Wednesday, December 01, 2004


It's okay if you lie about Democrats

Gene Lyons nails the right-wing's cynical use of "morality" to further their assault on everyone's freedoms.
Just another television show

In the real NFL, stadium security would have to answer for letting a groupie into the locker room. Or maybe the bimbo was supposed to be a team owner’s trophy wife. As in porn films, characterization was vestigial. Blonde, towel, locker room, wide receiver—in short, a degrading sexist fantasy with racial overtones.

But this is 2004, so the task of helping promote ABC’s stunt fell mainly to televangelists and public scolds on the Republican right. Former NFL color man Rush Limbaugh pronounced himself shocked. "I mean, there are some guys with their kids that sit down to watch ‘Monday Night Football'," the thrice-divorced, pill-popping moralist announced.

On "Meet the Press," Rev. Jerry Falwell’s wattles shook with indignation over the offense to family values.

I’d be more impressed with the indignation of Limbaugh, Falwell and pundits of their ilk but for their gleeful participation in the Clinton Impeachment Follies when, thanks to them and the psalm-singing judicial pornographer Kenneth Starr, the phrase "oral sex" was repeated on TV roughly every 20 seconds for the edification of every child in America. No recent event has done more to coarsen public discourse or contribute to the inappropriate sexualization of children.

This is not to ignore Bill Clinton’s own extravagant folly, but it wasn’t his idea to turn his intimate sins into a 24/7 TV melodrama. It
was his political enemies’, all of whom thought humiliating him and promoting themselves more important than the public virtue they now so piously declaim.

In connection with a documentary of Joe Conason’s and my book "The Hunting of the President," I once asked Falwell, on camera, if the biblical commandment against bearing false witness was a lesser sin than the other nine. At issue was the televangelist’s promotion of "The Clinton Chronicles," a video portraying the president of the United States as a cocaine-snorting drug lord and worse. Falwell replied that he had no idea if the allegations in the video were true or false, a "Clintonian" evasion if ever one was.

And people call Michael Moore irresponsible!

Next time you ponder "liberal bias," ask yourself if a left-winger connected with a project which intimated that President Bush had his political rivals murdered would be a frequent guest on CNN and "Meet the Press." But hey, sex sells, as everybody involved in this solemn farce understands. It sells beer, it sells whatever products they’re pitching on "Desperate Housewives" and it helps sell salvation, too. If not, televangelists would rail against something else. Almost as interesting as what excites would-be censors is what doesn’t: "The Young and the Restless," " The Bold and the Beautiful" and other daytime soaps, whose nubile characters devote their entire lives to seduction, betrayal and hopping in and out of bed. But Momma don’t like nobody messing with her stories, so nobody does. That said, for once Limbaugh’s right: Half-naked cheerleaders and beer-ad cuties notwithstanding, a man and his kid ought to be able to watch a ball game without both getting embarrassed by a hoochie-coochie show.
Of course, Rush Limbaugh and Jerry Falwell are so utterly shameless, they are beyond even caring that they've been caught, for perhaps the millionth time in their lives of lies. However, you'd think the press, if not the people, would get pissed off at being lied to so unrelentingly. But as long as their corporate paymasters are happily swilling at George W. Bush's trough, that won't happen.

Meanwhile, the "culture warriors" are distracting their energized base from realizing just how cynically they are being used. Everyone's happy, nothing changes, the "morals police" go on stamping their little feet, and the Republicans bank the money. Lovely vicious circle we got going here. Nice little arrangement.
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