When, on March 13, a caller to Bill Bennett’s radio show charged the host with being unduly supportive of “establishment Republicans” over Tea Partiers, Bennett admitted that while he’s an admirer of the Tea Party, he would not endorse those of its candidates who, even if they won, would hurt the party.
Even if they won, they would hurt the party.
Bennett’s justification for not voting for Tea Party candidates—let’s call it the “No Harm” principle—is the justification to which all establishment Republicans resort for doing the same. And, as far as I can determine, it seems cogent enough. But here is the rub: what’s good for the establishment is just as good for the Tea Party.
In other words, it is rank hypocrisy for the Bill Bennetts of the GOP to castigate Tea Partiers (and libertarians) for being “purists,” say, when the latter invoke the No Harm principle against those establishment Republicans who they believe have been harming the party, and the conservative movement, for decades.
It is rank hypocrisy for establishment types to charge their brethren to their right—and make no mistakes, so-called Tea Partiers and libertarians are indeed more to the right than their accusers—of aiding and abetting Democrats.
You can bet the bank that Bennett, Bill Kristol, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, Hugh Hewitt, and legions of others wouldn’t spare a moment to forfeit an election, any election, to a Democrat, any Democrat, if the only alternative was, say, Ron Paul or Pat Buchanan. This isn’t just a hypothetical: It’s a matter of record that Bill Kristol once explicitly stated that he would vote for John Kerry over Buchanan.
A more telling example of this inconsistency on the part of establishment Republicans is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Though he implored the attendees at the most recent Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC) to set aside their differences and vote Republican, when Christie had an opportunity to advance Mitt Romney during the last presidential election cycle, he did nothing of the kind. He formally endorsed Romney, it is true. Yet, in effect, he pushed President Obama over the finish line by heaping endless praise upon him in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and insinuating that his prior endorsement of Romney was just a matter of “playing politics.”
There is yet more hypocrisy to be exposed.
Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.