- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 19, 2000

The stench of partisan hypocrisy hangs heavy over the presidential campaign, and some people who know better insist it's only the aroma of Al Gore's home cooking.
The God talk of Joe Lieberman or G-d talk as a good Orthodox Jew might put it in righteous fear of speaking the name of God is a scandal in church and synagogue from sea to shining sea. The villain, of course, is Al Gore, the pious Southern Baptist who insists he goes about his own work wondering "what would Jesus do?"
One thing we can be sure that Jesus would not do is to convert religious faith to partisan passion, but since we're almost to October it's time to brace for an "October surprise" of more noisy hymn-singing, loud praying and Scripture-quoting in the name of getting elected to office.
We're getting the stench of secular hypocrisy, too. Al and Joe are hiding behind the First Amendment, the holy writ of secular faith, as well as behind the Old and New Testaments. They're threatening to censor movies and music by government fiat, knowing that even if they tried to do that (and of course they never would) the courts would never allow it.
Al and Joe are making this promise to the rubes in the boonies with a nudge and a wink, and Hollywood knows it. Indeed, some of their friends in Hollywood suggested this approach in the first place.
What you do, as Lynne Cheney, the wife of Dick Cheney and the chairman of the Endowment for the Humanities in the Reagan administration, explained on the Sunday political-talk shows, is to "say a few tepid things about how awful it is to market violence and sexually explicit materials to our kids." Then you take an arm load of suitcases to a fund-raiser to collect as much swag from the pornographers as you can carry to the bank.
Consider the big fund-raiser last week, organized by the Hollywood pornographer Harvey Weinstein of Miramax, who produced the hit "Kids," a movie about 13-year-olds getting down and shooting up.
Al and Joe collected millions from Harvey's star-bash on the day after they saluted the devastating report of a U.S. government study on violence and sex in the movies. At the congressional hearings, Joe Lieberman, among others, cried buckets of pious orthodox tears about the degredation of the culture.
"There were people making jokes about the report," Mrs. Cheney said of the Weinstein dinner. "There were scatological remarks about people who are concerned about this issue. There were well, I guess I can only call them X-rated jokes told, with the vice president of the United States sitting there." The vice president joined in the laughter and applause with the enthusiasm of Hillary Clinton planting a kiss on Mrs. Yasser Arafat. Perhaps Al thought this is what Jesus would do.
Al and Joe are smart if not actually pious, as Mrs. Cheney observed. Indeed, Joe is a lawyer, and though it's true that you don't have to be very smart to get through law school you have to be smart enough to understand that the courts take the First Amendment considerably more seriously than pols on the make pretend to do.
"This is wallpaper, this is spin," Mrs. Cheney said of their defense of decency. "This is blur to make people think that they are on the side of parents in this country. In fact, what you can do is very limited, and I think the most powerful thing is to shame people. You do not go to Radio City Music Hall and stand next to one of the very worst offenders when you are trying to shame people. You want to make these people so embarrassed that their friends don't want to have them over to dinner. We've been able to do this with some entertainers Jerry Springer is not thought of as a useful and an important house guest.
"I think we should make other people who are putting poison in the minds of our kids seem as off limits as we have made Jerry Springer seem."
What we have here is a neat reversal of the public perceptions of the two parties. Al and the Democrats, who heretofore have rarely had a kind word for either church folks or restraint and decency in "the arts," have perfected an imitation of what they imagine Jimmy Swaggart and Jerry Falwell to be.
Al played this card once before, a decade ago when his wife Tipper joined a campaign to persuade the music industry to show a little unaccustomed decency. When Al saw how such a modest request could shut off the flow of music money he had Tipper fitted with a muzzle designed to Hollywood's specifications. He learned quickly that it's not important what Jesus would do, but what Bill taught him to do to take the money and run.

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