Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Picking a Bone

Michelle Cottle over at TNR's the plank alludes to the hypocrisy line often fashionable amongst liberals in dismissing family values:

"It's not so much that Craig has been championing traditional piety for others while wallowing in his own vice--the kind of tiresome hypocrisy so often practiced by Republican congressmen who fan the family values flames even as they cheat on their wives with hottie Hill staffers. (Yes, Newt, that includes you.) Rather, Craig has been championing traditional piety for others as part of a desperate attempt to cover up a dirty little secret that he so clearly hates himself for. "

In this instance she is fisking Larry Craig for being a closet homosexual and at the same time taking a hard-line stance against homosexuals. Fine with me, I agree. Where we part though is in her broader hypocrisy charge. I agree that Newt and so many conservatives that espouse family values or the virtues of the traditional nuclear family make for awful messengers. I disagree that this nullifies the validity of their message, namely that the nuclear family or family values writ large is a good thing or represents the optimal social institution. Newt Gingrich can afford his abysmal personal character. Most Americans, however, cannot. A divorce for folks of modest income can represent substantial hardship, financial and otherwise, whose effects are usually borne by their offspring. Being born out of wedlock correlates highly with anti-social pathologies. It is in the interest of society to have healthy families. It baffles me that people find such a statement objectionable.

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