Kathryn Lopez has an interesting interview with Peter Schweitzer on National Review Online today, discussing his new book, Do As I Say, Not As I Do. Schweitzer's book documents the many ways in which today's most prominent political left-liberals refuse to live according to the codes to which they hector the rest of us to adhere. The book shows, for example, how wasteful Barbra Streisand is, even though she perpetually criticizes the rest of us for falling for the consumer culture. It shows that Al Franken, who calls conservatives racists, has a worse hiring record of hiring African-Americans than Bob Jones University does. It points out that Michael Moore invests his money in Halliburton, Boeing, and HMOs, and that Moore, Nancy Pelosi, Ralph Nader, and many other left-liberals go out of their way to avoid hiring union labor.
Schweitzer acknowledges that conservatives have hypocrisies of the own, but that the press are aggressive in exposing these transgressions, and that, more importantly, the hypocritical acts of conservatives have a self-regulating component: they damage their own lives and those of their families, etc. The sins of left-liberals, however, actually make their lives better.
Yes, we are all hypocrites and I talk about that in the book. But liberal hypocrisy and conservative hypocrisy are quite different on two accounts. First, you hear about conservative hypocrisy all the time. A pro-family congressman caught in an extramarital affair, a minister caught in the same. This stuff is exposed by the media all the time. The leaders of the liberal-Left get a complete pass on their hypocrisy. Second, and this is even more important, the consequences of liberal hypocrisy are different than for the conservative variety. When conservatives abandon their principles and become hypocrites, they end up hurting themselves and their families. Conservative principles are like guard rails on a winding road. They are irritating but fundamentally good for you. Liberal hypocrisy is the opposite. When the liberal-left abandon their principles and become hypocrites, they actually improve their lives. Their kids end up in better schools, they have more money, and their families are more content. [Their] ideas are truly that bad.
Hence, Schweitzer's point is not that we should not listen to left-liberals because they are morally bankrupt as shown by their hypocrisy, but because their lives show that the ideas they advocate are not good, that they are well aware that what they are asking of others is unreasonable and unwise:
Lopez: Is there something about the book that sums something up philosophically about the Left?
Schweizer: After researching the book I really truly believe that the leading lights of the Left — Moore, Franken, Clinton, Pelosi, Kennedy, etc. — really honestly don't believe what they are selling us. Their own experiences teach them that their ideas don't work.
That is indeed the right argument to make.