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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/3/10

The Modern Conservative Sleaze Factor

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Message Gregory Paul

Now, Ameroconservatives who believe in the existence of a creator lord think they alone are the true, godly Americans who hew to the genuine American way, and believe that everyone else is outside the norms of faith and country to a greater or lesser degree. I imagine many of them just cannot understand how a decent American could not agree that their way is the one true blue or is it red these days -- way. And theocons go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about principle and honor and virtue and self discipline and pious purity, and the need to return to these traditional values if we are to keep this here country from going to hell in a hand cart.Â

Theocons hold special contempt for the self absorbed, hedonistic, oversexed, baby boomer counter-culture of the sixties that they opine still contaminates American culture because, according to theocons, of the cynical schemes of the liberal-secular elite. The theocon dream is for America to return to the good old days of, say, the 1950s, when theoconservative nuclear family values still reigned. The religious right wing punditry and promotion of this line is endless, involving think tanks such as Heritage, American Enterprise, Discovery Institute, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, Answers in Genesis, and a list of pundits including your O'Reilly, Coulter, Beck, Limbaugh, Bennett, Hannity, Malkin, Schlafly, D'Souza, and Stein. Not to mention a whole lot of Ameroevangelical leaders from Warren on down.

What I doubt is that the theocon minority, they make up between a fifth and a third of America depending on assorted factors, fully appreciate how they appear to the rest of the population. Now, they kind of know they have been screwing up of late what with all the assorted scandals religious, political and personal coming from their ranks. But what they do not get is the extent to which they look like a bunch of out of control cynical hypocrites whose vaunted value system is working out about as well as the maiden voyage of the Titanic.

One reason for this mess is because conservative doctrine is not a practical way of running a society, it being too supernaturalistic and unrealistic to produce the results it promises. But there is another reason for the theocon failure that was exposed by the apparent and self-destructive idiocy of conservative tabloid style "journalist" James O'Keefe. The dirty little not-so-secret fact about conservatives is that a lot of them actually adore and delight in the sleazier end of the counter-culture sensibilities they pretend to despise.

After O'Keefe and his darn good looking coworker Hannah Giles exposed dubious ethical practices by some ACORN employees early in 2009 the political right embraced them both as a new and rising hero of conservative values. At first glance that seems to make sense, but a second look shows how extraordinarily deviant was this acclaim, and reveals the sleazy side of the admiration. Think about it, what roles did O'Keefe and Giles adopt to entice the people at the organization. Pimp and prostitute. And they did so in full blown, flamboyant style that actually set off who-the-heck-are-these-people alarm bells.Â

In other words they were not acting in a professional journalistic manner intended to maximize results. Nor where they gritting their traditional values teeth and slogging through a necessary job for the cause of virtue.

O'Keefe has claimed to be a "radical progressive," so his world-view is probably not what one would call time-honored. What the pair was having was a very, very good time. Video of the couple rises to the egregious. Giles wore a miniskirt beneath a bare midriff, and one stretch shows her walking up the stair from behind, her nicely proportioned ass swaying full tilt to show off to the camera. She and he knew exactly what they were doing, and they knew that they were going to get away with it vis-Ã -vis their traditional values audience because the values of so many of those conservatives are not really all that traditional.

Now, here's what should have happened when Giles and O'Keefe came up with their ACORN expose. It was understandable that the right exploited the evidence that a liberal oriented organization was not consistently ethical the left would do the same in reverse. But theocons who claim to be traditionalists value wise should have rebuked O'Keefe and Giles for pushing the pimp-prostitute thing over the top, reminding them that the sex trade does grievous harm to many women.

Had that occurred then maybe O'Keefe would have realized he needed to be more careful about what he did in the future. Instead the gung-ho adoration of his fawning "conservative" fans O'Keefe became a favored regular on the conservative talk circuit, jacked up his hubris to such an extreme that he thought he could get away with invading a senator's office and pulling off a publicity stunt that would garner him yet more adulation.

Instead the inanely foolish action he is alleged to have committed blew up not only in his own face, but did some damage to the conservative cause the anti-ACORN expose has been thrown into greater question, it looks like O'Keefe will never again be credible, and theocons look like smarmy dolts for giddily supporting the knave. It's a classic but common example of conservative blowback.

So why did the right dance with delight, and without qualification or shame adopt O'Keefe and Giles despite the edgy aspects of their work? Because they liked it. You see, there is a problem with being conservative. It's rather dull. Social traditionalism and virtue is square and unexciting. Always has been, always will be. I recall how in my youth church leaders droned on about how good kids knew that being wholesome was even more fun than being bad.

Even then we knew this claim was at best an exaggeration. This is one reason that even as the 1950s square culture of conformity cruised along with Father Knows Best, a growing segment of the population was already beginning to rebel without an obvious cause via a budding, rock and roll (slang for sex) dominated counter-culture headed by Elvis whose pelvic thrusting most certainly was explicitly sexual if you watch video of TV appearances in which they did not cut him off below the waist.

Also a leading agent of radical change was Huge Hefner, whose best selling Playboy was mainstreaming porn. Timothy Leary was finding uses for LSD far beyond those imagined by the CIA. By the 60s the rebellion was full blown, with the baby boomers adopting a lifestyle that seemed like it was arriving from Mars to the "Greatest Generation" parents who grew up in the Depression and fought WW II. In James Michener's well-executed book about the era, The Drifters set in 1969, the middle aged main character based on Michener wanders through the drug warrens of Marrakech looking for a younger character.

He observes that many of the supposed hippies will in a few years be conservative Republicans. As much as conservatives dislike the 1960s youth culture many did and still envy it, and they want to be hip and cool, not square and unhip. This is why the right has tried to corral the counter-culture for its own purposes with Christian rock (never mind the original meaning of the term) and hip-hop, and flocked to the snuff flick The Passion which is so super violent that it would have sickened Christian audiences back in the 1950s that today's theocons claim to aspire to return to.

Think about it, the Mel Gibson flick could not have gotten past the Catholic League's Hayes Code that ensured that Hollywood productions promoted traditional values. That today's theocons would celebrate such a movie shows how badly they have lost the culture war (for how the theocon alliance with the corporations is exploding like an IED in the faces of the churches see and

The willingness of the right to tolerate and even enjoy it when their own go low down is a repeated pattern. What happened when Bush II and Cheney used vulgar language to describe reporters and Democrats? Were they denounced and chastised by theocon opinion makers and citizens for their objectionable, unvirtuous behavior? No, they were heartily slapped on their proverbial backs for giving it to the damn liberals. And because it came across as kind of cool, as proof that even conserves can get down and dish it out (click here).

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Gregory Paul is an independent researcher interested in informing the public about little known yet important aspects of the complex interactions between religion, secularism, culture, economics, politics and societal conditions. His scholarly work (more...)
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