Monday, October 02, 2006

Sins vs. Republican Sins

By Cassandra D

As I have made it abundantly clear on this blog, I think the current batch of Republicans in Washington deserve to be voted out of office, and for many reasons, chiefly their support of torture, their blind support of Bush's war policy, and their dismantling of the checks and balances built into our Constitution. Given that that is my point of view, I'm not sorry about the timing of the Rep. Mark Foley sexual predator scandal.

[A note here to my friend RedDirt: Before I launch into the next part of this post, I want to say that when I write "Republicans" I am talking about the people who have hijacked the party and who are giving it its current bad name. I'm not talking about my Republican friends who so far are holding onto their party registration, whom I respect and who I hope will be part of the dominant element in the Republican party of the future. And now back to our previously scheduled posting...]

Foley's behavior was truly despicable, but I can't say that it is the kind of sin that is trademark Republican in nature. I could imagine that a Democrat might be found to be sexually harassing an underage page of the same gender. The apparent cover-up by members of the House's Republican leadership comes closer to being a stereotypically Republican sin. Such a cover-up would be indicative of both a lack of oversight and avoidance, due to political concerns, of necessary corrections to personnel and tactics. But perhaps, in the same situation, weak-willed Democrats might do the same thing.

So now for the certifiably Republican Sin. First, Brit Hume lamely tries to equate this scandal with Bill Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky, who was 22 when she became an intern. And then White House Press Secretary Tony Snow calls a this congressman's sexually explicit emails to underage teens "simply naughty emails." And how about this diatribe from Rush Limbaugh:

"Here's a supposedly, ostensibly safe seat, here we are in the election campaign with a Clinton war room in full-speed operation, and all of a sudden things that people have known for a long time suddenly surface, once again thanks to our old buddy Brian Ross at ABC.

Now, if you've got a 16 or 17-year-old page genuinely scared and frightened about all this, save the stuff. It's embarrassing, what if somebody sees this outside of who you intend to see it? I'm just thinking out loud here. What if somebody got to the page, said, you know, we want you to set Foley up, we'll do a little titillating thing, keep it and save it and so forth. How would you get a kid to do that? Who knows. You threaten him, you pay him, there's any number of ways, given the kind of people that we're dealing with and talking about here."

The Republican Sin here is in refusing, absolutely refusing, to believe that one of their own is worse than Bill Clinton. It is the refusal to believe that one of their own is not on God's side, but is in fact an evil-doer. And if there is any acknowledgement of that evil, the Republican Sin is being unable to acknowledge it without saying, "but they [Democrats, Iraqis, terrorists, fill in the blank] are more evil, so our evil really isn't that bad." Sex scandals, torture. Pick your issue.

Republicans are always accusing others of believing in "moral relativism." Ironic, isn't it?

"And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye?"Matthew 7:3-4 (Jesus of Nazareth)


At 10:02 PM, Anonymous flamewhore said...

Obviously the Rep. leadership was protecting their power and not Mark Foley, or the pages for that matter. It really sickens me when I think that any member of Congress knew and let it go on. I thought Dennis Hastert used to coach kids-- they must have been glad to see him leave for D.C. I hope everyone in Illinois is ready to welcome him back.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger RedDirt said...

You'll find no defense of any of this from the likes of me, Cassandra -- either the actions by Foley or the evident cover-up. This is different from the Dateline stings only in that Foley never showed up at a house to be quizzed on his chat transcript by correspondent Chris Hansen. Otherwise, Foley is akin to the trolls you can observe on NBC on a weekly basis.

I don't think this is indicative of any quality or character of Republicans (that "Grand Old Pervert" stuff was pretty offensive); instead I think it's part of the continuing "eclipse of all value" that Nietzsche predicted would happen in the first years of the 21st century. In other words, not to be apocalyptic about it but simply realistic, the general meltdown of post-Enlightenment Western civilization.

It's really not Republicans who accuse our society of bathing in moral relativism, it's conservatives. And you're right, this is moral relativism at a new low, particularly Rush Limbaugh's abhorrent "thinking out loud" comment. Incidentally, if everything is relative, then the claim "everything is relative" is itself relative -- kind of a rabbit hole, isn't it? It's somewhat heartening that our society still has the capacity to be shocked by things like this. That's likely because of the faint aroma of our civilization's Judeo-Christian heritage still lingering in the air before it's blown away. But give it a few more years, and the eclipse will probably be complete.

I think the Republican leadership's behavior here gives us new insight into that old saw about the corrupting nature of power. If Republican leaders and commentators continue to equivocate, then they can count on conservatives -- particularly religious conservatives -- abandoning them in droves.

At 8:56 AM, Blogger RedDirt said...

Cassandra, it's even more instructive that Jesus goes on to declare "Hypocrite!" with an exclamation point right after saying the words you cite.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger RedDirt said...

As I pointed out earlier, conservatives will not only NOT defend this, they will go after those responsible. Take, for example, the Washington Times editorial today calling on the Speaker to resign....


"His [Foley's] aberrant, predatory -- and possibly criminal -- behavior was an open secret among the pages who were his prey. The evidence was strong enough long enough ago that the speaker should have relieved Mr. Foley of his committee responsibilities contingent on a full investigation to learn what had taken place, whether any laws had been violated and what action, up to and including prosecution, were warranted by the facts. This never happened."

"House Speaker Dennis Hastert must do the only right thing, and resign his speakership at once. Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation, for not even remembering the order of events leading up to last week's revelations -- or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away. He gave phony answers Friday to the old and ever-relevant questions of what did he know and when did he know it? Mr. Hastert has forfeited the confidence of the public and his party, and he cannot preside over the necessary coming investigation, an investigation that must examine his own inept performance."

At 10:53 AM, Blogger Cassandra D said...

So maybe, RedDirt, there is a chance that this scandal will break the lock-step support of the Republicans in power. Maybe the party can clean house. Maybe people will have humility about their leaders. Maybe people will realize that it is not only okay but the right thing to do to question their leaders, even if those leaders SAY the things they want to hear. Maybe people won't trust their leaders to do the right thing. Maybe they will require oversight. Maybe they will see the need for checks and balances. Maybe they will see that the media and the courts need to be strong for the sake of our country. Maybe this will in some way help people understand why, for instance, it is not a good idea to let Bush do whatever he wants regarding torture and detention and wiretapping, without having to let anyone else have any say about it.

All humans fail. That's why every system, from flying an airplane to running a government, needs checks and balances.

Maybe the Republican party is realizing this. And maybe they will see that it applies to lots of situations, not just this one.

So maybe there is room for hope.

And there is plenty of outrage about this. I am not really that liberal. I am just part of the outraged. If you look beyond the rhetoric that pushes your buttons, I think you will find we agree about most things. I think you really are one of us. One of us! One of us! One of us!
Gooble gobble one of us!

At 11:43 AM, Blogger RedDirt said...

"All humans fail. That's why every system, from flying an airplane to running a government, needs checks and balances."

Actually, Cassandra, there's a lot of hope for common ground here, since that's an essential conservative principle.

Conservatives eschew social utopianism, the idea that society can perfect humans. Conservatives believe that social mechanism will always fail, because humans are broken (it's that whole original sin thing), thus the need for a system that relies instead on checks and balances, acknowledges free will, etc.

I don't know about Republicans just realizing it, but if you read Burke, Kirk, etc. you'll see that strain of thought throughout.

At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Brad said...

You were doing so well until "Conservatives eschew social utopianism."

In its words and deeds, Focus on the Family wants nothing less than theocracy -- their own social utopia.

Regular postings at and extol nothing less that the eradication of liberals and Democrats -- their own social utopia.

How many conservative have decamped to Idaho or Utah or West Texas or Eastern Oregon in search of their own social utopia?

"The idea that society can perfect humans" is called eugenics, not "social utopianism."

Proper usage: "Some conservatives eschew social utopianism."

At 1:49 PM, Blogger RedDirt said...

Hey everybody ... it's .... Brad!

You know what? "Some conservatives eschew" is much more accurate, thank you. Although those "some conservatives" are the progenitors of conservative thought (i.e. Burke).

No, Brad, communism is not eugenics, it's social statist utopianism, get it? Same thing for fascism. Not eugenics (though it certainly embraced eugenics).

But hey, no ad hominem attack, bullet point lists about Rove faxes and the like. That's progress! I'm so proud, Brad. Good for you, Brad, good for you!

At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Brad said...

When was "communism" ever brought up? No one mentioned communism. Nor fascism.

You are either seeing things, or inserting things into your opponent's argument that were never there to begin with.

Do I need to go on with the terminology for such action?

You miss the ad hominem attacks?

Well then: Put down the glass pipe, Red Dirt. Clear your brain. You'll stroke out.

We need you healthy for our social utopia's museum.

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous flamewhore said...

I hear Al Franken is running for Senate, so we'll have an opening for a new comedy routine. Brad and Red Dirt need to take their show on the road because they are cracking me up.

At 5:00 PM, Blogger RedDirt said...

I think Brad really doesn't exist. Let's be honest, he's probably an autorantic robot invented by Markos Moulitsas (oh, that's such an ad hominem attack, what have I become?!?)

Brad, dude, seriously.

You said: "The idea that society can perfect humans" is called eugenics, not "social utopianism."

I responded by giving you a clear example of social utopianism: communism, a form of government that tried perfect humans for about 70 years with horrific results.

That's where it entered the conversation. Easy, Brad, easy. It's okay, really.

At 6:44 PM, Blogger Brit said...

ABC has already published one of the exchanges.

And, they've already turned it back onto the liberals. Yesterday on Wolf Blitzer he interviewed a guy who led some conservative family-values voter's org., who first speculated that the Reps. neglected to reoirt their knowledge of the emails for fear of being accused of homophobia (right, because homosexuality and pedophilia always go hand in hand).

Then the guy said, basically, "Well, this is what happens when people preach tolerance for sexual proclivities and advocate causes like gay marriage."

Right. So, its the liberals' fault. Again.

At 8:15 PM, Blogger RedDirt said...

Brit, I've heard that line -- I think the Wall Street Journal first started that meme on its editorial page today or yesterday -- and as a conservative I completely reject it.

That line of logic presupposes that conservatives are utterly helpless to resist PC inclinations thrust on them. That's yet another pathetic bit of excuse-manufacturing.

Everything that Republican leaders and pundits are saying and doing -- the self-victimization, the scripted PR gambit of alcohol rehab, the "PC made us do it" line, the "well, he didn't touch them" defense, the "just naughty e-mails" relativism and now the "I was molested" a youth defense -- is a complete betrayal of conservative principles.

Conservatives are conservatives first, and Republicans second. I think the GOP elite are about to understand that truth in a very painful way. The GOP honchos can spin it any way they like, but conservative Americans aren't about to turn a blind eye to NAMBLA on Capitol Hill.

Let's just be clear: It isn't "the liberals" fault. Conservatives all over the country see that quite clearly: the Washington Times isn't alone. Paul Weyrich and many others have called on Hastert to resign.

The equivocation inside the Beltway just digs a deeper hole for the GOP leadership.

At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Brad said...

Hey's...Red "the blast fax 20 times already" Dirt.

Ah, falling back on the Markos Moulitsas dribble that Mehlman has been trying to make fly for the past three weeks.

Hey kids -- Kos is the new Pelosi! Look scared.

Fancy yourself an independent thinker? Might as well have a chip in your head.

Communism was not an attempt to perfect humans. It was an attempt to perfect an economic system. Or were you reading Letters to the Sherrifs of Bristol during that economics class?

"Autorantic robot"? Now he's resorted to making up words. Nice Byron-sized brain you got there.

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Cassandra D said...

Now now, people. Be nice!

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Brad said...

Yes, Miss Cassandra.

At 10:48 AM, Blogger RedDirt said...

Brad, I thank God for you every day. At last a commenter who's more of a humorless pedant than I! ;-)

At 11:15 AM, Blogger RedDirt said...

Now it's my turn to be the humorless pedant, Brad. Che Guevera -- among other infamous communists -- wrote openly about the need for a "New Socialist Man," a personally transformed human being as a prerequisite to achieving the communist vision. Marx and Engels envisioned things in similar terms. You could look it up. If that isn't social utopianism, I don't know what is.

FYI, the term for a newly-coined phrase or word is "neologism" -- writers like Tom Wolfe do it all the time. But I can't take credit for "autorantic"; that's a Sean Gleeson neologism.

At 12:22 PM, Anonymous Brad said...

Red Dirt, are you Charlotte Simmons?

Neologisms -- can be used for lively effect, but also for lazy language abuse.

Guevara was a communist, but he was talking about socialism.

Socialism (social theory) can exist without communism (economic theory). Think Britain.

Oh and being a humorless pedant, taken to it's logical extreme, is damn funny.

At 12:39 PM, Blogger RedDirt said...

Brad, I think we're about to run everyone off (if we haven't already) and it'll just be you and me in a cold dark room with no one else to talk to ... so I'll be the first to say "uncle."

At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I have made my way through all the comments and I feel like I just watched two teachers' pets roll around on the floor and try to wrestle each other. Criminy!


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