Saturday, August 06, 2005

Civil Commotion � I remarked just yesterday �

Civil Commotion
I remarked just yesterday …
Bob Felton @ 11:21 am
… that the transformation of the Republican party into the political arm of the conservative evangelical movement had much to do with the vapid shrillness of worn-out hacks like Brent Bozell, the disintegration of a sane center that created a void for extremists to fill and — What do you know? — now come multiple examples with the morning headlines.
Drudge reported yesterday that the New York Times was looking into the adoption by Supreme Court nominee John Roberts of his 2-children; the Times has confirmed the report.
What on earth could that be about? Foreign adoptions are notoriously slow, cumbersome, and expensive, and my guess is that they were looking for indications that he pulled strings to hasten matters. Though children die of starvation daily in one South American pesthole after another, prospective parents often wait years for children to become available. If he had found an underhanded way to expedite things, it wouldn’t take much imagination to turn it into a tale of misused privilege and fire-up a ruckus.
But would it evidence a deal-killing character defect? I am myself an adoptive father, and forced myself to remain (mostly) quiet through 3-years of bureaucratic insanity in the course of an expensive but relatively uncomplicated domestic adoption. If somebody had told me that a few-hundred bucks would expedite things I would probably have held my nose and paid the bribe just to be rid of the bureaucrats and make my wife happy. So I don’t think that adoption irregularities are necessarily problematic.
It was a cheap, nasty, shot in the dark, and the editor who detailed a reporter to look into the adoption owes the Roberts family an apology.
Mean time, disgust with the destructive conduct of so much of the media is affirmed.
Columnist Robert Novak stalked off the set of CNN’s Inside Politics last evening following a testy exchange with James Carville, the slimy, one-time advisor to Bill Clinton who successfully adapted Big Lie propaganda techniques to American politics.
“This is bullsh**,” Novak said — and he’s right. It is bullsh**. It has been bullsh** for years — thanks, in substantial part, to the faux gladiatorial antics of such as Novak. Live by the noise, die by the noise, I guess.
They have finally sunk so low that they disgust even themselves.
And now comes James Dobson with his own deranged message of Epic Conflict: stem-cell research, he says, is just like the medical research of the Nazi death camps.
Dobson’s comments were part of a two-show series on embryonic stem-cell research. The second episode aired Thursday.
“But I have to ask this question,” Dobson said during Wednesday’s program. “In World War II, the Nazis experimented on human beings in horrible ways in the concentration camps, and I imagine, if you wanted to take the time to read about it, there would have been some discoveries there that benefited mankind.”
Unless ethics and morality guide scientific research, “you get what happened in Nazi Germany,” Dobson said.
It is hard to overstate the recklessness of Dobson’s remark. First, he is one of the nation’s most prominent anti-abortion figures, and a psychologist; he must know that such statements will be interpreted by nascent Eric Rudolph’s as moral sanction to get busy and start killing “Nazis” for Jesus.
Second, he is wrong on the science and the history. The Nazi medical experiments were the work, mainly, of sadistic perverts, conducted in secret, and made no pretense of finding “cures” for anything — besides non-Aryanism, that is. Contrarily, stem-cell research has already yielded real benefits to real human beings, and has been accompanied by extensive public consideration of the ethical issues.
And then he went further and took a cheap, needless shot at Nancy Reagan.
Dobson then homed in on Nancy Reagan, wife of the late President Ronald Reagan, and their son Ron Reagan, who are outspoken supporters of embryonic stem cell research. “Claude, I have watched from a distance how firmly President Bush has approached this subject and how uncompromising he has been. He’s under tremendous pressure from the media, from the Nancy Reagans of the world and the Ron Reagans of the world and from, now, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House.”
Good grief! If there’s any woman anywhere who is a model for intelligent, selfless, dignified, stand-by-her-man devotion — cherished Christian behavior — it’s Nancy Reagan — especially during the last decade of Ronald Reagan’s life.
And Dobson presumes to offhandedly dismiss “the Nancy Reagan’s of the world"? I would that there were a great many more Nancy Reagan’s in the world.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and the void left by the disintegration of the news media into endless cataracts of manufactured drama has been filled by Dobson and his minions, heralds of a different drama, though it proceeds with the same formula as all the others: Conflict. Dobson offers not only the Epic Conflict between Good and Evil — thus his too-frequent references to nazism and the Klan — he invites participation. Yes! You, too, can be a part of the conflict! Instead of watching those television bores beat each other senseless in front of the cameras before adjourning to the bar for a few companionable highballs, just follow him into the voting booth and vote for the God of Calvin and watch the wicked scatter!
It’s sad. Dobson has made a ridiculous figure of himself, though in fact he is a man of great and worthy achievement. Whatever one thinks of Dobson’s politics, it’s small to deny him credit for the creation of Focus on the Family and for the good work it does. The ministry is loved by millions, and not without reason. It’s no trick at all to find people — perhaps on your own street, and certainly in your own church — who tell stories of hopelessness relieved, problems solved, welcome comfort, for the cost of a few minutes-long telephone call to Colorado Springs.
Nor should it be denied that much of the Ministry’s success stems from Dobson’s genial, common-sensical persona. But it seems now that it was only a persona, a face he wore for his fans. There is nothing likeable about James Dobson the political activist.
He should stick to what he’s good at.

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