Get All Worked up about the Kingmaker


A couple of months ago, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich made a startling confession. Gingrich was appearing on the daily syndicated radio show of Dr. James Dobson, head of the group Focus On The Family, when he admitted to cheating on his second wife with the woman who would become his third wife in 2000.

But wait, there’s more. It seems that while Gingrich was busy being an adulterer, he was also busy trying to impeach President Bill Clinton for having an affair with famed White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

But wait, there’s more. It’s also turned up that while Gingrich was married to his FIRST wife, he was cheating on her with the woman who would become his SECOND wife, (whom he later cheated on with the woman who would become his THIRD wife).

But wait, there’s more. The former Speaker has cemented his qualifications for the Rotten Spouse Hall of Fame by actually having served his first wife with divorce papers while she was in the hospital, recovering from cancer surgery. His church had to take up a collection for his first ex and his children because he refused to pay alimony or child support. Gingrich also announced to his second wife he was ending their marriage over the telephone, on Mother’s Day, shortly after she’d been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Despite his admitted failings, Gingrich says he has no problem reconciling his own serial adultery with having hounded President Clinton and the nation through an ugly impeachment over Clinton’s infidelities.

Gingrich also says he doesn’t think candidates personal lives should be subject to scrutiny in the media.

Of course he doesn’t.

And yet one has to ask, what or who the hell would compel Gingrich or anyone else go on a nationally syndicated radio program and admit that marital fidelity isn’t necessarily a promise, but is more of a guideline?

The answer to the “who” part of that question is, “Dr. James Dobson,” on whose radio show Gingrich fessed up. The answer to the “what” is, Gingrich wants to be President of the United States, and for him to have any reasonable shot at becoming the Republican Party’s candidate, Gingrich has to obtain the blessing of one Dr. James Dobson. Apparently, begging Dobson’s forgiveness for his indiscretions is the first step.

In case you didn’t know, or knew but had simply forgotten, there’s a powerful, influential, well-funded socio-political movement in American society about which I’ve ranted on many occasions. It’s composed of Fundamentalist and evangelical Christian groups and spokesmen who use a selectively strict interpretation of the Bible to justify their political and moral philosophy. This movement holds rigidly ultra-right wing political views, and claims that their views and their relationship with God and Jesus renders them most qualified to run the country.

I’ve dubbed this group the “Holy Terrors.” I don’t much care for them.

It’s not their ultra-conservative, far-right wing agenda.

It’s not their advocacy of strict censorship of pornographic, erotic, and even slightly sensual media, in violation of the Constitutional principles of freedom of speech, expression and privacy.

It’s not their assertion that by virtue of their religious faith, they have the right to impose the doctrines of that faith upon the rest of us.

It’s not that they use the doctrines of that faith to justify the condemnation of homosexuality and the discriminatory treatment of homosexuals as second-class citizens.

It’s not that they use contradictory and absurdly illogical positions such as that homosexuals are both depraved degenerates and simultaneously victims of mental illness.

It’s not that they consider sex to be original sin, and that therefore the only legitimate purpose of sex is to produce offspring.

It’s not that they correspondingly try to restrict or prevent any sort of sex that DOESN’t produce offspring, or that treats sex as a pleasurable exercise.

It’s not that in pursuing their anti-privacy, anti-freedom and anti-pleasure agenda they make ludicrous, stupid, and dangerous arguments, (such as that immunizing teenaged girls against human papilloma virus, a sexually transmitted disease which causes cervical cancer and kills hundreds of thousands of women worldwide every year, is a bad idea because it might encourage promiscuity).

It’s not that their solutions to the problems of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (such as abstinence-only sex education) are ill-advised, na’ve, downright stupid, and simply don’t work.

It’s not that they pursue their agenda with a shocking hypocrisy and an equally shocking contempt for freedom of choice and the dignity of all men and women.

It’s not that their hypocrisy, stupidity and contempt corrupts and denigrates the message of the very man they claim to emulate and follow.

It’s all of the above. It’s everything. It’s the total package.

It’s the fact that these stupid ideologues manage to exert an almost complete control over the United States’ Republican party.

Now, despite my rhetoric and my tie-dyed-in-the-hemp liberal/progressive/tree-hugger/latter-day hippie credentials, I actually LIKE many of the Republicans I know as people. They’re members of my immediate family and I have several close personal friends who consider George W. Bush to be a stand-up guy. I’m okay with that. They don’t let my liberal beliefs get in the way of their enjoying the pleasure of my company, and I don’t hold it against them that they follow the ideology of a bunch of fucking idiots. I mean, nobody’s perfect.

Nevertheless, while I find no fault with Republicans as people, I have grave concerns about the leaders of their party, and of the course they want the United States to follow.

And Dr. James Dobson is the biggest, most powerful, most ideologically influential leader of them all.

Case in point: the state of the U.S. Iraq is in chaos and the rest of the Middle East isn’t far behind. The army’s near the breaking point, North Korea is sitting on at least a couple of nuclear bombs, the budget and trade deficits are at record levels, the job market sucks, the economy sucks, the housing market sucks, public school test scores are down, the infant mortality rate is up, gas prices are through the roof and the polar ice caps are melting.

Despite all these difficulties, what is the most critical issue facing Republicans when they’re trying to decide which candidate to nominate for the 2008 race?

The fact that none of the party’s top candidates has a spotless record when it comes to personal morality and to Dobson’s checklist of acceptable credentials. Rudy Giuliani’s been married three times, (including to his own cousin), and he’s appeared in public in drag. John McCain’s been married three times. Mitt Romney’s only had one wife, but he’s a Mormon, which is a disqualification all by itself. None of these candidates, in Dobson’s eyes, meet his exacting standards.

Fred Thompson, former U.S. Senator and current “Law And Order” actor, has been making noises about joining the Republican group of candidates. Nope, according to Dr. Dobson. In a March 30, 2007 interview, Dobson said, “Everyone knows he’s conservative and has come out strongly for the things the pro-family movement stands for, but I don’t think he’s a Christian; at least that’s my impression.” This must’ve come as a big shock to the Church of Christ, of which Thompson is a member.

As the 2008 Presidential race heats up, we’ve already seen the Republican candidates jockeying for position on Dobson’s list of acceptable qualifications. That means that instead of focusing on issues such as war, the economy, social justice and public health, they’re obsessing about sex, sex, sex.

Every Republican candidate has condemned gay rights. Every Republican candidate has opposed a woman’s right to choose. Every Republican candidate has begun toeing the Dobson line when it comes to sex education and limiting freedom of expression when it comes to pornographic or even slightly erotic media.

Every Republican candidate has been squarely planting his lips on Dr. James Dobson’s ass.

One would hope that any Presidential candidate, Republican, Democrat, or whatever, would believe in respecting the concept of individual liberty when it comes to sexual issues. That whatever consenting adults choose to do behind the bedroom door is their own business and none of that of the government. One would hope that any Presidential candidate would want to avoid pandering to a single, militantly far-out-there core group of fanaticists.

One would hope. But then, one would hope no candidate would be willing to denigrate himself and publicly embarrass himself for the sake of the approval of a single “kingmaker” such as Dr. James Dobson.

One would hope.

J.T. Benjamin
May/June 2007

“All Worked Up” © 2007 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

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