Writing a defence of Ross Cameron, and political hypocrisy in general, Greg Barns puts forward the startling proposition that it’s OK for politicians to keep a mistress at taxpayers’ expense.
For the body politic in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and their former colonies, the fact that their political leaders attend church on Sundays, preach the need for less corruption and moral virtue during the week, but keep a mistress at taxpayer’s expense merely raises a resigned shrug of the shoulders.
This latter approach is not only more realistic but recognises the point .. that there’s little reason to expect that the personality type attracted to politics is a human of impeccable moral virtue.
If Barns himself should ever run for office, we can’t say we weren’t warned.
Coming to the more general issue, hypocrisy isn’t the worst sin a politician can commit, but it is a relevant one. A lot of the discussion of this question focuses on hypocrisy about sexual behavior, but there are plenty of other kinds, and the defences advanced by Barns are rarely put forward in such cases. For example, there was a lot of discussion of Mark Latham’s choice of hospital for his recent illness, and the decisions of Labor MPs on where to send their kids to school are regularly scrutinised. No-one (at least, no-one I noticed) suggested that this was a private matter, not suitable for public discussion. A protectionist MP who owned shares in an import business, or a free-marketeer who owned a business with a government monopoly could expect to have the facts pointed out. And so on.
There are a lot of reasons to vote for or against Ross Cameron other than his stance on family values. And a voter who agreed with Cameron’s ostensible stand on family policy might well conclude that it was better to have someone who voted the right way, but didn’t live up to his principles, than an impeccably well-behaved family man or woman who opposed legislative imposition of a particular family type. Still, if I were a family-values voter, I’d rather have somone who walked the walk as well as talking the talk.
fn1. I should say, to be absolutely clear, that no-one has suggested that Cameron used taxpayers’ money. Also, those who wish to substitute “toy-boy” will, I am sure, have Barns’ assent.