Hypocrisy, Yes, But With A Point

The brouhaha over John Edwards’s staffer going to Wal-Mart to buy the Senator a Play Station 3 just a day after Edwards had blasted Wal-Mart for its employment practices was pretty entertaining. James Taranto quotes Wal-Mart’s press release pimping the Senator:

Wal-Mart welcomes Sen. Edwards to visit his local Wal-Mart store and explore the extensive line of home electronics as well as the Metro7 line shoes for men and boys.
The Company noted the PlayStation3 is an extremely popular item this Christmas season, and while the rest of America’s working families are waiting patiently in line, Senator Edwards wants to cut to the front. While, we cannot guarantee that Sen. Edwards will be among one of the first to obtain a PlayStation3, we are certain Sen. Edwards will be able to find great gifts for everyone on his Christmas list–many at Wal-Mart’s “roll-back prices.”

Edwards blamed his staffer, whom he described as “a young kid,” and characterized the aide’s shopping at Wal-Mart as an error born of ignorance.
This reminds me of Peter Schweizer’s excellent book, Do As I Say, Not As I Do. Schweizer’s book contains highly entertaining recitations of mind-boggling liberal hypocrisy. (In fact, now that Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House, we should dust off his profile of her.) But beyond mocking liberals, Schweizer makes a more profound point: when conservatives act in a hypocritical manner, violating their own principles, they go astray and screw up their lives. When iberals, on the other hand, act hypocritically, they usually are also acting reasonably. They find their principles hard to follow in their own lives in part because their principles are wrong.
This case is a good example. Edwards recited the very silly liberal critique of Wal-Mart as a threat to low-income people. His aide, however, when charged with buying the Senator a PS3, quite reasonably went to Wal-Mart because he knew he would get the best price there. Which is, of course, why Wal-Mart is one of the greatest boons to people of modest means in recent history. Edwards should learn from his aide, not criticize him.


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