Hypocritical Political Leaders... Better Than The Alternative?

Interesting point I saw raised a while back by one of the readers at Andrew Sullivan's blog, which has since been percolating in the back of my brain...is it really always such a bad thing to have hypocritical political leaders?

The immediate reaction to that question will tend to be an emphatic "yes!", but given the assumption that no politician we ever get in office, anywhere, in any capacity, is ever going to be perfect... do we really want a leader who does the NON-hypocritical thing and says "well, I really have quite a few shortcomings when it comes to financial ethics (for example)... so I'm not going to try and make anyone else play by those rules any better than I do"... or do we want the leader who is going to crack the whip and keep everyone else in line regardless of how good he is at staying in line himself, even if that is hypocritical of them?

Or the leader who can't stay on a diet, so he does the non-hypocritical thing and refuses to contribute any effort into educating the children of the nation that eating healthy is a good thing?

Or, pick your personal shortcoming...

I have to say, after giving it considerably thought, given those two options I kind of want the hypocrite. I mean sure, ideally I'd want the leader who holds the government and the nation to the highest standard AND meets that standard themselves... but let's be realistic. Not happening. Any human being is going to fall short of the standards we'd like to see maintained in *some* area. But we still want the nation held to the highest standards in ALL areas, at least ideally. So... if you look at it a certain way, hurray for hypocrisy!

On the other hand, there's hypocrisy and there's hypocrisy. For example... if I think it through I'm pretty ok with the guy who rides around in private jets burning through fossil fuels while trying to champion the envirnoment. I mean... bad optics, but I find it hard to get seriously outraged about it.

However, no matter which way I look at it I get enormously ticked off by the guy who is condemning people as shameful and immoral for their sexual orientation while they're running around Europe with a gay escort they claim is only there to "carry their luggage".

And the difference between those two that's making me reach different conclusions about how acceptable they are is the first one is an example of someone trying to improve the lives of others with their advocacy even if they're not perhaps living up to their own ideals... and the other is just some jerk who is spreading hatred and bigotry over an issue that I frankly have difficulty believing he actually really thinks is the great evil he runs around telling people it is so that they'll give his organization money to fight it.

Of course, I appreciate that a certain segment of the population views that last situation differently. Your mileage may vary.

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