Michelle Cottle observes that while liberals flame on and on about “hypocritical” acts by conservatives (Henry Hyde’s “youthful indiscretions,” Rush Limbaugh’s drug addition, William Bennett’s gambling habit, Jack Ryan’s taste for kinky sex clubs, and now Dick Cheney’s naughty language), conservatives themselves don’t seem particularly bothered by it.
I’ll agree that this focus on hypocrisy is a bad rhetorical strategy for liberals, but there is one area where conservatives perceive, and mercilessly lampoon, liberal hypocrisy: wealth. If you read all the snark about how rich Kerry and his wife are, or if you recall the outrage over Hillary Clinton making a killing in the commodities market, you’d think that it’s some kind of disgrace for a liberal to have large quantities of money. (I assume they consider this wealth to be some kind of hypocrisy, rather than a bad thing in and of itself; our Vice-President didn’t exactly spend the last twenty years as a Franciscan monk, and his fellow Republicans don’t hold his career against him.)
But where’s the hypocrisy? Mere possession of wealth has never been a sin among liberals. Lefties have offered a number of justifications for raising the income taxes paid by the rich, but as far as I know, “let’s punish these guys for having so much money” has never been one of them. Heck, having money isn’t even a sin among Marxists—the literate ones, at least. Karl and Fred did not see the struggle of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie as a battle of Good versus Evil, but as the natural conclusion of an amoral historical process.
Let the record show that if the good Lord sees fit to challenge me with great wealth, I will cheerfully pay every penny of tax that I owe, donate heaps of money to people who probably want my taxes to be even higher, and use whatever is left over to splurge on a bigger house, vacations on Cape Cod, a nice set of china and silverware, tasteful dress clothes, and whatever other creature comforts would not make my Yankee forebears blush. And if that prompts anyone to call me a white-wine-swilling liberal elitist, I can only respond, “L’chayyim!”