Presidential candidate Edwards not hypocrite

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers

Since it’s already come up and will come up more in our campaign season, let’s have a vocabulary lesson.

Today’s word is “hypocrisy.” On dictionary.com, it’s “a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.”

Now, let’s pretend we’re at last week’s National Spelling Bee, and use it in a sentence or two:

• When Gov. Bill Richardson said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should get the benefit of the doubt in the prosecutor purge scandal because he’s Hispanic, Richardson was somewhat of a hypocrite because as secretary of energy in 1999, he didn’t give another minority, Wen Ho Lee, the same benefit of the doubt during accusations of spying.

• You could have called President Bush a hypocrite earlier this year when he gave speeches flanked by military members who weren’t allowed to speak, and said Democrats trying to attach timetables to Iraq war funding were engaging in “political theater.”

We know what is a hypocrite, so let’s talk about what isn’t — John Edwards. You’ll be told over the next few months he’s a hypocrite because he’s a millionaire lecturing about how hard it is for people living in poverty.

Ask these people why it’s hypocritical to want to help a social class you aren’t a part of. Also ask if it was hypocritical for any white person to participate in the civil rights movement in the 1960s because they weren’t black. I think you have your answer.

Now, if Edwards had used his Senate votes to support George Bush’s tax cuts that would have lined his pockets and cut from social programs the poor rely on, that would define hypocrisy. But Edwards voted against those tax breaks for himself.

In fact, you’re more likely to hear hypocrisy from the supposedly liberal media that’s tasked to cover Edwards:

• Brian Williams of NBC News appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman a few months ago, and conversation shifted to $400 haircuts Edwards had received. Williams said the most he’s ever paid for a haircut was “probably $12.” Well, Brian, I’ve never been on the cover of Men’s Vogue like you have, and I’ve paid more than $12 for a haircut several times.

But that doesn’t make him a hypocrite. Williams also told Letterman the haircut talking point was petty and there’s “no reason for us to continue talking about it.” Yet two days later, he became a hypocrite when he moderated a presidential debate on MSNBC and brought up haircuts in the second question he asked Edwards.

• Katie Couric of CBS News had an interview with Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, after her breast cancer came out of remission. The pair said it wouldn’t derail his presidential campaign because they thought their message was worth fighting for. Couric continually asked Edwards if stepping down and supporting his spouse was the right course of action. By the way, Couric never left her job at NBC when her husband was diagnosed with, and eventually died of, colon cancer.

Maybe you don’t like John Edwards because you’re leery of people who make money as a trial lawyer. Maybe you don’t think his one Senate term is enough experience to get things done in Washington. If those are your reasons for voting elsewhere, don’t support Edwards or others who fit that criteria.

But don’t vote against Edwards for being a hypocrite on poverty. He’s not.