I don’t know how many times a week I see a story and think, “Man, if this had been a Democrat, the press would have roasted the guy alive.” But yet, it always seems to be no big deal when a Republican does it. I don’t believe any one of the things I am thinking about are any more or less egregious than any of the others. They all just point out what a double standard we have in this country about the behavior of Republicans and Democrats.
John Edwards gets a haircut that costs $400, and the press has a field day for weeks. Admittedly, for someone running as a populist, it was an incredibly dumb thing for Edwards to do. The common man doesn’t have 400 bucks to lay out for a haircut, or even much of anything else. Politics, in these days of the extremely short attention span and 30-second sound bite, is almost 100% perception. He should know how that is going to look if the story ever gets out. But yet, we have the not-yet-in-the-race but apparently the second coming of Ronald Reagan, Fred Thompson, who is also running as “the common guy”. He is “real”, according to all the pundits, which I guess means, “not artificial”. But yet, it is rather common knowledge that, during his campaigning for the Senate, he would go rent or borrow an old red pickup truck that he would drive to the political rallies. And he wouldn’t even get into it until he was ready to go to the rally. Yet, do you hear any of the mainstream press making an issue about that, or laughing in their sleeves about how much of a wanker it makes Thompson look? No. Or, an even better comparison might be when Condelezza Rice was off buying $1000 worth of shoes during the height of the Katrina disaster. Where was the media outrage about that?
And that’s just the small stuff. This double standard also applies to the big stuff as well. Scooter Libby, in the eyes of many on the left, is not a felon convicted of lying to the FBI and a Grand Jury on several occasions, as well as obstructing justice. No, he is a hero and a sacrificial lamb. He is a “good guy”, so he doesn’t deserve to go to jail. Breaking the law when you are a Republican doesn’t seem to matter much. Yes, many of the mainstream press are carrying the story straight up. However, many others are parroting the conservative noise machine’s line. If a Democrat had been caught doing this and some people were agitating for a pardon from Bill Clinton because of ridiculous arguments that the law someone doesn’t apply in this case, the press would have gone absolutely bananas.
Here’s another good one (via Talking Points Memo). Dick Cheney has come up with the theory that the Office of the Vice President (OVP) is somehow NOT associated with the Executive Branch of the government. Therefore, the OVP does not have to comply with many of the edicts that the Bush White House is actually complying with, or at least saying they are attempting to comply with, like archiving records and e-mails. They (meaning Dick Cheney and David Addington) have come up with some Byzantine explanation that they belong to BOTH the Executive and Legislative, so anything that the Constitution of the United States says in the context of EITHER doesn’t apply to them. How about that? We have a working monarchy in this country, in the form of the VICE PRESIDENT! Not Bush, but the VP. How bizarre is this argument? Yet, there is it. If Al Gore had made that argument while the VP under Bill Clinton, the nation’s press would have gone berserk. Yet, while this is getting some moderate play in the press of late, it is nowhere near the high-pitched screeching that would have occurred for a Democrat.
I cannot really understand what is exactly driving this double standard. Yes, many of the companies that own media outlets, such as television networks and newspapers, are owned by bigger conglomerates that are rather beholden to the Republican party. They really aren’t going to push the “Republicans are looking like hypocritical crooks” meme. That would be a “biting the hand that feeds you” sort of thing. I think there is something more involved.
I wish I were really trained in psychology and sociology. There are some underlying dynamics going on here. I wish I were insightful enough to really write something down that would really explain this. I would be lucky if I could even put something down that turned out halfway coherent. But really.... What is up with the press and a large percentage of the population in this country? Why is it quite acceptable to let one party to act the way it does, and yet go ballastic when another does something dumb, yet, but nowhere near the magnitude or importance of the other party's transgressions?