Below are 10 awesomely hypocritical statements from politicians, as compiled in bestselling author Zac Bissonnette’s new book out today, “Good Advice from Bad People: Selected Wisdom from Murderers, Stock Swindlers and Lance Armstrong.” Each quote is followed by Bissonnette’s commentary.
These represent just a handful of the more than 75 quotes in the book, from risk-managing financial titans who crashed their firms, to role model athletes who failed to practice what they preached.
Note that naturally, these only represent a small fraction of the infinite quotes from politicians that could be included in such a list. Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments and/or tweet them @TheBlazeBooks.
1. “Living above your means is financial sin.” — Jesse Jackson Jr., “It’s About the Money!: The Fourth Movement of the Freedom Symphony: How to Build Wealth, Get Access to Capital, and Achieve Your Financial Dreams“
“Jesse Jackson Jr. rode his father’s coattails to a personal finance guide published by Random House, along with a seat in the United States House of Representatives.
After resigning from Congress in 2012, citing bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues, Jackson pled guilty to one count of mail and wire fraud; it seems that Jackson used $750,000 in campaign money on personal expenses–including a fedora worn by Michael Jackson, elk heads, cashmere capes, and a guitar signed by Eddie Van Halen. In August 2013, he was sentenced to thirty months in prison, where he most certainly will not be living above his means.”
2. “Truth is easier to remember than fiction. The reason that lie detectors work is that the act of lying creates a physical reaction in your body: your pulse quickens, your blood pressure increases, and often you begin to sweat–all signs of stress. Clearly your body does not think that lying is good, so imagine what it might be doing to your soul. It is important not only to speak the truth but also to stand up for the truth when others are wrong.” — New Gingrich, “5 Principles for a A Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours“
“Gingrich, in a testament to his lack of shame, provided his integrity advice in a book published more than a decade after the scandals that led to his downfall from his role as Speaker of the House–and a few years before his rise as, ever-so-briefly, a legitimate contender for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Two affairs had led to two divorces–one of which was ongoing as he ripped President Clinton for his marital infidelities–and a House ethics investigation had undermined his tenure as Speaker. During the 2012 campaign, allegations about his ties to the mortgage industry dogged him. When he denied any lobbying experience, Congressman Barney Frank called him “a lobbyist and a liar.”
In an interview with CBN, Gingrich explained his past infidelities with a pitch-perfect humblebrag: “There’s no question at times in my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”
3. “We must transform our government so that it is as ethical and wise as all of New York.” — Eliot Spitzer, gubernatorial inaugural address, January 1, 2007
“First as New York’s attorney general and then as it’s governor, Eliot Spitzer built a national reputation as a media-savvy crusader for ethics in business and in government; he was among the biggest foes of corruption on Wall Street. Then his career came crashing down when it turned out that he was a client of Emperors Club VIP, where he paid as much as $3,100 per hour for prostitutes.
Post-fall, Spitzer–with a supporting wife and a huge amount of family money–might have taken some time off for self-examination and perhaps devoted his energy to public interest legal work. Instead, lacking the capacity for any sense of self outside of his public life, the narcissist landed gigs on nearly every cable news network, but he failed to draw an audience. Next, he ran for New York City Comptroller in the 2013 Democratic primary. He lost.”
4. “I think the most important thing is [to] restore a sense of idealism and end the cynicism in state government. Bring to the job a desire to really make things happen and help people and give confidence back to the public.” — Rod Blagojevich, September 23, 2002
“When Rod Blagojevich ascended to the Illinois governor’s mansion in 2003, he did it with an image as a reformer–an honest, ethical guy who would clean up a state that had a decades-old reputation around the country for political corruption.
Instead, Blagojevich ended up operating in the grand tradition of Illinois politics. When then senator Barack Obama was elected president, Blagojevich essentially tried to auction off the Senate seat he was charged with filling–providing a wiretapped quote more memorable than his 2002 call for idealism: “I’ve got this thing and it’s f**king golden. And I;m just not giving it up for f**king nothing.”
Blagojevich became the fourth of Illinois’s last seven governors to land in prison, and the cynicism continues with good reason.”
5. “Taking a problem head on is better than hiding from it, even when it hurts. Not doing the right thing because it’s too hard or too uncomfortable is not acceptable. Not today, and not ever.” – Jon Corzine, July 4, 2006
“Jon Corzine was a former Goldman Sachs CEO who, after a 1999 battle with future Treasury secretary Henry Paulson cost him his kingdom, went on to serve as governor of New Jersey from 2006 to 2010. After losing his re-election bid to Chris Christie, Corzine took over as CEO MF Global–and in 2011, after a series of futures bets made at Corzine’s behest soured, he led the company to a spot on the list of the ten largest bankruptcies in U.S. history.
But the company didn’t deal with its insolvency head on. Rather, it dipped into customer funds to pay off creditors. The customers didn’t think it was the right thing, and they didn’t think it was acceptable.
In April 2013, the company’s bankruptcy trustee sued Corzine, accusing him of leading the company on a risky path of doom. The case is pending.”
6. “We choose hope over despair, possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism. We choose to do what’s right even when those around us say, ‘You can’t do that.’” — John Edwards, speech at the Democratic National Convention, July 28, 2004
“John Edwards rose from poverty to build a career as a wildly successful ambulance-chasing attorney and then parlayed the same sleazy charisma that had helped him win over juries into a political career that culminated with a presidential bid during the 2008 election.
The small-town-family-man image came crumbling down when it was revealed, initially by the National Enquirer in 2007, that he had fathered a child with Rielle Hunter, a campaign worker, while his wife was battling cancer. A sex tape surfaced, followed by another campaign worker who, to cover for Edwards, claimed to have been the father. Edwards was eventually indicted, tried, and found not guilty on charges that he’d misused campaign funds to cover up the affair.
Publicly, he blamed his abandonment of his faith and ethics on that most twenty-first century of maladies: self-love. “In the course of several campaigns,” he said, “I started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic.”
These days, Edwards lives in something resembling seclusion with no apparent future in public life. But he isn’t ruling it out: “I don’t think God’s through with me,” he said in 2012. “I really believe he thinks there’s still some good things I can do.” It seems likely that the public will choose hope and possibilities over Edward’s despair and problems.”
7. “Selflessness is the greatest asset an individual can have in a time of crisis….The very fact that the crisis is bigger than the man himself takes his mind off his own problems. The natural symptoms of stress in a period of crisis do not become self-destructive as a result of his worry about himself but, on the other hand, become positive forces for creative action.” — Richard Nixon, “Six Crises“
“In 1962, John F. Kennedy was riding high on the sucess of his book Profiles in Courage, and California gubernatorial candidate Richard Nixon decided he wanted a piece of his publishing success. So he published Six Crises he’d faced in his career–and how he’d overcome them and what he’d learned from them.
In later years, the joke was that the book should have been published in loose-leaf so that readers could add updates on each new crisis. Nevertheless: Nixon preached the notion that, when directed at problems larger than an individual, stress could be a catalyst for accomplishment rather than self-destructiveness.
As president, Nixon’s inability to focus on issues larger than himself led to his downfall–and his paranoia about perceived enemies led to self-destructive conduct that forced his resignation and undermined a career and legacy that had been otherwise successful on many of the more selfless issues Nixon confronted: environmental destruction, civil rights, and Sino-American relations.”
8. “Our talk, the natural emission of grandiosity within, kills our momentum.” — Dick Morris, The New Prince: Machiavelli Updated for the Twenty-First Century
“Up until not that long ago, few people had better reputations as political experts than Dick Morris. Whatever people thought of his character or lack of commitment to any particular ideological principles, the word for Dick Morris was smart. George Stephanopoulos later remember that “Over the course of the first nine months of 1995, no single person had more power over the president.” He was a contributor on Fox News and widely respected for his insight into the political process and, in particular, his expertise as a pollster, especially in conservative circles.
Then, in the months leading to the 2012 election–right up to Election Day–Morris made the biggest and most grandiose prediction of his career. In appearances on cable news shows, in his columns, and in YouTube videos, Morris predicted a landslide victory for Mitt Romney: 325 electoral votes to Obama’s 213. He predicted that Romney would win every state McCain had won in 2008, plus Florida, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. He also predicted that Romney would win by five to ten percentage points in the popular vote.
By early evening on election night, Morris’s considerable momentum as a political pundit was gone. Cartoonist Marshall Ramsey tweeted that “The Mayans, Dick Morris and the Groundhog should be put in prognosticator timeout.” Blogger Andrew Sullivan named an annual award given for “stunningly wrong political, social and cultural predictions” after the fallen soothsayer, and Fox News promptly dumped him as a contributor. He landed a job as a local talk radio host for 1210 WPHT Philadelphia–a steep decline for a man once hailed as a political savant.”
9. “I’ve never been a passive person. I’ve always felt that, if you think something should be changed, it’s your responsibility to actively pursue that change.” — Bob Filner, October 17, 1987
“When California Congressman and later San Diego mayor Bob Filner made those comments, he was reflecting on the volunteer work he’d done as a Freedom Rider, hoping to integrate buses when he was a teenager.
Unfortunately, as an adult, Filner also applied that can-do spirit to his interactions with women. On October 15, 2013, Filner pleaded guilty to felony false imprisonment “by violence, fraud, menace and deceit” and two counts of misdemeanor battery. He’d already resigned as mayor because of the allegations, which began with his former communications director alleging that he’d demanded kisses, asked that she work without panties, and put her in a headlock.
Prior to pleading guilty, Filner lashed out at his accusers, evoking the evils of the injustices he’d once fought against. He compared the allegations against him to a lynch mob. “I think he wants to redeem his original legacy, which was a wonderful one, and put this behind him,” his attorney told reporters.”
10. “The single biggest predictor of good results versus bad results is whether kids come from a stable, loving, nurturing, two-parent family….A lot of folks here in Washington don’t fully understand that….I am one small example of that progress.” — David Vitter, Senate floor speech in support of a a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, June 6, 2006
“In 2003, Republican congressman David Vitter of Louisiana joined five other congressmen in introducing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage; he continued to support the measure after his rise to the U.S. Senate. In 2007, he was identified as a patron of prostitutes; his name was on the client list for the D.C. Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Vitter called his enjoyment of whores a “serious sin” and managed to get reelected in 2010. Unfazed by his hypocrisy, he has stood by his anti-gay, “pro-family” politics. He’s also been a big proponent of abstinence-only sex education: “Abstinence education is a public health strategy focused on risk avoidance that aims to help young people avoid exposure to harm…by teaching teenagers that saving sex until marriage and remaining faithful afterwards is the best choice for health and happiness,” he wrote in 2007.
If Senator Vitter is an example of progress in maintaining family values, we may be in more trouble than he realizes.”