By Quin Hillyer at the Washington Examiner;

William Bennett, formerly education secretary under President Ronald Reagan and self-appointed moral thermometer, could stand to learn from his earlier self.

Last weekend, Bennett unleashed a furious attack at columnist George Will in response to Will’s furious attack on Vice President Mike Pence. An observer can regret the vehemence of Will’s take on the usually admirable Pence and yet be appalled at the overkill, and sheer hypocrisy, in Bennett’s eruption against Will and unnamed “NeverTrumpers.”

At least Will was demonstrating the virtue of consistency — an admirable trait that Bennett, the onetime virtue-monger, has recklessly abandoned. Will always has disliked toadyism by vice presidents, as when he once wrote that the elder former President George H. W. Bush was emitting the “thin, tinny ‘arf’… of a lapdog.” And Will has argued since at least 1983 that in some respects (citing the title of his book on the subject), Statecraft [is] Soulcraft. As the New York Times review described its thesis, “where government fails to nurture a sense of public spirit and self-restraint … the dignity of politics fades and social cohesion dissolves.”…

Bennett, on the other hand, now completely contradicts his former themes….

Against that, Bennett now argues, “what matters” isn’t the character of the president, but that Trump is pursuing an agenda to “make this country better” and save it from “a return to power of the liberal establishment.”

That worthy goal, Bennett (in effect) asserts, obviates any legitimacy in worrying about Trump’s extravagant violation of norms, his crassness, his incontinent and unrepentant lies, his praise for authoritarians, and his deliberate divisiveness. Now, Bennett is saying, Trump’s ends justify his means — so we should stifle our outrage.

Strange. Bennett once wrote a book lamenting The Death of Outrage. In it, he lambasted the “ends-justify-the-means” situational ethics then gaining prominence, specifically because they “assume a lower common denominator of behavior and leadership than we Americans ought to accept.” He argued that the private character of a president absolutely does matter….

[Read the rest at this link.]



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