Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Getting the best of the hobgoblins

Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, January 19, 2005

"A foolish consistency," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is the hobgoblin
of little minds." An otherwise unreadable 19th century essayist who has
driven more students out of American lit courses than James Fenimore
Cooper and Alice Walker combined, Emerson became the patron saint of
opinion columnists everywhere with that happy thought. (A hobgoblin is
a malicious ghost; like Ann Coulter with a sense of humor, I suppose.)

Emerson didn’t mean that consistency itself was suspect, only the
foolish kind, "adored by little statesmen and philosophers and

Little statesmen like Fearless Leader, I suppose, incapable of
admitting even other people’s errors if somebody might think he
changed his mind.

Washington Post reporters recently asked George W. Bush why nobody
had been held accountable for screw-ups in Iraq such as nonexistent
weapons of mass destruction or the citizenry’s failure to strew flowers
in the path of American invaders, as administration ideologues predicted.

The president responded with a non sequitur. "We had an accountability
moment," he said, "and that’s called the 2004 elections. The American
people listened to different assessments made about what was taking
place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates, and chose me."

Louis XIV, 17 th century king of France, put it more succinctly:
"L’etat, c’est moi." (I am the state.) But I digress, and somewhat

My inability to apprehend Bush’s famous charm, much less his
alleged humility, guarantees a slew of even more predictable e-mails
from furious supporters informing me that I’m twisted with unreasoning
hatred for this fine, Christian leader.

Some urge me to seek spiritual or professional help. Others content
themselves with animadversions about my imagined personal life,
normally very wide of the mark. They can be unintentionally funny.
Suddenly every Rush Limbaugh fan thinks he’s an FBI profiler.
Somebody should remind them that accusing dissenters of being
crazy ain’t conservative; it’s the hallmark of authoritarian governments
everywhere. Anyway, in theinterest of more stimulating correspondence,
a few unsolicited, hopefully inconsistent opinions on topics in the news:

An awful lot of what people call "Christian" on TV is sheer tribalism.
I’m thinking of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson first blaming 9/11 on
homos and unwed mothers, then backpedaling when that didn’t play. Also,
the following charming observations on MSNBC’s "Scarborough Country"
from William Donohue, Ph. D., of the Catholic League, a right-wing
organization purporting to represent the church: "Who really cares what
Hollywood thinks?... Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate
Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It’s not a
secret, OK? And I’m not afraid to say it. Hollywood likes anal sex.

They like to see the public square without Nativity scenes. I like families.
I like children. They like abortions."

You’d think a church hierarchy negotiating hush money with altar boys
would distance itself from this loon. You’d think TV talk shows would
hesitate to put him on the air. You’d be wrong on both counts. On an
anatomically related topic, Armstrong Williams likely wasn’t the only
Beltway pundit on the take from the Bush administration. I’ll bet the
Tight Sphincter Club has plenty of members about now. See, FCC
regulations make it a jailable offense to be a paid spokesman without
disclosure. According to a recent survey in the Los Angeles Times, only
one American in three knows who delivered the Sermon on the Mount. No
point asking, "What Would Jesus Do?" They haven’t got a clue.

Astonishing public ignorance is the great unmentionable of American
journalism. Remember that when the Iraq war started, only 17 percent of
U.S. students could find it on a map. That explains a lot.

That Red Sox first-baseman hoarding the ball he caught for the last
World Series out is being a jerk. I watch maybe 200 games a season, and
I wouldn’t walk across the street to see it. A baseball’s pretty much a
baseball. But to some fans, it’s like a holy relic. A guy paid $1.75
million a year "for defensive purposes" ought to show some respect and
hand it over. Pundits who used the Indianapolis Pacers-Detroit Pistons
brawl to trash the NBA for playing "street ball" and other euphemisms
for "irresponsible Negroes" can’t have seen many games recently.

Featuring players from 34 countries, the NBA’s gone world-class, and
the level of play is higher than ever. Any knowledgeable fan could put
together an international All-Star team that a U. S.-only team would
struggle against. Campus reformers struggling against certain kinds of
"sexism" are doomed to fail. Jocks and babes have always gotten more
attention than they deserve, always will. Read "The Iliad." The Trojan
War started over a babe (Helen), and a jock (Achilles) got all the
attention. Homer knew. Speaking of Trojans, I enjoyed watching effete
blue-state Southern Cal humiliate red-state Oklahoma in the Orange

Arkansas visits Southern Cal next October. Houston Nutt could get fired
at half-time.

• Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient
of the National Magazine Award.


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