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What Else Is In Scott's Head?

The blog site for writer Scott C. Smith. Some observations on the world we live in and life in general. And maybe some politics.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Conservative Double Standards

If you listen to enough conservative pundits -- and, by extension, conservative columnists and conservative bloggers -- you'll begin to notice they all say the same things. Sometimes using the same exact words as other pundits. Such is the power of talking points. Talking points are usually a single-page document with suggestions of themes and topics that conservatives should talk about if they're on, say, Hannity and Colmes. Liberals also get talking points. As this blog is more interested in what conservatives say and do, you can turn to the conservative bloggers (they're out there, in droves) and get their perspective.

On Feb. 2, George W. Bush delivered his State of the Union address (scroll down to my Feb. 2 entry if you want to read the transcript and my reaction to the speech). When Bush reached the point where he started to talk about Social Security, he was greeted with loud boos. Following the State of the Union, the pundits where all aghast at the Democrats: how dare they boo President Bush! The bastards! Ad naseum. Also, some of the pundits suggested that no one had ever booed a president during a State of the Union address. Some reactions:

Ted Koppel, ABC News, on Nightline, Feb. 2: "When the president talked about the bankruptcy of Social Security, there were clearly some Democrats on the floor who thought that that was taking it too far. And they did something that, apparently, no one at this table (former Bush adviser Mary Matalin, former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein, and former Clinton speechwriter Michael Waldmanhas ever heard before. They booed."

Joe Scarborough, MSNBC, on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Feb. 2: "After the Democrats booed and hissed, Republicans were on the floor saying, you know, we never once did that to Clinton. So every time he would talk about Social Security, the roars got a little louder. And they got behind their president."

Former Rep. Bob Barr, CNN, on Inside Edition, Feb. 3: "It will be a very, very difficult battle as we saw by the unprecedented and, I think, highly improper virtual booing of the president when he simply said that the system is going to be bankrupt and the time is now to fix it."

So, listening to the pundits, you'd come away thinking Republicans never resorted to disrespectful behavior during a Bill Clinton State of the Union address. You'd be wrong.

From Roll Call, Jan. 29, 1998: "As Democrats cheered President Clinton Tuesday night and most Republicans maintained decorum despite allegations of misconduct swirling around him, signs of impending trouble were visible in the faces of three California Republicans: John Doolittle, Richard Pombo, and Frank Riggs. Sitting in the far right of the chamber, the three staunch conservatives refused to join in the bipartisan ovation for First Lady Hillary Clinton. When the President entered the chamber, Pombo didn't turn to acknowledge him. As the entire audience dutifully rose to its feet for President Clinton, the three Republicans remained glued to their seats." Rep. Dana Rohrbacher showed his disdain for the president by pretending to clap. "I want to be courteous, but that doesn't mean supportive," Rohrbacher said.

Or this, from the Washington Times, Jan. 29, 1998, quoting Amy Ridenour of the the National Center for Public Policy Research: "And, although this has scarcely been mentioned by the national press, about half of the congressional Republicans didn't show up at all. A member of Congress attending the speech counted members, and found about half of the Republicans absent from the speech. Another Republican member of Congress reported: 'I went for two minutes, to demonstrate respect for the office of the president. Then I left.'"

This from the Los Angeles Times, Jan. 5, 1997: "Only once did they unmistakably and collectively show their disapproval -- when Clinton spoke disparagingly of a GOP-sponsored constitutional amendment to balance the budget. Many Republicans hissed and some booed."

See? Everyone acts the same. Republicans, for some reason, refuse to acknowledge that they behave in the same ways they accuse Democrats of behaving. Listening to Sean Hannity, you'd never think that anyone had ever criticized the President of the United States until George W. Bush took office. Of course, looking through transcripts from Hannity and Colmes quickly shows that Hannity frequently criticized Bill Clinton, and did so when we had troops in harms way. And there you have it, the Republican double-standard: point out the moral failings of Democrats, but never acknowledge the moral failings within your own party. Bill Clinton has an affair: Republicans criticize Clinton's lack of morals. Newt Gingrich has an affair: Republicans criticize Clinton's lack of morals.

Ah, the circle of life, as it goes round and round.

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