What is hypocrisy? Is one allowed to change one’s mind without necessarily committing hypocrisy?
Ralph Waldo Emerson famously wrote that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” which means that those of large minds must be able to contradict what they formerly believed, presumably because their views have evolved to a higher plane.
If a Republican, let’s say a Fox News personality, now overlooks behavior by President Donald Trump that he formerly condemned (and let’s stipulate that in many cases they condemned it when it was much smaller) when it was committed by President Barack Obama, is that hypocrisy?
I don’t know the exact boundary between a principled change of one’s views on, let’s say, how often a president should play golf, or what is the appropriate boundary between respecting Congress versus taking executive action. I’m sure my own views and judgments are not always consistent when applied across presidents with whom I mostly agree versus disagree. But I do worry about such things, and hope I have some principles that are not rearranged depending on which party is in power. I am even foolish enough to worry that blatant hypocrisy based on which party is in power would undermine my credibility.
Is the same true of Fox news analysts and personalities?
Below is a hilarious video, titled “What If Fox News Covered Trump the Way It Covered Obama?” which, in case you don’t click through, shows Fox hosts and frequent guest-experts slamming Obama for things like engaging in trash talk and name-calling that diminishes the dignity of his office while being thin-skinned himself, going to Florida too often to play golf, pandering to crowds, ruling by executive action rather than deferring to Congress, criticizing his predecessor, relying too heavily on a teleprompter when speaking, increasing the national debt (after campaigning on a promise to rein it in), pandering to foreign dictators, acting like a dictator himself, treating those who disagree with him as enemies, never admitting when he’s wrong, dividing the country in order to get his voters to turn out for his re-election, acting like a “schoolyard bully” instead of like the leader of the Free World, and of lowering the dignity of his office by tweeting.
Tweeting? Tweeting! How can a president demean his office by communicating by tweet?
Here’s the video:
(By the way, if are so inclined, the full Emerson quote about foolish consistency, can be read here.)