Watching the hypocrisy watchers: its Hypocrisy Watch Watch!

We left off with a discussion of the Strib having called out Scott Nienow for fiscal hypocrisy.  The verdict here:  The Strib is right, Nienow is a hypocrite.

I alluded at the time, this form of news story where the article details the Republican’s monetary travails, then in an ironic buried lede identifies him as a ‘fiscal conservative’, is a news reporter favorite.   They are their own form, and would be a rich topic to chronicle here as they occur.

True enough, and mere days later we can do our latest installment.

Today Aaron Rupar at the City Pages is piqued that Stewart Mills calls Cash for Clunkers  “another failed example of Washington, D.C., trying to legislate the free market.”

Rupar is keen to point out that Mills has a business selling cars, and that this business sold cars with Cash for Clunker incentives when that program was in effect.  Ergo, thereby, ipso facto, Mills is a hypocrite for conducting business under Cash For Clunkers and then criticizing it later.

This is City Pages, mind you:  a clickbait gambit, whereby low paid, cultural lefty writers of insignificant professional accomplishment speak to a low information crowd.  But even with that understanding, this stuff is noteworthy for its insipidness.

The big problem with Rupar’s premise is that Mill’s evaluation of Cash for Clunkers is not in conflict with … anything.  Mils having participated in the program as a car retailer and then saying it failed DOES NOT EQUAL HYPOCRISY.  Rupar would do well to bone up on what elements must be present for hypocrisy to exist.

The second existential problem with Rupar’s premise is …. Mills isn’t guilt of blatant lying, gross overstatement, or even mere playing to ambiguity.  Cash for Clunkers failed, and it was a failed example of Washington DC trying to legislate the free market.  Both these things are true, and not in much dispute anywhere.  Mills is right.

As I noted, the quality of the venue – City Pages – in many ways speaks for itself and the content therein.  Still… this is a weak, pathetic piece.  Rupar has to use several quotes by people other than Mills to create the context in which he can assert Mill’s hypocrisy.  Some of these are the mundane asserted as malevolent.  You know, dog whistles.  But in at least one quote, the sales manager, Rupar ellipses the source material severe enough to dramatically misconstrue its original meaning.

I’m fully prepared to be illuminated that Republicans can be fiscal hypocrites.  This isn’t an example.


5 thoughts on “Watching the hypocrisy watchers: its Hypocrisy Watch Watch!

  1. pm1956

    Hold on just a minute. Seems to me that you are mischaracterizing the authors point, which is that Mills stated that Washington DC never created a job. The author then points out that Mill’s director of operations said that the Cash for Clunkers program was good for business–which implies, to me, that it might very well have created a couple of jobs here and there (or, at the very least, saved a few people from getting fired). So what the author is pointing out is that Mill’s statement is contradicted by one of Mill’s own employees. Further, Mill’s company eagerly participated in the Cash for Clunkers program, which it did in order to maintain its business (keep employees)..

    Now i think that it is fine to criticize a program, even if you participated in it. I think that you are correct that that, by itself, is not hypocritical. BUT, the author of the article you cite never calls Mills a hypocrite. Rather, i think the point is that Mills is a liar–because the Cash for Clunkers program clearly saved lots of jobs–including jobs at Mill’s company. So the program was a success (it kept people employed at the same time that it pulled lots of older cars off of the roads), and Washington DC clearly saved jobs (and the difference between saving jobs and creating jobs is so small as to be silly in this context), and Mills must know that that is the case.

    1. Erik Petersen

      What is Rupar’s point? Thing is, what’s obvious is he’s included Mills on his beat because he believes that topically he can regularly play off his readership’s antipathy to a Mills type person. Thus, Rupar is going to write about Mill’s as if he’s controversial whether he actually is or not. This example here is very contrived, IMHO.

      These 2009 quotes from dealership personnel – which also do not obviate Mill’s position – are from essentially a local coupon shopper in Brainerd. Which is to say, the source material is of dubious candor, and is not actually a piece of journalism. Even besides the fact that Rupar ellipsed it awkwardly to make it a more strident statement.

      The almost universally accepted critique of Cash for Clunkers is that insofar as it was economically significant, all it did was move some future sales into the present. I doubt Mills made ‘lots’ of money, certainly not personally, off CFC. I don’t know how many lots they have (I’m thinking a couple up north), but we’re probably talking at best six figures of revenue moved into 2009. MAYBE seven figures. With some percentage of that accounted as ‘profit’ for the enterprise.

      As I say, I don’t think this set of facts, contrasted, makes for hypocrisy by Mills. I think you have to be doing a dog whistle to assert it that way, and it has to be a dog whistle to understand it that way,

      1. pm1956

        but…but…did you read what i wrote? I said that the author is NOT asserting hypocrisy. He is asserting that Mills is a liar. i think he has proved that Mills is a liar–or, at the least, certainly wrong in his assertion (that Washington DC has not created a job)..

        So, i think it is fair to say that the only person listening to that particular dog whistle is…you.

      2. Erik Petersen Post author

        That’s not a lie, it’s certainly something far less than ‘if you like your plan you can keep it.’

        He’s referencing a doctrinaire conservative economic chestnut that stipulates all government money originates in the private sector, thus there are no ‘government created jobs.’

        Whether it’s subject to interpretation or not I’m sure Mills believes it. So it’s not a lie. You figure in any case it does fall within the bounds of political hyperbole that mature thinkers don’t call lies.

      3. pm1956


        If someone sincerely believes something, then it isn’t a lie?So you don’t believe in things like “facts”? There are all sorts of people who believe in Santa Claus–but Santa is not a fact. Santa is something that is not true (a lie).

        When government hires people to do something that is not being done, then it is creating jobs. Government created jobs during the Great Depression through all sorts of programs. Government creates jobs by funding basic research at universities. Government creates jobs by funding public universities. Government creates jobs by paying for firemen, policemen, etc.

        I don’t care whose chestnut it is, but anyone who states that government does not create jobs is wrong, and a liar. Those are just the facts.

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