Thursday, November 11, 2004

On 'Moral Values,' It's Blue in a Landslide

In the NY Times, Frank Rich on the limits of the values showdown:

"The 22 percent of voters who told pollsters that 'moral values' were their top election issue - 79 percent of whom voted for Bush-Cheney - corresponds almost exactly to the number of voters (23 percent) who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians. They are entitled to their culture, too, and their own entertainment industry. And their own show-biz scandals. The Los Angeles Times reported this summer that Paul Crouch, the evangelist who founded the largest Christian network, Trinity Broadcasting Network, vehemently denied a former employee's accusation that the two had had a homosexual encounter - though not before paying the employee a $425,000 settlement. Not so incidentally, Trinity joined Gary Bauer and Fox News as prime movers in 'Redeem the Vote,' the Christian-rock alternative to MTV's 'Rock the Vote.'


But the distance between this hard-core red culture and the majority blue culture is perhaps best captured by Tom Coburn, the newly elected Republican senator from Oklahoma, lately famous for discovering 'rampant' lesbianism in that state's schools. As a congressman in 1997, Mr. Coburn attacked NBC for encouraging 'irresponsible sexual behavior' and taking 'network TV to an all-time low with full frontal nudity, violence and profanity being shown in our homes.' The broadcast that prompted his outrage on behalf of 'parents and decent-minded individuals everywhere' was the network's prime-time showing of Steven Spielberg's 'Schindler's List.'

It's in the G.O.P.'s interest to pander to this far-right constituency - votes are votes - but you can be certain that a party joined at the hip to much of corporate America, Mr. Murdoch included, will take no action to curtail the blue culture these voters deplore. As Marshall Wittman, an independent-minded former associate of both Ralph Reed and John McCain, wrote before the election, 'The only things the religious conservatives get are largely symbolic votes on proposals guaranteed to fail, such as the gay marriage constitutional amendment.' That amendment has never had a prayer of rounding up the two-thirds majority needed for passage and still doesn't."

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