Hypocrisy has lost all meaning

Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist

There was a time when calling someone a hypocrite could stain their reputation. No more. Like the overused and often misapplied word “racism,” hypocrisy has lost the power to cause harm.

The media and Democrats are agog over President Trump’s comment to former Bill Clinton adviser and current “Good Morning America” host, George Stephanopoulos. Trump said if a foreign power had “dirt” on one of his political opponents he’d “listen” and would not necessarily inform the FBI.

On Friday, he backtracked somewhat, telling “Fox and Friends” he might tell the FBI if he received such information from a foreign government.

Unsatisfied, congressional Democrats say the first remark provided more grounds for impeachment. Opposition research is what Democrats (and Republicans) have long done, said the president.

Washington Times reporter Rowan Scarborough writes that Hillary Clinton was once fine with obtaining dirt on her opponents from foreign sources. Recall the Steele dossier, which falsely claimed bad behavior by Donald Trump when he stayed in a Moscow hotel, allegedly cavorting with prostitutes and urinating on a bed in which the Obamas had slept.

Clinton excused the dossier, which was initially paid for by her campaign and the Democratic National Committee, saying it was “part of what happens in a campaign.” The Daily Caller even reported that Christopher Steele told a State Department official that “a former Russian spy chief and a top adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin” were sources for the dossier.

No problem for the media or Democrats now campaigning openly for President Trump’s impeachment because they loved Hillary and hate Trump. This attitude colors all media reporting. Consider The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN and MSNBC, which appear to be anti-Trump, all the time.

Another example of hypocrisy is coming from Democrats, the Left and the media (do I repeat myself?) at the announcement that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will resign at the end of the month and return to Arkansas.

Reporters are honing in on a statement Sanders made alleging that “the rank and file of the FBI had lost support” for its former director, James Comey. She later said she “misspoke.” Critics called her a liar.

From PolitiFact: “Jay Carney, Barack Obama’s press secretary, echoed Obama’s claim that Americans could keep their current health care plans under the Affordable Care Act. As Obama’s plan moved from idea to legislative reality, the statement became inaccurate. Ultimately, the statement was repeated dozens of times with insufficient context, earning PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year for 2013.” Carney never said he misspoke.

Many press secretaries for Republican and Democratic presidents have lied or “spun” on behalf of their bosses, but those working for Democrats mostly get a pass or were treated better than Sanders. In 1971, when asked if American and South Vietnamese forces were preparing to invade Laos, President Nixon’s press secretary, Ron Ziegler, replied, “The president is aware of what is going on in Southeast Asia. … That is not to say anything is going on in Southeast Asia.”

In 2009, Michael Collier of the San Francisco Chronicle compiled a list of some of the lies associated with modern presidents. They include John F. Kennedy’s aides who claimed Kennedy had to cut short a visit to Chicago and return to Washington because he had a cold. It was 1962 and the truth was the Cuban missile crisis demanded his attention.

Pentagon spokesman Arthur Sylvester said at the time the government had a “right” to lie in such instances.

Lyndon Johnson lied about “guns and butter,” claiming the Vietnam War could be fought without damaging the economy.

A funny one Collier discovered might be apocryphal, but it makes a point: “Franklin D. Roosevelt went to Pittsburgh before the start of World War II and promised that the United States would not go to war. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — when war became inevitable — he asked his aides what he should say to the American people. They told him: ‘Say you were never in Pittsburgh.”

Editor’s note: This year marks Cal Thomas’ 35th year as a syndicated columnist. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditorstribpub.com.