Thursday, October 05, 2006


George F. Will - What Goeth Before the Fall -

George Will's column today is pretty much brilliant. Often a handmaiden for the party, today Will calls the Republicans on their hypocrisy. Referring to Dennis Hastert's complaint that whoever brought forward the Foley e-mails and IMs has disrupted the "story" he and other GOPers are trying to tell, Will says, "Their story, of late, has been that theirs is the lonely burden of defending all that is wholesome. But the problem with claiming to have cornered the market on virtue is that people will get snippy when they spot vice in your ranks."

Will goes on to note the disturbing turn that has taken place among evangelicals. Once, they believed that their religion forbade their active participation in politics. Those were the good old days! Will quotes Ryan Sager, author of The Elephant in the Room: Evangelicals, Libertarians, and the Battle to Control the Republican Party:
"Whereas conservative Christian parents once thought it was inappropriate for public schools to teach their kids about sex, now they want the schools to preach abstinence to children. Whereas conservative Christians used to be unhappy with evolution being taught in public schools, now they want Intelligent Design taught instead (or at least in addition). Whereas conservative Christians used to want the federal government to leave them alone, now they demand that more and more federal funds be directed to local churches and religious groups through Bush's faith-based initiatives program."
These changes have transformed politics, and morphed a mostly tolerable Republican party into one that has festered into a thing revolting to behold, both for many sensible Americans and for most of our allies abroad. The Foley episode only crystallizes in the public mind a dreadful shift that has taken place, as Republicans have harnessed well-meaning (but wrong, nonetheless) people of faith, whipped them into a frenzy, and used their anger for their own ends. In a sense, the entire Republican party is Foley, and a great many Americans who have been taken in by it are those young men, giving the party what it wants--in this case power rather than titillation--in hopes that they'll eventually get what they want out of it, too.

Now all those Americans feel violated. And so, as Will puts it, "If, after the Foley episode -- a maraschino cherry atop the Democrats' delectable sundae of Republican miseries -- the Democrats cannot gain 13 seats [Will concedes the two former gay Republican seats, Foley's and Jim Kolbe's, to the Dems], they should go into another line of work."

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