COLUMN 110, OCTOBER 1, 2004
(Copyright © 2004 The Blacklisted Journalist)
THE MIXING OF RELIGION AND POLITICS OR THE SCOUNDRELS BEHIND GEORGE W. BUSH
[Lionel Rolfe is the author of "Literary L.A." "Fat Man on the Left" and the forthcoming, "The Uncommon Friendship of Yaltah Menuhin and Willa Cather." Portions of this article will appear in Anna Nevenic's "Hidden Agenda: Conservatives, Fundamentalists and the Republican Party."]
They're the most unappetizing gang of hypocrites and liars
ever, these spawn of the "Reagan Revolution." We're talking about Rush
Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Jerry Fallwell and Henry Hyde.
With the coronation of George Bush as president in 2000,
despite the fact hundreds of thousands more citizens had voted for his opponent,
a new level of meanness has been introduced into America's domestic and
international politics. America's claim to being a civilized nation is now
very much in question.
George Bush has shown that America can be a bully, not only
to the world but to its own citizens. He talks but doesn't make sense---he says
things are patently ridiculous and nonsensical, yet the media hardly ever
notices. He's discovered the power of being a bully, because there's nothing
else persuasive about him. But he gets away with it because the media is, for
whatever reasons, letting him get away with it.
Before Bush, leaders usually tried to rule by eloquence, by
wit, by powerful arguments. But Bush wins by bullying and intimidation. And why
not? It's a style that has served the four men we will be talking about here
well over the years.
It might be argued that he gets away with it because the
country has been burdened with the television generation. Ignorance has been
enshrined since television took a firm hold of our national consciousness.
The one good thing about the gang of four is that it seems as
if they eventually get their comeuppance. Thus the victories that come to
bullies like Bush often turn out to be Pyrrhic victories. But lots of people
suffer in the meanwhile---the civilians of Iraq, the financial well-being and
civil liberties of Americans. It sometimes seems as if the whole nation, the
whole world, is marching back to the dark ages. Bush and his gang of four are
truly the American Taliban.
It provides some comic relief when these people end up
looking pitiful or like kooks. But unfortunately they have real political power.
Rush Limbaugh, for example, has become a multimillionaire by pushing right-wing
nostrums. He and Newt Gingrich teamed up to push the "Contract with
Also involved were Henry Hyde, a Republican congressman from
suburban Chicago who specialized in "family values" by opposing all
kinds of abortion but who has been exposed as another philanderer. And then
there was that famed man of the cloth, Jerry Fallwell, who created the far right
fundamentalist religious movement that still provides the storm troopers for
Bush. But more about these folks a little later.
All these men---these soldiers of the "Reagan
Revolution"---have little grace or charm. As bullies, they are big on
getting revenge. That is the hallmark of bullies. That was the subject of Alfred
Jarry, the French playwright who wrote the play, Ubu Roi. These Ubus,
unfortunately, have had a tremendously deleterious effect on the American body
politics as well as the American psyche.
As an example, remember what happened when the Republicans
decided to go after Tom Daschle, who became Majority Senate leader when Sen.
Jeff Jeffords of Vermont defected to become an Independent early in G.W.
Bush's administration. Plainly they were motivated by revenge. In part
Jeffords defected because, as a moderate Republican, he was being treated as a
pariah by the incoming president. The effect of Jeffords? defection was to
make Daschle the majority leader.
So the heat was turned on. The bully mastermind of them all,
Karl Rove, Bush's chief political guru and operative who keeps his offices in
the White House, put out orders to get Daschle. Rush Limbaugh was told to take
the initial shots. Suddenly Limbaugh started calling Daschle, a rather
inoffensive, mild-mannered milquetoast liberal, "El Diablo."
The way Al Franken tells the story, Limbaugh was supposed to
soften up Daschle's flanks by getting his 20 million or so "dittoheads?
(Limbaugh's own word for his loyal followers) to spread the word. Then in the
fall of 2001, ads began appearing in Daschle's district comparing "El
Diablo" to Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and the American Taliban John
One of these ads even asked the question, "What do Saddam
Hussein and Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle have in common?? The answer to
the question, according to these ads? "Neither man wants America to drill for
oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."
Franken, a former Saturday Night Live veteran who
wrote the book Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot And Other Observations,?
talked about another telling moment in Mr. Limbaugh's not so glorious career.
Just before the 2002 elections, the man who was the
conscience of the Senate, Paul Wellstone, Democrat of Minnesota, died in an
airplane crash. With the Senate so closely divided, it was a terrible loss to
the Democrats. But not just for that reason were people upset. Wellstone was a
rarity among Democrats. He stood up to the Bush juggernaut in no uncertain terms
and he refused to be slowed down by the bullying tactics of the Bushies.
When a memorial was held for Wellstone, it was an intensely
emotional and cathartic thing. People were suspicious that maybe what had
happened to Wellstone happened just because he did stand up to Bush. People
didn't say so out loud---not exactly---but many were thinking that it might
have been no accident that brought Wellstone down. Everyone knew that Rove and
Bush would stop at nothing to win. They were bullies not just with words, but
even worse, with "dirty tricks.
So the last thing any of them wanted to see at Wellstone's
memorial were Republicans. Wellstone's admirers wanted the memorial to be a
statement of the need to continue his legacy of fighting for social justice.
That is obviously what Wellstone would have wanted. The presence of piously
grieving Republicans coming to say goodbye to Wellstone at the memorial did not
bring out the most polite behavior in these people. Some of the Republicans were
booed. They got all upset because they weren't made to feel welcome. Why should
they have been welcomed?
One of these---not in person, of course---was Rush Limbaugh,
who said he felt "disgust" and was "depressed" and
"embarrassed" and "near speechless" that some had felt it
appropriate to express a political thought at a memorial for Wellstone. What
The level of chicanery among this gang of four can be
measured in a related matter. Two days after Wellstone's death, former Vice
President Walter Mondale was being urged to replace Wellstone as a candidate.
Limbaugh's old pal Newt Gingrich weighed in with some adroit lying, hoping, no
doubt, to spread rumors among the grieving Minnesota Democrats.
Gingrich chose that time to say that Mondale had chaired a
commission that not only was for the privatization of Social Security but that
also wanted to also raise the retirement age. He neglected to mention that the
commission report (from The Center for Strategic and International Studies) had
a minority report attached to it---written by Mondale, who said he strongly
opposed the recommendation because he did not want to privatize social security
in any way.
You must understand that Republicans have been trying to
destroy Social Security ever since it was created by President Roosevelt during
the great Depression years. In those days Republicans simply opposed social
security, but as more and more people came to rely on it, Republicans had to
take a different tack. They had to talk about privatizing social security, not
eliminating it. Privatizaton of social security would put the funds in the
pockets of Wall Street.
That, of course, would make sure social security does not
stay solvent. Wall Street has always been a gambler's game played successfully
over the long haul by the big boys---not the little old ladies who depend on
social security to stay alive.
We now see President Bush trying to destroy Medicare and
Social Security by the technique of 'starving the beast." That's far-right
lingo for starving the government and bankrupting these programs, either by
having expensive wars, like the one in Iraq, or Bush's recent prescription
drug program, which spends billions not on drugs for poor seniors, but on giving
money to the pharmaceutical companies.
Of course, hypocrisy and just plain old lying has always has
been the hallmark of the far right. The Big Lie of the Nazis was the great
pioneering effort in this regard.
You might be excused for thinking there is indeed some
justice in this poor old world because in 2003, Limbaugh had to publicly admit
he was a drug addict. He was addicted to oxycontin, sometimes known as "cowboy
heroin." Perhaps among his legions of "dittohead? followers, Limbaugh
didn't lose any credibility over this because his "dittoheads? were
likewise addicted. But presumably he won't be able to speak out with quite the
same "authority? he once did.
Limbaugh's old pal Newt Gingrich, the one-time leader of
the house and father of the "contract with America," became known as an
adulterer, and a rather nasty one at that. He served divorce papers on his first
wife when she was fighting for her life in a hospital room from uterine cancer.
Might Gingrich have suffered a loss of some his authority
over his behavior? After all, he was an ally of the Christian Coalition. He is,
supposedly, a Baptist. You have to believe there is some divine retribution yet
alive in this world. When a couple of pious hypocrites like Limbaugh and
Gingrich get revealed for being a dope addict and an adulterer, you would think
they'd shut up, but of course it never works like that.
Limbaugh never was a very appetizing guy. He started out in
radio as a "shock jock?---in the tree-heavy small-town environment of
California's state capital, Sacramento. That was way back in the '80s. He would
trade insults with his listeners---nothing overtly political, in those days. All
very hokey and small- town. He was a very mean-spirited guy---the kind of guy
who you'd expect to kick a cripple, and a lot of his political spiel is the
equivalent of that. Nonetheless, his blustery style proved a perfect match for
his right-wing politics. So much so that he got rich when his spiel hit national
radio in the 1990s. He adopted the
politics of greed and mean.
He got off to a good start by calling Amy Carter, daughter of
President Jimmy Carter, 'the most unattractive president daughter in the
history of the country." But that was just a warmup. When Chelsea Clinton came
along, he turned into some strange sort of stalker and he really outdid himself.
When Chelsea was 13, he did a gag on his television show with
the Clinton's White House dog, clearly meant to say what a dog she was.
How much Limbaugh's being a dope addict will affect his
credibility is hard to say. Right now he appears to be the only slightly
diminished king of talk these days.
Maybe he will overcome, though, because he has Bush in his
corner. Said the president, "Rush
is a great American. I am confident he can overcome any obstacles he faces right
Rush and Gingrich share something in common. They talk a lot
about family values. Of course Rush has gone through three wives so far himself.
No crime there.
But being a dope addict is considered a crime. Until now,
Rush himself considered it a crime.
"There's nothing good about drug use," he once
said. "We know it. It destroys individuals. It destroys families. Drug use
destroys societies. Drug use, some might say, is destroying our country. And we
have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs.
And the laws are good because we know what happens to people in societies and
neighborhoods which become consumed by them. And so if people are violating the
law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and
they ought to be sent up".
But now Rush has been caught. What is clear is that if he were a black or a Latino, he
would already be languishing in prison somewhere.
Limbaugh's second wife had to make her junior college
dropout husband stop sitting around and eating too much and go out and do
something appropriate for the "rugged individualist? he claimed to be. She
got him to at least file for unemployment insurance.
You'll not be surprised to learn Limbaugh is a big hawk on
the military, but naturally he got out of actually serving his country during
Vietnam. Neither did Bush's Cheney or any of the other chickenhawks who pushed
for war while serving in high paying jobs in the Pentagon. Curious.
If you're beginning to suspect that Rush does not always
have a high regard for the truth, bingo! His whole spiel is based on a cavalier
disregard for the truth. He revels in lying. Truth is just not important to
him---it's practically irrelevant to him.
What is key about Limbaugh is who he speaks for. He speaks
for the disaffected white guy in a small town who can't get a job because the
country's been taken over by Jews, blacks, Asians and Latinos and that makes him
Limbaugh tells Bubba it's the fault of the liberals and
minorities. And a lot of Bubbas listen to him---big time! They're the guys
that Howard Dean was talking about when he said that he wanted to talk to the
guys who drive pickup trucks with confederate decals and can't get a decent
Limbaugh is as vicious as they come. He has never stopped
accusing Hiliary Clinton of killing Vincent Foster, for example. You could say
he is shameless, but then what else could Limbaugh be but shameless?
His tirades against ecology are breathtaking in their audacity and espousal of ignorance. There is no problem with ozone depletion, he insists. The problem isn't industrial---it's due to volcanoes,
once told a black caller, 'Take
that bone out of your nose
and call me back.'
Limbaugh has been careful to avoid expressing overt
anti-Semitism, but he isn't so careful about blacks. He once told a black
caller, 'take that bone out of your nose and call me back." Or he opined,
"Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble
He suggested that the NAACP 'should get a liquor store and
practice robberies." When a caller suggested black people should be heard, his
response was 'they are 12 percent of the population. Who the hell cares."
Some people, quite correctly, argue that turning the radio
waves over to the far right was a total violation of the original "Fairness
Doctrine?---it was the law from 1949 until 1987 when Ronald Reagan ended it by
starting to deregulate the broadcast media.
Limbaugh called the interest in reinstituting the "fairness
doctrine? the "Hush Rush? plan, because he thought the fairness doctrine
was aimed at him. In a way, Rush
and all the other right-wing radio show hosts do show the need for a fairness
The problem is that like Father Coughlin in the "30s,
another neo-fascist radio commentator, Limbaugh demonstrated a lot of political
power by working hand in glove with Newt Gingrich. Coughlin was proud of his
ability to give Roosevelt a lot of trouble.
Limbaugh was a prime mover in organizing opposition to
Clinton's early efforts to set up a national health plan, for example. He's
regularly invited on major television shows as an "expert? on everything
from global warming to feminism. In 1993, the National Review dubbed him
the "Leader of the Opposition." In that role, he felt no compunction about
declaring that tobacco isn't addictive, dioxins are good for you---and in
general railing against efforts to clean up dangerous supersites. He liked to
proclaim, in myriad ways, that Mexicans are stupid.
Everyone has heard his famous "feminazis? rant. According
to him, "Women were doing quite well in this country before feminism came
along." This will be interesting news to anyone who knows the history of
feminism in America---feminism began as an offshoot of the abolitionist movement
before the Civil War, and among other things, women wouldn't be allowed to vote
if it weren't for the feminists who won for them that right in the early 20th
It's also educational to learn that when Gingrich and
cohorts in Congress were spending $40 million of taxpayer dollars to investigate
charges against Clinton that ranged from murder to corruption, all they could
come up with was a blowjob with an intern. The $40 million blowjob!
Clinton must have been the most honest politician ever to
come to Washington if that's all they cold dig up on him.
Gingrich was a leader in the lynching by the "Hamas wing of
the Republican Party? against Clinton for his supposedly unpresidential
indiscretion. Yet at the time Gingrich was having his own wild affair with an
intern---even as he called those who dared to disagree with him 'the enemy of
Some say that the problems began when Gingrich got peeved at
Clinton because the president failed to give him a nice seat aboard Air Force
One. Worse, Gingrich felt Clinton was patently ignoring Gingrich on that flight.
Gingrich reacted by peevishly closing down the Congress in an attempt to control
it, which failed spectacularly at the time---1998. His "Contract with
America? was really a contract on America, on Clinton and on the
Democrats and some would argue, by extension, on the nation.
In essence, the Republicans, and in particular, Gingrich,
threw a temper tantrum. They tried to close the government down, a move rejected
by the majority of voters in the 1998 congressional elections when Gingrich was
Gingrich, of course, was engaged in nothing that Republicans
haven't been trying to do ever since Franklin Delano Roosevelt---they were
trying to close down the social compact implied in the New Deal.
As we said, the effort backfired in the 1998 elections. And
Gingrich was forced to back down.
Newt was not of the manor born. There was a kind of
hardscrabbleness to his childhood.
When she was 16, his mother Kit married a hard drinking,
brawling fellow. She left him when he hit her once too many times.
Next, Newt's mother wed Robert Gingrich, who adopted the
boy in 1962.
In the late '60s, Gingrich was smoking dope and married his
high school math teacher to get a deferment from Vietnam.
As a young campaigner in the '70s, he had one main drawback,
according to Dot Crews, his campaign scheduler at the time. "We would have won
in 1974 if we could have kept him out of the office, screwing her [a young
volunteer] on the desk."
Not only did he serve his first wife divorce papers while she
was in a hospital bed, he became a deadbeat dad. The local Baptist Church had to
take up collections for their children because Newt refused to pay support for
them. His wife had to go to court to get him to keep the lights on.
Gingrich liked blowjobs, in part because he could deny having
sex---at least technically. Blowjobs meant you could say you never slept with
He taught at a backwater college in West Georgia where he had
an affair with Anne Manning, wife of another professor there.
Manning explained that Gingrich preferred oral sex. "He
prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, 'I never slept with
Despite the fact that Gingrich appeared at Christian
Coalition events, he also was caught in someone's car with someone's wife
giving him a blowjob. Hence his reelection promise in 1978.
"When elected, Newt will keep his family together." But alas, it was
not to be.
Newt ran for Congress a couple of times in the "70s. He
married his first wife when he was 19. A few years later he got divorced and
married Mary Ginther. As he was having an affair with his next wife to be, he
demanded a couple of congressmen be expelled for having affairs with the pages.
He was elected Speaker of the house in January, 1985.
A decade after that, he was proclaiming to the Conference of
Mayors that Victorian England should be lauded as a model, because it
reestablished, "values, by moral leadership and by being willing to look at
people in the face and say, 'You should be ashamed.'"
This is the same man who also explained about his first wife,
that she wasn't "young enough or pretty enough to be the President's
wife." (She in turn said "I don't want him to be president and I don't
think he should be?).
He was actually considering a run for the presidency in 1996.
In talking about Clinton's problems with Monica Lewinsky,
Gingrich said, "Around the world today, the institution of the presidency has
been degraded to the point that it is viewed as the rough equivalent of the
Jerry Springer show---a level of disrespect and decadence that should appall
He then predicted---on Rush Limbaugh's show----that in
July, 1998, the Republicans would win as many as five seats in the Senate, 400
in the Congress, three governors and 500 state legislators. He later said the
odds were even better than that.
And when the numbers went the other way from what he had predicted, he blamed it on the media fascination with Lewinsky. "I mean, I totally underestimated the degree to which people
dating his third wife while he was
still married to his second wife
would just get sick of 24-hour-a-day talk television and talk
radio and then the degree to which this whole scandal became just sort of
disgusting by sheer repetition."
By November of 1998 he announced he was resigning---and then
actually did resign in January of 1999. He married yet another wife---Calista
Bisek---in August of 2000, a woman described as a "willowy blond Congressional
aide 23 years his junior."
All through the Clinton-Lewinsky adultery scandal, Gingrich
was busy denouncing Clinton for adultery, and he was dating his third wife to be
while he was still married to his second wife. She sang in the National Shrine
Choir. Many a night he would read his Bible while waiting for her at the Shrine
of the Immaculate Conception. They would end up having breakfast together and,
hopefully, a nice time in between.
Newt left behind Marianne, his wife of 18 years.
But perhaps more important than the joys of the flesh, the
sin of lust, was his unerring attraction to money. Such as the deal he made with
Rupert Murdoch, the $4.5 million book deal, the House Banking Scandal in which
he bounced 22 checks, the secret pay raises, the Lincoln Town Car limousine and
chauffeur, the sliding scale between donations made for his politics and those
for his personal comfort.
The famed book deal of 1995 was particularly interesting.
Harper Collins was owned by Rupert Murdoch, of Fox News infamy. Rupert needed
help---a lot of Americans were rather pissed off by his robber baron ways.
Making an overly handsome book advance to someone with whom Murdoch was having
some sort of help with regulatory problem was pretty much a pattern for Murdoch,
whether it was Margaret Thatcher or Jeffrey Archer or Deng Xiaoping's
Gingrich was not terribly forthcoming about the book advance.
He finally admitted he had sat with Murdoch on a park bench the week before the
deal and just talked---perhaps about the weather, because he insisted the book
deal was not discussed.
There were various other little scams---he regularly used
third rate cracker colleges from the south to indoctrinate people in Christian
politics, very much in the same way Saudi-financed Moslem schools teach Moslem
fundamentalist values. He taught a "college course? in right-wing ideology
and rich folks contributed to it. He almost got busted by the proper federal
authorities for that one.
Newt was an academic---he taught history at West Georgia
College. He ran for Congress three times, started in 1974, before he was elected
What is odd, for a man who was patently so avaricious and
kind of a sexual predator, was that he delighted in accusing Democrats of the
same types of things. He made a career of this, in fact until he was hoisted by
his own petard.
He was the evil genius behind the right-wing conservative
sweep that included 'the Contract With America."
Democrats quickly renamed it the "Contract on America,?
because, in fact, that is what it was. Luckily---for America---his monumental
arrogance and venality ultimately sank him, and his career.
Gingrich was and no doubt still is a real piece of work. And,
for that matter, so are the others in the Gang of Four.
He sometimes said nice things about Clinton, because they
were both kind of good ol? boys, with all that implies, but mostly hated him
in the worst kind of way.
At one point, for instance, he proclaimed that Clinton
wasn't warlike enough, as if that was some sort of character defect. (In fact
Clinton racked up quite a bit of mileage on the old military coin box himself in
Haiti, in Yugoslavia, in Africa, and various other places---including Iraq).
What isn't easy to answer is how much of a committed
right-wing demagogue was Gingrich?
A former political adviser who apologized for having
unleashed Gingrich on the nation, L. H. Carter, offered this interpretation of
'the important thing you have to understand about Newt
Gingrich is that he is amoral ... There isn't any right or wrong, there isn't
any conservative or liberal. There's only what will work best for Newt Gingrich.
He's probably one of the most dangerous people for the future of this country
that you can possibly imagine. He's Richard Nixon glib."
Then Carter said that it didn't "matter how much good I
do the rest of my life," the fact he helped create Gingrich will besmirch him
Who is the real ideologue---Gingrich or Limbaugh? The Nazis had plenty of Limbaugh-type characters around, true believers, sort of small-time bullies and thugs who got their chance to be
George Bush is hell-bent on giving America his brand of fundamentalist Christianity
big-time bullies---some of the thugs were physical thugs and
others were intellectual bullies. Gingrich probably had a bit of disdain for
some of the scruffy types around him---but his motivations were crass enough to
But America shouldn't overlook the radical right, and in
particular that unpleasant marriage of Christian fundamentalism combined with
right wing politics--- politics that border on the fascist.
The American Taliban isn't that poor fellow from an idyllic
Northern California who went off to fight with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan.
It's George Bush, who is hell-bent, you should excuse the malapropism, on giving
us his bizarre brand of fundamentalist Christianity.
The conservatives and Christian fundamentalists have an
agenda, to turn this country from pluralism and democracy to having a state
religion. They prefer something more 'religious."
On the furthest right end of the political spectrum the
fanatics are Christian Identity, which is avowedly pro- fascist, and next to
these folks, Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell appear positively benign.
The most powerful theology to emerge from the fanatics is
Christian Identity, which provides the theological doctrines of the KKKs and
militias and the like.
So the Southern Baptist Convention isn't quite Christian
Identity. But the convention has an agenda--- to eliminate the progress that was
won by women in the "20s and civil rights in the "60s.
The major spokesmen of this theology are Pat Robertson and
Robertson is, of course, a media mogul whose Christian
Coalition is possibly the most powerful of all. Robertson has already announced
that Bush will be 'reelected? in 2004 because God has so ordained it.
Jerry Fallwell is a pal.
It was Fallwell, on Robertson's show, who said that the
destruction of the World Trade Center and a portion of the Pentagon was the
fault of the homosexuals, pro- abortionists and civil rights activists.
These candid utterances came 48 hours after the attack. They
came as Fallwell was guesting on Robertson's 700 Club program.
out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of
the public square, out of the schools? were part of the reason God was mad and
allowed the attack, Fallwell averred. 'the abortionists have got to bear some
burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million
little innocent babies, we make God mad."
He explained that in particular he blamed 'the pagans and
the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are
actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the
American Way---all of them who have tried to secularize America ... I point the
finger in their face and say you helped this happen."
"Well, I totally concur," Robinson chimed in.
But it was so embarrassing, even one of the president's
flacks had to say, 'the president does not share those views."
Fallwell was born in 1933 in Lynchburg, Virginia, where he
still heads the Thomas Road Baptist Church, which he founded in 1956. Shortly
after founding the church, he began broadcasting the Old Time Gospel Hour
on radio and television. When he started the church, he had 35 members. Two
decades later he had 16,000 members. He founded Lynchburg Baptist College in
1971, which he later renamed Liberty University.
In 1979, he founded The Moral Majority, which waged war on
abortion, pornography, feminism or homosexuality. It first flexed its political
muscles during the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Oddly enough, Fallwell used to criticize black ministers
involved in Civil Rights because he said ministers shouldn't be politically
But the Moral Majority was an invention of Fallwell and some
other far right activists concerned about finding a way for the Republican Party
to unseat President Jimmy Carter, who was also an evangelical Baptist, but of a
somewhat more benign sort.
Back in 1965, Fallwell had proclaimed "Preachers are not
called to be politicians but soul winners," but when push came to shove, as it
did in 1979, Fallwell became a politician.
In 1980, Fallwell told a fib, if you want to characterize it
generously---he insisted at a breakfast meeting with Carter, he had asked the
president why he had homosexuals among his senior advisors. Carter supposedly
responded he was the president "of all the American people."
Fallwell had to later admit the exchange had never taken
place. He also had to backtrack after he said that "I do not believe that God
answers the prayers of any unredeemed Gentile or Jew." He finally decided that
maybe God did sometimes hear from others than just evangelical Christians. By
1985, he said he would stop talking about the need to "Christianize?
America. He would use the term "Judeo-Christian." He still kept talking
about "Christianizing? everything despite his vow.
Fallwell says he considers himself a good friend of the Jews,
which brings to mind the old saw about with friends like this, who needs
Toward the beginning of the "90s, Fallwell developed an
obsession about Hillary and Bill Clinton---regularly denouncing them almost as
if they were the personal emissaries of Satan on earth. He was one of those who,
like Limbaugh, pushed the notion that Clinton killed Vincent Foster.
No wonder Robertson of the Christian Coalition still invited
Fallwell on his program---Fallwell's Moral Majority had paved the way for the
Fallwell's biggest nemesis is public education. Public
education, in his mind, teaches secularism, humanism and atheism. He wants to
replace public schools with private church schools. Understand this and you will
understand President Bush's relentless assault on public education.
Fallwell makes no bones about blaming declining morality on
"If we are going to save America and evangelize the world,
we cannot accommodate secular philosophies that are diametrically opposed to
Christian truth. We need to pull out all the stops and to recruit and train 25
million to become informed pro-moral activists whose voices can be heard in the
halls of Congress," he said.
In a 1979 book, America Can Be Saved, Fallwell openly
proclaimed, "I hope I live to see the day, when, as in the early days of our
country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them
over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will
Fallwell gets particularly riled up about women's
liberation. He thinks feminists are women who live "in disobedience to God's
laws and have promoted their godless philosophy throughout our society."
He thinks women "need to know Jesus Christ as their Lord
and Savior and be under His Lordship. They need a man who knows Jesus Christ as
his Lord and Savior, and they need to be a part of a home where their husband is
a god leader and where there is a Christian family."
He quotes scriptures to prove that "Because a woman is weaker does not mean that she is less
Most likely dubious characters like Gingrich are probably
more cynical than true believers like Jerry Fallwell and Rush Limbaugh.
Only a true believer could, with a straight face, utter some
of the bizarre things he has uttered. Among his penchant for odd causes---in
1999 he issued a "parents alert? that Tinky Winky, a character on the PBS
children's show Teletubies was gay. An ABC News Web site asked the
question "Is Tinky Winky gay, or is Jerry Fallwell crazy?? By 84.7 to 15.2
percent, people voted for the latter.
But unfortunately, Fallwell is crazy like a fox.
Yet another member of this unholy alliance of four is Henry
J. Hyde, the congressman from the suburbs of western Chicago since 1975 who,
along with Gingrich, led the charge against Clinton's adultery.
These days Hyde is listed as "an expert? on terrorism,
former chairman of the House International Relations Committee.
He's probably best known, however, for leading the
impeachment of President Clinton when he headed up the House Judiciary
An Irish Catholic who grew up a Democrat, by 1952 he had
switched parties to back Dwight D. Eisenhower for president.
His wife of 45 years died in 1992, leaving him four children
and four grandchildren, but before she died he gave her a lot of trouble by
hardly hiding his various affairs. Yet he was a sanctimonious morality leader, a
worthy partner of Gingrich and the rest of the howling mob and demagogues bent
on tearing Clinton from limb to limb for his "immorality."
That is until a man named Fred Snodgrass, a retiree living in
Florida, said he nearly jumped out of his chair when he first saw Hyde on
television talking about Clinton.
Hyde's committee was then deciding whether Clinton's fun
and games with a White House intern should be referred to the entire house for
The 76-year-old Snodgrass said as he was listening to
'these politicians... going on about how he (Hyde) should have been on the
Supreme Court, what a great man he was, how we're lucky to have him in
Congress in charge of this impeachment case," Snodgrass couldn't help but
think that this was the same hypocrite who broke up his family.
Hyde had carried on a five-year affair with Snodgrass's
wife Cherie. Hyde admitted that the affair only ended when his own wife found
out about it. Hyde was a rising star in Republican politics and Cherie Snodgrass
was a beauty stylist. She was Hyde trophy mistress, an attractive beautiful much
younger woman that he flaunted for many years---including some rather painful
moments in front of Snodgrass.
Hyde eventually became a pious Roman Catholic defender of
family values and strong opponent---along with Fallwell
and gang---of abortion.
He also was, not so incidentally, a strong supporter of
Oliver North of Iran-Contra scandal fame, who made a virtue of lying to the
Congress to protect an illegal operation by Reagan's executive branch. During
the impeachment attempt on Clinton, Hyde kept insisting that "lying must have
consequences," a statement that would come to haunt him when the evidence of
his homewrecking ways were revealed.
Hyde was, like many such scoundrels, also attracted by money.
He was involved in a spectacular failure of a savings and loan he was on the
board of. The shenanigans there cost the U.S. taxpayers $67 million.
Clyde Federal Savings and Loan specialized in risky financial
options, including buying certificates of deposit from a bank in the Cayman
Islands, notorious for money laundering.
But Hyde was also known as the father of the "Hyde
amendment," which kept federal funds from being used for abortions for the
Hyde opposes not just partial birth abortions, but abortion
in general. He opposes the U.S. supporting family planning in its international
aid. He voted to make it a crime to harm a fetus while committing another crime
and voted for special funding to those health providers who don't provide
information on abortions. And he wanted federal aid only to go to schools that
have voluntary prayer.
Hyde provided the Catholic support of the protestant
fundamentalists. He doesn't much believe in the separation of church and
state. Freedom of speech and the press are not high on his list. He talked about
how some churches are 'real," others are not.
Especially when you combine that with strong support for
Marine Colonel Oliver North and the Nicaraguan Contras and Iran-Contra, it's not
an appetizing sight.
Of course Mr. Snodgrass might not have such a benign view of
Henry Hyde either. His wife had been the mother of his three children, but Hyde
kept her out until the early morning, nightclubbing, lavishing her with jewelry
and furniture, and eventually her own apartment.
Mrs. Snodgrass later said she realized she hadn't been
Hyde's first mistress, nor his last. She said she eventually came to believe
"he's bad for the country; he's too powerful, and he's hypocritical."
Hyde responded to the article in Salon exposing his
shackup job by saying Salon didn't deserve the protection of the first
amendment. Rather, he said, it constituted "a violation of federal criminal
Tom DeLay, another powerful Republican congressman, whose
office sports signs about how today might be the first day of the End of Days,
described the article as "a direct assault on the United States.
For Hyde's part, he denounced those who greeted the Slate
Magazine article about his indiscretion with the statement that "our most
formidable opponent has been cynicism, the widespread conviction that all
politics and politicians are by definition corrupt and venal."
In an ironic kind of way, of course, he was right.
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IN THIS 615-PAGE PAPERBACK, AL ARONOWITZ, ACCLAIMED AS THE "GODFATHER OF ROCK JOURNALISM," TELLS YOU MORE ABOUT BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES THAN ANY OTHER WRITER CAN TELL YOU BECAUSE NO OTHER WRITER WAS THERE AT THE TIME. AS THE MAN WHO INTRODUCED ALLEN GINSBERG TO BOB DYLAN, BOB DYLAN TO THE BEATLES AND THE BEATLES TO MARIJUANA, ARONOWITZ BOASTS, "THE '60S WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THE SAME WITHOUT ME."
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