Thursday, December 8, 2011

Newt and Fellow Conservatives: Hardly a Love Fest

How is the current ascendancy of the Newt being received by his fellow conservatives, Gene Lyons asks at Salon?  Not so well.  

Lyons writes, 

Newt Gingrich is the Jimmy Swaggart of American politics, a confidence man so transparent as to test the faith even of True Believers. Paradoxically, that’s precisely why the disgraced former speaker looks a good bet to secure the GOP presidential nomination.
Not seeing through Gingrich’s bare-faced mendacity requires an effort of the will so profound it can only be accomplished with the aid of strong countervailing emotions — essentially the envy, resentment and fear that right-wing media have fomented among the faithful ever since the election of President Clinton and the 1994 “Contract With America.” 
Metaphorically speaking, Gingrich’s candidacy is the love child of Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, with Fox News throwing the baby shower.

Strong terms: a transparent confidence man full of bare-faced mendacity. They make the continued infatuation of more than one Catholic centrist with a man whose moral vacuity seems apparent to everyone but themselves--even to Newt's cronies--curious in the extreme, don't they?

Has the single-issue anti-abortion politics of the past few decades really made us American Catholics so stupid and so morally obtuse that we can't see the embarrassing charade being played out right in front of our noses for the charade it is and has been all along?  That the political leaders claiming to be pro-life and intent on stopping abortion, to whom we keep giving a pass because they belong to the "religious" and "moral" party and the other side is neither, don't have a pro-life bone in their bodies.  And have never had any intent to address the real causes of abortion and therefore to diminish abortions in the U.S.

As I listen to American Catholic centrists solemnly intone that Newt needs to be given a special dispensation because he's, after all, a member of the godly party (and a good Catholic, to boot), and that his religion really should be off-limits in the presidential campaign while Mr. Obama ought to be required to prove his faith through perfervid declarations that he believes in God, I conclude that we American Catholics have become downright morally inane.

And that almost anything we have to say about politics right now is beside the point, since we have become so fixated on the single issue of abortion (without understanding how that issue is set within a much broader spectrum of life issues) that we can't see the forest for the trees any longer (or can't distinguish the camel from the gnat), morally speaking.  And while we soldier on for the right of fetal life, we remain utterly silent about the human rights of gay and lesbian people who are subject to fierce discrimination and outright violence around the world--as if the two are not integrally connected.  And as if our refusal to support the human rights of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters doesn't utterly undermine what we profess to believe about fetal rights and the value of fetal life.

P.S. Robert Scheer offers a similar take at Truthdig today: he maintains that "the driving faith of the GOP has become the notion that the toxic mixture of moral hypocrisy and unfettered greed is a formula for victory."  And this appeals to the "religious" base of the party, which was ready to tear the nation apart over the philandering of a Democratic president a number of years ago, but will gladly send a morals-spouting Republican to the White House even when he's on his third wife and has a history of cheating on each previous wife with the subsequent one.

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