If there is one thing that those on the other side of the vast Political Divide and I can agree upon, it is that "hypocrite" is an ugly word, which should be one of the last words drawn from the critic's quiver, somewhere after "Fiesta Bowl junketeer," but before "defrocked Catholic priest." There is never a right time to be a hypocrite, and there are no good reasons for doing so, even (or perhaps especially) in politics.
Last week, I wrote that I believe a large number of the Republicans in the recently adjourned 50th Arizona Legislature are hypocrites, and, boy, did some people get pissy!
Among the criticisms:
• Just because the Republicans' vision of how to help the middle class doesn't match yours, that doesn't make them hypocrites. I'm sorry, but the actions of a whole lot of these lawmakers scream, "Now that I've escaped the middle class for the upper regions, I'm going to do everything I can to put some distance between myself and the great unwashed." Cuts to education hurt the middle class. There's no way anybody could argue otherwise. And the deep cuts made to the state's health-care system are definitely going to hurt (and possibly even kill some) members of the lower class. That's putting extreme distance between classes.
My favorite athlete of all time is Muhammad Ali. I had friends who couldn't stand him, claiming that he "bragged too much." I always figured that if he said what he was going to do and then went out and did it, it wasn't bragging. I considered it a rather manly way to live one's life. The corollary to that is that after doing something, one should have the testicular (and/or ovarian) capacity to own up to what one did. It shouldn't be that hard, even for politicians. I'm sorry, but claiming to look out for the middle class and then giving tax breaks to corporations is hypocritical.
What absolutely kills me is that so many of these politicians say they support public education and then turn around and do everything they possibly can to undermine it. I wonder how many of them wake up every morning and ask themselves, "What can I do to screw public-school teachers today? (And not in a Van Halen music-video way.)" Because many Republicans see teachers' unions as evil, the mental slop-over effect in their teeny little brains tells them that teachers and unions are also evil, individually.
• Why are you cordial with Sens. Frank Antenori and Al Melvin on the radio, yet then you attack them in your column? God help me, but I actually like those two guys. They're just wrong a lot. I mean, a lot a lot! That's one of the curses of being an adult: You can like somebody and disagree with them. It was so much easier back in the eighth-grade.
I especially like Frank Antenori (even though he's wrong about almost everything). He's short, Italian, engaging and pugnacious. It's like I'm looking at a reflection of myself in a concave mirror where I'm standing on the principal axis at a point somewhere between the focal point and the center of curvature. The reflected image will be real, inverted (since we're opposites) and magnified (since he's sometimes an even bigger jackass than I am).
I wonder how many of the 50 kids who are crowded into one physics class next year (due to the budget cuts) will be able to follow the lesson on curved mirrors.
• The federal government dictating to the states and the states dictating to cities are not analogous situations. My radio buddies Emil Franzi and Jonathan Hoffman pointed this out, and they are technically correct. The states got together to form the federal government, and many state constitutions give the respective legislatures some control over cities.
But just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should do something. Discretion is the better part of valor, and minding your own freakin' business is the better part of having power.
Much of the beauty and charm of Arizona is that we have the Grand Canyon and the Sonoran Desert. We have the Navajo Reservation and gated communities in Scottsdale. We have normal people and the Legislature. Why would anybody want all of the cities in a state to be the same? This ain't Pleasantville.
A couple of other notes:
• You gun people have got to stop using the term "hoplophobe" to mean someone who has an irrational fear of inanimate objects. You made that crap up; the word doesn't exist. You guys are like Gretchen Weiners in Mean Girls, trying her hardest to add, "That's so fetch!" to the lexicon. Besides, in Greek, "hoplo-" means "weapon," not "inanimate object."
And tell me that if you were in a room with an atom bomb or even some sweating dynamite, you wouldn't be a bit on edge. An A-bomb, dynamite and a gun can each kill you only once, but they can all kill you.
• I wrote that many members of the Legislature "won't be happy until all Arizonans are armed, stupid and Christian." E-mailer biggaloot said, "That would be a great name for a heavy-metal band." Amen to that.
I promise I'll get to that ultimate hypocrisy—the one involving education—next week.