is a, well, lie. A New York governor who wages relentless war against anyone he suspects or accuses of lying, lies himself as he also engages in sex with a young prostitute as well.
All Democrats -- all leftist Democrats too. But the personal ethics extend beyond even lying. Spitzer frequented prostitutes. Blagojevich tried, blatantly, to sell a Senate seat. Clinton did not just have affairs; he is credibly accused of molesting many women and, perhaps, violently raping Juanita Broadrick. John Edwards was having a sleazy affair while his wife battled breast cancer, something contemptible almost beyond words.
All of above are Democrats, of course, but more than that they are leftists as well. Compare the really creepy trio of Weiner, Edwards, and Blagojevich with the six Republicans who just participated in the New Hampshire Debates (forget, please, for the moment politics, and think only of personal honor). Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Michelle Bachmann, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum have never been accused of adultery or perjury or any personal misconduct like that.
All of them have been happily married to the same spouse. Michele Bachmann and her husband have raised many foster children (the contrast with John Edwards denying his own child is telling). Mr. and Mrs. Santorum have such a principled Pro-Life stand that they have had two children with very serious health problems, one of whom, Gabriel, died. Like Sarah Palin and her husband with Trig, these people walk the walk about the sanctity of life. Rick Perry, another who may jump in the race, is an Eagle Scout and retired veteran, married to the same spouse and not connected with any personal scandals at all.
The single Republican with personal problems is Newt, who had an affair while married, and his campaign is going nowhere fast. Comparing the sexual misconduct of Democrats with Republicans is simply stunning: George H.W. Bush, Dan Quayle, Bob Dole, Jack Kemp, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John McCain, Sarah Palin, and all the six major announced Republican candidates have been free of even the hint of marital infidelity.
Moreover, none of these fourteen Republicans -- fifteen, if you want to count Rick Perry -- has told the sort of juvenile lies that Clinton did or Kerry did or Gore did or Biden did or Edwards did. Why? Conservatives do not propound the quasi-totalitarian notion that lying can simply be the means to a worthwhile goal. We believe, instead, that how we live our lives is itself the end. Government is a necessary evil and not a noble end. That means sins are very real. Adultery, for example, is not okay unless you get caught nor are babies blessings only when convenient.
A good society is constructed only on a foundation of honorable people obeying a Blessed Creator. This does not mean we do not sin; we know all too well that we sin. Bush had a serious drinking problem, which he licked. McCain called the failure of his marriage the greatest failure of his life. Leftists, however, do not just sin, but lie about sinning and corral others to lie for them. The left believes lying is okay and sin is a "private matter." That is why Blago, Edwards, and Weiner are all in the news these days and why the six Republicans in New Hampshire recently will never face those problems.
Bruce Walker is the author of a new book: Poor Lenin's Almanac: Perverse Leftists Proverbs for Modern Life.