WASHINGTON — When we talk about hypocrisy in politics, we usually highlight personal behavior. The multiply-married politician who proclaims “family values” while also having affairs is now a rather dreary stock figure in our campaign narratives.
But the hypocrisy that matters far more is the gap between ideology and practice that has reached a crisis point in American conservatism. This Republican presidential campaign is demonstrating conclusively that there is an unbridgeable divide between the philosophical commitments conservative candidates make before they are elected and what they will have to do when faced with the day-to-day demands of practical governance. Conservatives in power have never been — and can never be — as anti-government as they are in a campaign.