If only for a brief, but bright, spell, Americans are fed up with hypocritical Right Wing blowhards.
The Lord at last has issued his thundering answer in response to all the Right wing prayers of the past decade.
His writ is to be found in the New York Times Best Seller List in which three of the top 10 best sellers include Dude, Where is My Country? by Michael Moore, Lies (And Lying Liars Who Tell Them) by Al Franken and Bushwhacked by Molly Ivins. And oh yes. For the record and without any spin, there is also a book by Bill O’Reilly titled, Who is Looking Out For You?
Let us start with the first of these Giants. William Bennett dominated the 1980s and 1990s with his unrelenting lectures on morality. With his books on virtue, he became something of a Moral Avtar standing guard against the disappearing morality of Americans. Every way you looked, there he was, hectoring parents, teachers and self-taught moralists on how to behave and how to draw lessons from the past. He successfully recycled fairytales and historical lore to supplement what he protested was missing from family and public life: good, old-fashioned morality. He became a star of the Right. Variously a drug czar, secretary of education and even potential presidential material.
It was sinfully beautiful to watch Bill Bennett dance around his retractions, his apologies and his explanations. First he said he did not feel guilty, because he had not used the “family milk money.” Then he said he was fully in control of his addiction and that made it a different problem altogether. Almost every other blowhard of the Right, such as Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, came to his defense. Their justification was that Bill Bennett had never preached specifically about gambling, so it was acceptable that he had indulged in it. It turned out he did preach about that as well.
We concur with liberal commentator Michael Kinsley who opined that watching Bill Bennett squirm had him convinced that there was God after all. Finally, there is some other power watching over and punishing these blowhards who make millions hectoring us on the so-called lack of morality among Americans. They think they are above the law and above the moral code they lay out for us simply because they are so in charge of telling us what to do.
The list of these pretentious and pompous teachers on the Right is too long. The public fall of a private person is nothing new in our age or any other. But the divine pleasure in watching the Right preach morality and then come up with all kinds of “holier-than-thou” explanations for their own sins, oh Jim Baker, alas my Lord Jimmy Swaggart, hallelujiah, there is indeed a God and She must be watching over us right now!
Glory, O Lord, for Rush Limbaugh!
There hasn’t been a bigger blowhard with most of his brain tied behind his back. There hasn’t been anyone more smug, more pretentious, ah well, more of a blowhard than Rush Limbaugh. For three-four hours a day, five days a week, he lectured us just how things were wrong with progressives of every stripe. Listen to him for a day and you would think the Devil was here walking in our midst in the form of Liberals and the Left. No one could do anything right except the Right itself. They get so pumped up with all their huffing and puffing that they float over all of us and assume this omniscience of the good Lord herself. But if their God is listening, she does dispense Sweet Justice every now and then!
This time it came in the form of a revelation that Limbaugh is addicted to painkillers by the thousands. There are even allegations afloat about technical violations of money launderin and drug trafficking laws and what not. Nothing may come of them, but in the meantime, Limbaugh had to admit to the addiction and he went on a one month long hiatus from his loudmouth excursions into Excellence in (Blowhard) Broadcasting.
There fell another star of the Right.
But Limbaugh has not given up. Even in his confessionals in public, in pompous speeches, he could not give up posturing that he was a better drug addict than most Liberals. Unlike liberals, he could not blame his addiction on any social ill, he said. Instead, he blamed it on his failed surgery and a persistent pain. Well, now you know, Limbaugh. Liberals just do not have the clever pretensions that you do. Those poor miserable creatures think there are social causes to individual problems. You think there are other individual reasons for individual pain. The point, ditto head, is that you are asking for forgiveness for a deadly addiction.
The incestuous love among these Right-wingers is so intense that they step up to help each other from faltering. When he heard of Limbaugh’s problems, President Bush said Limbaugh was a great American and he wished him the best. Great American? Of course, he is. Any lying and pretentious hypocrite can see that. Bush can surely see that! Is there a lesson in morality here? Any thought on why the rest of the world is so angry at this country? Should we teach that to our children, on what makes a great American?
Bill Bennett rushed to Good Morning America to Limbaugh’s aid. His explanation this time: Limbaugh is an entertainer and as such the sins of entertainers are more forgivable. On another platform, you could hear Bill Bennett rap that the sins of Hollywood entertainers were ruining this country.
Then there was the parade of other patron saints of the Right lining up to defend Limbaugh. Hannity and Grant and O’Reilly looked upon his “admission” as a heroic act – that he was seeking to overcome his fallibility by facing up and moving forward.
Gone were the relentless attacks on the morality of a whole creed of people by these Right wing talk show blowhards. Gone were the rhetorical flourishes of the Clinton era when they could place the blame of individual sins on a whole group or a generation or a set of believers. All you heard were the syrupy affirmations about how Limbaugh was fighting it. There was no mention of Limbaugh’s shameless hypocrisy urging stiff sentences for criminals who are involved in drug trafficking. There was nary a peep about how this “rugged individualism” could fall so low under the weight of its own hypocrisy. How come the Gods of self-discipline and guards of moral fiber lost it so disgracefully?
We are not even bringing up the likes of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his ilk. Now a consultant to Fox News, he is flying around pretending he did nothing wrong when he was blowing rage against Clinton’s indiscretions while keeping a mistress, which finally broke up his own marriage. If you ask for his interpretation of history, as he was by Susan Stamberg on NPR recently, he will assert that all Clinton is about is infidelity and an affair with an intern and what Gingrich is about is a whole set of revolutionary legislations, like balanced budgets, welfare programs, etc. You have to admire the pretentious duplicity of these guys: they have elevated hypocrisy and lying to a new art form?
The only way to deal with this is laughter. Loud, earth shattering laughter.
Al Franken put us on that path with his satirical look at the Right and particularly at Bill O’Reilly. With his self-tailored show, The O’Reilly Factor or often simply The Factor, O’Reilly blows into your ears and into your living rooms with his own worldview, which he says, avoids spin. Five days a week, O’Reilly holds court on Fox TV asking guests questions, which are punctuated by his diatribes, accusations and judgments. The idea is that you don’t get any spin. Sure enough.
There is no middleman here. You’ve got to admire that. O’Reilly does all that by himself. The popularity of his show only testifies that Americans are tired of all other spins; they love this direct vitriol, which passes for journalism or even entertainment.
O’Reilly’s is a careful persona, crafted to suggest that he is a hero, a man with honest and upright upbringing, a model for the lesser humans who watch him. Al Franken and his dozen or so student assistants at Harvard conducted a research project to investigate claims by O’Reilly about himself. Many of them, they concluded, turned out to be lies and Al Franken presents their findings in a satirical form, poking fun at the style of O’Reilly’s as much as the content of what he has been claiming so far.
While the moral indiscretions of the Right simply prove that they are small human beings like the rest of us (and not Gods or preferred children of Gods, as they claim to be), the truly scary thing about them is their contempt for free speech. They seem to think that free speech is a shield to openly support their Commander in Chief, their own minions here and there, and it is an bludgeon to attack anything that seems to dissent from their own worldview.
This attitude alone explains a lot about why the Right has gotten hold of the airwaves as effectively as it has. O’Reilly and Fox sued Al Franken seeking to block publication of the book, which they said amounts to defamation (entertainingly enough, that is a title of a book by another Right wing blowhard, Ann Coulter). By all accounts, the court had a hard time quelling the resulting laughter and the judge summarily dismissed the case. Win one for free speech!
O’Reilly’s gift is akin to a child’s who loves to hurl insults at people out of his own window, but dare not wander into the street. We can be open to believing O’Reilly if he wants to argue that Al Franken and the Harvard team cooked their investigation, but he never engages the debate on factual issues. He likes to stroke his own ego and on that count, he is like the rest of them. On a recent Fresh Air show with Terry Gross (NPR), O’Reilly got testy and walked out of the set as questions were directed at his style of dealing with critics. At least you’ve got to give credit to Bill Bennett and Rush Limbaugh who have a good spin on their own sins and hypocrisies. O’Reilly wants to avoid spin so much that he does not even want to get into debating the factual issues surrounding his life and work.
After all of this, Yo immigrants, you’ve got to love the Liberals and the Left. We enjoy life as it comes, with its sins and pleasures, with its ups and downs and with its style and adventures. Sure, once in a while, we find someone who says he didn’t inhale, but that is such a good line you admire his chutzpah with a chuckle. Sure, once in a while, we end up with someone who sleeps with an intern and does not admit it outright, but then we did not elect him not to sleep with interns!
But by and large, we admit to having some fun every now and then. But then we are ready to talk about women’s rights and other serious stuff. That is the way life is and the Lords of the Right miss out on all the fun and ever so often when they venture out, they get caught and stand disgraced.
Thank you, O Lord for such simple pleasures.