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Even prior to Laura Schlessinger's racial meltdown, her strong support among the right indicates that the conservative hustle remains potently effective.

"If I am a cruel satirist, at least I'm not a hypocrite: I never judge what other people do. Neither a politician, nor a priest. I never censor what others do. Neither a philosopher, nor a psychiatrist. I never bother trying to analyze or resolve my fears and neuroses" --Federico Fellini

The doctor is out. By now, most people are aware that Dr. Laura Schlessinger plans on quitting her Los Angeles-based, nationally-syndicated radio show because she believes her right of free speech was usurped by those who exercised their own free speech rights when they voiced criticism of Schlessinger's unloading of the N-Bomb on a caller during a broadcast in August.

"I want to regain my First Amendment rights," bemoaned Schlessinger on Larry King Live in August. "I want to be able to say what's on my mind and in my heart."

Nice try, Laura.

In fact, after over 15 years of being able to say, often with disdainful callousness, exactly what she has wanted to say to a national audience of millions, the heat of criticism for having gone too far has given rise to a decision by Schlessinger to storm off in a huff. But don't bet on her being gone for too long, if at all. Dollars have a way of making sense, if you know what I mean.

However, for right now, at least, it's a hearty good riddance. "Doctor" Laura, as is widely known, is a peevish practitioner of physiology who dissembles the persona of a breathtakingly self-righteous psychoanalyst offering -- from a conservative perspective -- adviceon matters regarding personal issues. Like Phyllis Schlafly, Schlessinger is an icon to the conservative right. But she is also yet another in a host of unctuous high-profile conservatives flawed by the kinds of personal issues of their own that ought to raise questions about their credibility as spokespersons for the conservative values they claim to represent.

Schlessinger's reaction to the reaction to her Mel Gibson moment in some ways provides a tidy example of this. By quitting in such a manner-- carping the line of victim and unwilling to accept personal responsibility -- the author of such books as: "How Could You Do That?: The Abdication of Character, Courage, and Conscience" has displayed behavior that unambiguously mirrors the kind for which she regularly castigates her callers. Compounding this is Schlessinger's stubbornly childish refusal to admit that no violation of her First Amendment rights has occurred, or acknowledge that free speech rights permit critics to voice disagreement with her viewpoints.

All this comes against (for Schlessinger) a sordid background of past behavior that opens her further to charges of moral hypocrisy. She reverently advocates abstinence until marriage despite having herself engaged in pre-marital sex; she smugly chastises callers who admit to adultery and she opposes divorce yet she has committed adultery and was married twice. She is unflinchingly scornful of those she considers poor parents yet was estranged from her own mother for 18 years remaining so until her death in 2002, and has raised a son who is alleged to have posted material on his website depicting rape, murder, torture, and child molestation. Finally, although mockingly intolerant of what's best summed up as a culture of promiscuity, she's copped to posing nude for photographs, some of which were taken by the man with whom she had an affair during her first marriage. Some of these photos were posted on the Web. Yet in light of this past and in spite of her current predicament, Schlessinger remains in the confidence of a staunchly protective core of support from fellow conservatives who have found a yet another victim of the liberal establishment, a turn of events that could be interpreted as either a misunderstanding of conservative values, or an illustration of rampant gullibility among many of those Americans who claim those values as their own.

Certainly, aside from Schlessinger there are many other soap-box

conservatives whose wavering character should leave them vulnerable to questions of motive. The right-wing conservative universe seems littered with functional, albeit troubled, hypocritical, and angst-riddled stars who have nevertheless prospered by way of their deft application of the conservative hustle. This would include the usual suspects: Glenn Beck (drugs and alcohol; paranoia; general emotional instability), Rush Limbaugh (drug addiction; overindulgence), Newt Gingrich (adultery); Sen. John Ensign (adultery); Bill Bennett (gambling addiction; sexcapades; overall overindulgence); Sean Hannity (military charity scandal); former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig (wide-stance); Rudy Giuliani (where does one start?); Sharron Angle (general mental instability); Michele Bachmann (bat-sh*t crazy); and of course, George W. Bush (pathological ineptitude).

The character travails of these high-profile conservatives are pretty much widely known. But the ranks are filled with lower-echelon conservatives as well, including: Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), a "family-values" spouting darling of the Christian Coalition exposed as a deadbeat day in an alimony case and caught with a prostitute; Neal Horsely, a far right-wing political figure known for anti-gay advocacy who admitted to bestiality; Former Sen. Jeff Miller, the Republican sponsor of Tennessee's Marriage Protection Act who was divorced due to an affair with an office staffer; Rep. Ed Schrock, a Republican sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment and staunch opponent of gay rights who declined to defend his seat after being heard on audio tape soliciting a same-sex encounter; one-time Illinois Republican Senate candidate Jack Ryan, whose wife divorced him after he escorted her to a sex club and asked that she perform sexual acts; "family values" Republican legislator Mike Duvall of California, a 54 year-old married father of two who was caught bragging about sex romps with a female lobbyist; and Louis Beres, a former executive director of the Oregon Christian Coalition and chairman of his county's Republican Party who admitted molesting three family members.

I could go on but, why bother. However, if you can stomach more, it can be found here.

Meanwhile, as of July of this year, a database drawn up by the New Hampshire Gazette lists 136 certified chicken hawks --individuals known for their strong advocacy of U.S. military interventions but who go to great lengths to avoid serving. This overwhelmingly conservative Republican list includes: George W. Bush; Haley Barbour; Newt Gingrich; John Ashcroft; Dick Armey; Glenn Beck; Neil Boortz; Douglas Feith; Sean Hannity; Bill Kristol; Alan Keyes; Scooter Libby; Rush Limbaugh; Trent Lott; Bill O'Reilly; Mitt Romney; Karl Rove; Joe Scarborough; Michael Steele; Ted Nugent; Clarence Thomas; Michael Savage; Paul Wolfowitz; R. Emmett Tyrell, Jr.; and George Will.

Of course, there are plenty others to be found here.

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Anthony Barnes, of Boston, Massachusetts, is a free-lance writer who leans toward the progressive end of the political spectrum. "When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to (more...)

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Right now it seems to be working. Republicans some... by Anthony Barnes on Wednesday, Aug 25, 2010 at 7:08:38 AM