March 14, 2008
Who'll be the next Spitzer?
Posted by: Andoni
By now everyone is familiar with the fact that New York Gov. Eliot "get tough on prostitution rings" Spitzer was actually patronizing one himself. We remember Ted Haggard railing against homosexuality and homosexual acts, only to discover that he himself was hiring homosexual prostitutes and engaging in homosexual acts on the side.
Today we learn in the New York Times that one of Chinaâs leading anti-drinking crusaders, Guo Shizhong, mayor of Xinyang, died -- you guessed it -- in a bar drinking alcohol. Yesterday Chris noted that Oklahoma state senator Sally Kern, with all her anti-gay ranting, may have a gay son.
What's going on with these public figures who go on crusades against what they consider evils or inappropriate conduct in others when they themselves are participating in the same conduct? Freud called this type of behavior "reaction formation." It's a defense mechanism caused by inner anxiety from doing something we think or have been taught is wrong, which is then balanced or defeated by lashing out externally at the very thing that is causing discomfort.
We can each point to countless past examples of this phenomenon at work. But what about those currently in the limelight, but whose hypocrisy remains hidden? Is anyone who goes out of his way to condemn conduct in others justifiably suspect for that very activity? It's a fair bet for a good percentage of these crusaders.
Consider the three finalists in the presidential race: John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. What do these people crusade about most often -- and does that hint about what they may be compensating for internally?
For McCain, the first thing that comes to mind is his very aggressive opposition to lobbyists and special interests. And yet his campaign is being run by lobbyists. Is his strong stance against lobbyists a reaction formation to his heavy reliance on them? Could he be in bed with them more than we know?
Senator Clinton never forgets to tell us she has 35 years of experience and will be ready to make those tough decisions on Day One, lashing out at Obama for not being ready . Could it be that she is really covering for her own insecurity about lacking much firsthand experience. Is she compensating for this internal unease?
I'm not sure I can think of any examples of where Senator Obama goes overboard crusading for something. I need your help on that one. Any suggestions?
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