Law-Abiding Hypocrites

Let’s wring our hands, because some Democrats are using the same laws Karl Rove used in 2010 to create their own giant anonymous PAC full of corporate money:

The effort is modeled on the one Republicans started last year — with help from the Republican strategist Karl Rove — that attacked Democrats with a barrage of advertisements, mailings and phone calls. It was widely credited with helping the party to take control of the House and diminish the Democrats’ edge in the Senate last fall. One of those groups, Crossroads GPS, was set up under a section of the tax code that allowed its donors to remain anonymous, leading Mr. Obama to refer to such groups collectively as “a threat to democracy” for the way they had shielded corporate interests from view as they sought to sway elections.

[…]Republicans seized on the formation of the group and its connections to the White House via Mr. Burton and the other co-founder of the groups, Sean Sweeney, a onetime deputy to the former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, as an example of hypocrisy.

This is the same kind of “hypocrisy” that Gregg Easterbrook wanked about last week:

If Obama is in earnest about wanting increased taxes on the wealthy, then he should send the United States Treasury $182,998. That’s the difference between his Form 1040 Line 60 (“This is your total tax”) and what he would have owed at the higher rate (plus limits on itemized deductions) he himself advocates.

Politicians are always advocating for what–in their view–is a better law, while following the current law. That’s just the way the system works. But the press is always ready to dream up, or re-print without comment, variations on the theme of calling someone a hypocrite for following a law they think ought to be changed. While I’ll admit that this does happen to both sides, it happens more often for Democrats, because they’re usually trying to strengthen existing law rather than weakening it.






35 replies
  1. 1
    Winston Smith says:

    Hey, let’s hold a gun-fight and then when the anti-gun people show up, we’ll cajole them for not bringing knives!

    Sadly, if those anti-gun people are Democrats, they’ll go, “Mercy me! I am out of line here. Sorry!” Then they’ll drop their guns and brandish knives.

    Probably butter knives.

  2. 2
    debit says:

    In the same vein, I saw a headline (didn’t click on it) about a judge ordering an investigation now into the “Edwards sex tapes”. Because a married man having an affair is investigation and news worthy, which is why the headlines are just full of the same thing happening to John Ensign.

    ETA: Er, Winston Smith, I don’t think cajole works in the context you provided. Unless you mean “to coax or persuade in a flattering manner”?

  3. 3
    russell says:

    The fastest way to win Republican support for increased disclosure of campaign contributions is to kick their sorry asses from here to Timbuktu with great big piles of lovely money, raised anonymously.

    Let them eat their own shit sandwich, and they won’t want it on the menu anymore.

  4. 4
    JPL says:

    Wow, A check from the Obama’s would solve all the deficit problems! I didn’t know it was that easy.

  5. 5
    Jonas says:

    This supposed hypocrisy is also something that certain liberal groups love. See David Mitchell on the idiocy: http://www.guardian.co.uk/comm.....sborne-tax

  6. 6

    Welllllll, . . . .

    I love Obama but I can understand the charges of hypocrisy. Sauce for the goose and all that. If it is wrong for the Republicans then it’s wrong for the Democrats.

    Should the Dems refuse to take money anonymously? Dunno.

    [I don’t think Obama started this effort. He should be held accountable only for his reaction to it.]

  7. 7

    I tried to edit hyprocacy to change it to hypocrisy but failed. Oh well.

  8. 8
    superluminR droid says:

    I just think charges of hypocrisy should be banished from public life. It’s such a poor argument it needs to be extinguished.

  9. 9
    Culture of Truth says:

    If Obama is in earnest about wanting increased taxes on the wealthy, then he should send the United States Treasury $182,998

    Sweet Jesus, that’s fucking stupid.

  10. 10
    Winston Smith says:

    @debit: Thanks, debit, I never knew that “cajole” indicated flattery.

  11. 11
    superluminR droid says:

    @Linda
    No, the correct response here is to note that in the abstract, anonymous corporate donations are wrong, but whilst they remain legal and your opponents are willing to use them, you should fight back.

  12. 12

    superluminR:

    You may be right.

    Are we talking about a significant amount of money here?

  13. 13

    You can play the game as the rules allow and try to win, or you can play the game as you think the rules should allow and get your ass kicked.

    The Supreme Court changed the rules of the game. For the Democrats to not play by those rules is a recipe for constant defeat. Acknowledging that the rules have changed and adapting to the new reality isn’t hypocrisy. Hypocrisy would be Republicans now screaming about taking unlimited anonymous donations.

    Unfortunately, to go back to the old rules, we’d probably have to amend the Constitution to deny political personhood to corporations. Otherwise, no matter what laws get passed, Johnny and the Supremes will overturn them.

  14. 14
    Joe Bauers says:

    The Democrats should take every anonymous dollar they can get their hands on until it becomes illegal to do so, even as they press to make it illegal. It’s hard enough to beat Republicans, as tapped in as they are to the raw id of Real Merkins, without typing your own hands behind your back.

  15. 15
    Forsetti says:

    It is not hypocritical to play by the rules while complaining that the rules are unjust, unfair, outright wrong, etc. For Democrats to sit back and maintain the “moral high ground” by not taking huge amounts of legal corporate money while the Republicans do might sound great but it is pragmatically stupid. As things stand right now, elections usually go to the people who can raise the most money in order to get the most exposure. To allow Republicans a huge upper hand in fund raising and potential election victories for the “moral high ground” is sheer stupidity. If you actually believe that this type of fund raising is unethical and the laws need to change, the only way to accomplish this is through getting elected and passing said laws. Can’t do that from the “moral high ground”.

    With regard to Obama paying higher taxes, Culture of Truth @#9 hit it right on the nose.

  16. 16
    malraux says:

    Does this mean that if I want nationalized medicine, I should just forward all medical bills to congress?

  17. 17
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Jonas: Nice op-ed.

  18. 18
    Stefan says:

    Republicans seized on the formation of the group and its connections to the White House via Mr. Burton and the other co-founder of the groups, Sean Sweeney, a onetime deputy to the former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, as an example of hypocrisy.

    “Hey, we said we were going to fight hand-to-hand, and sure, we pulled a knife we’d hidden and started stabbing you. But now you get your own knife and start stabbing back? I thought you complained when we started stabbing you? Hypocrite! Hypocrite!”

  19. 19
    RSA says:

    But the press is always ready to dream up, or re-print without comment, variations on the theme of calling someone a hypocrite for following a law they think ought to be changed. While I’ll admit that this does happen to both sides, it happens more often for Democrats, because they’re usually trying to strengthen existing law rather than weakening it.

    When I was feeling intemperate during the Bush years, I’d sometimes want to say to his supporters, “If you think invading Iraq is such a good idea, why haven’t you enlisted?” The “hypocrisy” accusation applies to more than just following laws.

  20. 20
    RalfW says:

    This one’s easy. Give to the unregulated groups till it hurts. The only reason Rove is crying about it is because he knows the danger of Democrats actually using the tactic.

    And the only to get it reformed is if we “go nuclear.” I say push the button. In fact, where’s that contribute button? The unregulated, soft-money, one?? I’m ready. But I need to change my BJ alias, don’t I, if I’m gonna be all anonymousy?

  21. 21
    RalfW says:

    And just for poetic justice, Obama should give $182,998 to the anonymous fund.

  22. 22
    Superluminar says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Are we talking about a significant amount of money here?

    I’m not sure if the amount is all that relevant.

  23. 23
    evinfuilt says:

    I think Newt and Trump and …..

    Should return to their first wives ifvthey want to really be pro-family.

    What!? They’ve never been told that by the press, guess the press are the true hypocrites. You pay your taxes and forma PAC with the laws you have, not the laws you want.

  24. 24
    OzoneR says:

    This is like saying Democrats shouldn’t take a gun to a gun fight because they support gun control.

    Which is deliciously ironic after so many on the left complain they don’t fight back.

    Your principles don’t mean jack shit to anyone unless you win.

  25. 25
    The Swiss Army Knife of Visual Effects says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    Are we talking about a significant amount of money here?

    Have you been living under a rock? You’ve never heard of the Supreme Court’s Cititzen’s United decision? The republicans raised hundreds of millions of dollars from anonymous corporate and private individuals in the last election. It had a massive effect on the last election. All that “outrage” last year at the democrats, all the teabagger demonstrations, all those tv ads, were paid for by anonymous, limitless money.

    Thanks to the Supreme Court, this is now the law of the land. It is idiotic to say, “Oh, we should stay pure of heart and poor and let the Republicans raise all the dirty money they want.” Who cares if we win elections if our hearts are pure, amirite?

    It is especially idiotic to take to heart criticism about hypocrisy and underhandedness from Karl Rove. Gosh, Karl Rove says we shouldn’t do as he does!

  26. 26
    evinfuilt says:

    @Joe Bauers:

    The only worry I have is how much all this money will corrupt the dems, enough of it and they’ll not only not want to change the law, but will no longer even be recognizable as the Democratic party.

    But without the money,they’re screwed.

  27. 27
    Joe Bauers says:

    @evinfuilt:

    That’s a really depressing thought. The team that’s 80% corrupt has to become 100% corrupt or be marginalized even further by the team that’s already 100% corrupt.

    Final stage of empire, pitchforks and torches, etc.

  28. 28
    The Swiss Army Knife of Visual Effects says:

    @RalfW:

    This one’s easy. Give to the unregulated groups till it hurts. The only reason Rove is crying about it is because he knows the danger of Democrats actually using the tactic….And the only to get it reformed is if we “go nuclear.” I say push the button.

    This. A thousand times this. The only way to get the Repukes on board with writing legislation that will counter this horrendous decision is if Citizen’s United bites them in the ass.

    @OzoneR:

    Your principles don’t mean jack shit to anyone unless you win.

    This, also, too.

    Back in the eighties the clerical workers at Harvard went on strike. Harvard told them they should be satisfied with their low wages, because, after all, they had all the prestige that came from working at Harvard. The bumper sticker that was all over Cambridge that year read: “You can’t eat prestige.”

    And purity trolling doesn’t win elections.

  29. 29
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Didn’t equivalent election funding posturing happen under Clinton? i.e. the Democrats wanted to change the funding laws, Redoublechins refused, then screamed and bitched and cried and moaned and pooed their unmentionables when the Democrats went ahead and followed the existing law?

  30. 30
    grandpajohn says:

    @OzoneR: In other words
    Moral victories don’t win wars

  31. 31
    honus says:

    I don’t know how Easterbrook gets to 182,000 in additional tax. By my math, the Obamas would pay about an extra 75,000 if the top marginal rate was raised by 5%. The other 105,000 is an awful lot of itemized deductions disallowed. But I’m sure a winger couldn’t make a math mistake or use a false assumption when trying to make even a stupid point.

  32. 32
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Winston Smith:

    Thanks, debit, I never knew that “cajole” indicated flattery.

    You may have been thinking of the similar-sounding “cudgel.”

  33. 33
    Wiesman says:

    I realize this thread is almost dead by now, but…

    Any time a conservative tries to argue about this kind of “hypocrisy” you can respond with this:

    “Are you planning on taking Social Security benefits when you are able? Do you plan on enrolling in Medicare when you are able? Do you use any government program that you think should be cut?”

    It’s the same logical argument. Unfortunately, it won’t help you win the argument because it requires that they understand logic.

  34. 34
    mclaren says:

    How about we spend a year doing nothing but repealing stupid pointless counterproductive laws?

    How about that?

  35. 35
    Sandy D says:

    This sort of calling out of people who advocate change in a law while living by the law as it is happens much more often – lately – to Republicans. People criticize Republicans for accepting farm subsidies, or accepting social security payments, while simultaneously advocating stopping government spending. This doesn’t strike as ipso facto hypocrisy (sometimes it is, depending on specifics), because if they are complaining that their taxes are too high because of these programs, of course they are going to want to bleed the programs of every cent they can while the programs are functioning.

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