It’s 1830. You’re a poor Irish immigrant living in New York’s infamous Five Points slums. Penniless and uneducated, you’re viewed by affluent white society as every bit as inferior as the blacks you live among in overcrowded squalor.
As best as you can tell, you’ll never gain an ounce of status or wealth unless you can win the social acceptance of the Anglo elites. How do you convince them you’re white – a racial category that was still new and, they hoped, malleable – like them?
Hypocrisy is a favorite charge in American politics — arguably because it’s the only one that seems to consistently stick — but this series of scandals shows that Republicans are something worse than hypocrites. They are political nihilists, who use scandals like this to further their agenda of emptying politics of any morality, hope or substance, clearing the path for a naked power grab.