LYONS: "BUSH BIZARRO WORLD"
Here's Gene Lyons's column for the week. Since I was out of town yesterday, I didn't get it posted.
October, 22, 2003
Bush Bizarro World
Either Rush Limbaugh's housekeeper has been doping my morning coffee, or we are living in Bizarro World. If you don't recall the old DC comics, Bizarro World was created accidentally by the mad scientist Lex Luthor in a futile quest to clone Superman for evil purposes. Bizarro Superman turned out to have most of the Man of Steel's powers, but none of his intelligence.
Greenish in hue and speaking pidgin English like Tarzan or George W. Bush, he showed up at the Daily Planet and began stalking Lois Lane. Needless to say, the real Superman defeated his rival in aerial combat, although Bizarro World adventures became a continuing theme, a distorted mirror image of the caped crusader's preferred reality of"Truth, Justice and the American Way."
So has Lex Luthor cloned the GOP? The State Department's battling the Pentagon over Iraq, the CIA's at war with the White House over who leaked a covert operative's identity, Rush Limbaugh's a junkie, a steroid-enhanced masher's governor of California, a three-star general's making speeches claiming that God appointed George W. Bush to fight a Holy War against Satan's Islamic allies, and what's the big problem worrying conservative pundits?
Why a scourge of irrational"Bush-haters." Columinists at the New York Times and Washington Post have advanced to the Bizzaro World notion that people who think Bush lies a lot are the equivalent of crackpots who wrote best-selling books and peddled videos portraying Bill Clinton as a drug dealer and serial murderer.
But let's forget the serious stuff and have some fun with sex, drugs, and Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, shall we?
Spare me the crocodile tears about poor Rush Limbaugh, OK? Here's a guy who's become a multi-millionaire celebrity by masquerading as Mr. Personal Responsibility and mocking the weaknesses of others. No sooner had Limbaugh been forced to admit he was addicted to prescription pain-killers--Schedule II narcotics, incidentally, like heroin and cocaine--than his own words got thrown in his face.
The answer to harsh prison terms given African-Americans, Limbaugh argued, wasn't mercy."Too many whites are getting away with trafficking in this stuff," he said."The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we're not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them and send them up the river, too."
Discussing an NBA player's drug problems on TV, Limbaugh once said that experts be damned,"I don't buy into the disease part of drug abuse. The first time you reach for a substance you are making a choice."
No sooner did Rush get caught in a Federal drug probe, however, than he lapsed into therapy-speak. Suddenly drug addiction wasn't a crime, but a medical problem. Just as compulsive gambling mutated from a moral to a psychological problem after"Book of Virtues" author Bill Bennett needed to have his fingers surgically removed from a slot machine lever."Defining deviancy down," Republicans used to call it.
To me, the last word on Limbaugh was pronounced by Joe Seehausen, executive director of the Libertarian Party."America's drug warriors are shameless hypocrites who believe in one standard of justice for ordinary Americans and another for themselves, their families and their political allies."
Regarding Gov.-elect Schwarzenegger, it was funny watching Bizzaro World pundits who'd waxed apoplectic over Bill Clinton's idiotic dalliance with Monica Lewinsky suddenly unable to distinguish between consensual and forced sex. Conservative Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman, however, nailed them:
At best, the evidence indicates that Schwarzenegger has a habit of sexual battery….When Clinton submitted to oral sex with Monica Lewinsky, conservatives thought it was morally repugnant. They also thought it disqualified him from remaining in office…Yet they're happy to have as governor of California someone who, by his own admission, has forced himself on unwilling women. Their new darling is a more aggressive sexual predator than the president they tried to remove from office. Morality? Law? They'll leave it to liberals to fret about such irrelevancies. But if the charges persist and multiply, I predict conservatives will find a way to address Arnold's behavior: They'll blame it on Clinton."
Then there's Gen. Boykin, the new deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence. In church speeches, Boykin has shown photos he says depict"demonic presences" over Muslim cities. An adept of the"my-God-is-red-hot, your-god-ain't- diddley-squat" school of fundamentalist theology, he boasted of telling a defeated opponent who'd invoked Allah that"my God was a real God and his was an idol."
Since an alleged"Christian-Jewish crusade" against Islam constitutes Osama bin Laden's single best recruiting slogan, you'd think Boykin would be cashiered. But now he says he didn't mean it. In Bush Bizarro World, that's good enough.
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