Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake
jaylake

[politics] The Grand Old Police blotter strikes again

I've been on recently about conservative principles. (The comment thread there is pretty interesting reading, btw.) As regular readers know, I am continually astonished at the profoundly counterfactual thinking required of any conservative these days.

For a very basic example, conservatives hold fiscal responsibility and small government as core principles while their president and (until recently) their Congress racked up the largest budgets and budgets deficits in American history while pursuing the largest government expansion in American history. Yet my conservative friends still sneer at tax-and-spend liberals. Seems to meet that beats the hell out of borrow-and-spend conservatives, which is what tax cuts + budget growth translates to. At least tax-and-spend liberals live within their means.

I could go down the list, but if you are familiar with the news outside the conservative echo chamber, you know this litany as well or better than I do. (FOX News viewers need not apply — you guys still think WMDs were found in Iraq, there's no hope for you glimpsing reality during this decade.)

The one piece of raging conservative hypocrisy that has stuck in my craw since my political coming of age early in the Reagan years is the "family values" posture of the Republican party. Every election cycle they win millions of votes on that position, which amounts to a one dimensional definition of morality framed around abortion. If you're anti-choice, you're moral. If you're pro-choice, you're immoral. Beating Clinton over the head with his sexual pecadillos for years was just bonus chop for the Gods-guns-gays platform.

Yet literally weekly we see stories like this one:

Glenn Murphy, then-chairman of the Young Republican National Federation was recently arrested is being investigated for sexual assault on another man. (Shockingly, he has since resigned his post for unrelated reasons.)

The number of Republican figures caught up in values-based scandals, as distinct from, for example, political scandals like the New Hampshire phone jamming case, l'affaire Plame, or the US Attorney firings, seems to grow weekly. Google up some of these Republicans from the hit parade past year or so if you're not familiar:

Claude Allen, White House Domestic Policy Advisor (theft, fraud)
Don Sherwood, Pennsylvania Congressman (domestic assault)
David Vitters, Louisana Senator (solicitation of prostitution, and as a special bonus, diapers!)
Jay Garrity, Romney Campaign Official (impersonating a police officer)
Thomas Ravenel, Guiliani Campaign Offician (conspiracy to distribute cocaine)
Bob Allen, Florida Congressman (soliciation of prostitution)
Jim Gibbons, Nevada Governor (sexual assault)

How much mileage did each and every one of those figures get from denouncing liberals, crusading against immorality, and proclaiming allegiance to family values?

Remember John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban? Our friends on the Right were convinced that this one young man's actions in Afghanistan were evidence that all liberals were traitors, and the liberal worldview was profoundly unAmerican. That narrative sure played well on national media.

Somehow, that logic of guilt by association which smears all liberals everywhere never seems to apply to Republicans. The "values voters" go right on believing in the moral high ground occupied by these rapists, johns and drug dealers. At the same time, they've never let go of Clinton's affair with Lewinsky, which was at least both legal and consensual.

It's not that I really care personally. There are bad apples in every barrel, of any political stripe and walk of life. The system catches them where it can. But when you paint all over your barrel, "Truth, Justice and the American Way", and proclaim your moral goodness from the rooftops to gain 40,000,000+ votes in every election, shouldn't you be responsible for some iota of intellectual consistency?

As a friend heard in a lunchroom right after the 2000 elections, from a single mother with three kids and everything to lose under Republican social and tax policies, "At least there won't be any more blow jobs in the Oval Office."
Tags: culture, politics, sex
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