Thursday, May 12, 2005
James Ellroy once said "I'm a writer for the whole family -- if your family's name is Manson."
That pretty well describes my feelings about the term "family values" every time I hear it invoked by GOP footsoldiers. You probably caught the revelations today about the ultra-incompetent Dr. David Hager, President Horse Cock's appointment to the Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs in the FDA, the man who almost single-handedly kept Plan B Contraceptives from becoming available OTC and recommended that women could overcome PMS with prayer (and based on that alone let me tell you right now he can just Fuck Right Off), who now stands accused of sodomizing his wife against her will for seven years. As a result people like Elayne Riggs and Shakespeare's Sister have been suggesting that someone with a strong stomach catalog the veritable panoply of GOP sex scandals that seem to rise like swamp gas through the wingnut wasteland every day.
Well my stomach is not that strong. But as my contribution to the cause I'm listing three of my all-time favorites Republican tartuffes. They also serve to highlight one of my favorite themes of wingnut hypocrisy -- when they talk about respect for "family values" what they're really defending are the privileges of patriarchy to do whatever they damn well please without consequence or responsibility. So without further ado:
1. John Schmitz: Never heard of him? He was a big California Republican during the 70s, a member of the John Birch society who thought Reagan and Nixon were liberals. He won a US House seat in 1970 trumpeting family values. "They like to be called gays," he said. "I prefer to call them queers." He described pro-choice supporters as "a sea of hard, Jewish and (arguably) female faces," and made a career decrying America's moral decrepitude. When George Wallace was shot and dropped out of the 1972 Presidential race Schmitz stepped in and ran as the candidate for the American Independent Party, garnering 1 million votes.
He had a picture-perfect family and a cheerleader daughter named Mary Kay he liked to call "Cake" who absolutely adored him. But all was not as it seemed to be. In 1982 a woman named Carla Stuckle was accused of child abuse and was forced to name the father of the child as a condition of his return -- and she named her former professor, John Schmitz, who it turned out had another family on the side. Schmitz acknowledged that the boy was his, as well as the child's older sister, but he said "I do not and will not support him financially. It is her responsibility to take care of him." Conservative voters had slightly different standards in the 80s, I guess, because it ended Schmitz' career. When Stuckle died the two children were taken in by psychic Jeanne Dixon, and when Dixon died in 1997 the children became wards of the state and went to an orphanage.
Young "Cake" was evidently devastated by the experience. Or so she claimed when she was on trial years later for statutory rape under her married name, Mary Kay LeTourneau.
2. Beverly Russell: Who could forget Newt Gingrich salivating over the Susan Smith tragedy? "I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things," he said. "The only way you get change is to vote Republican."
Of course, nobody in the ever-vigilant media asked Newt what he thought when it was later revealed that Smith had been molested as a young girl by her stepfather, Beverly Russell, a big Republican leader in South Carolina who was also a local organizer of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition that championed "family values" and "school prayer" as Republican virtues. Smith had attempted suicide twice, at 13 and 18, and at 15 had told authorities that her stepfather had been sexually molesting her. Russell admitted the molestation at the time to a social-service worker who investigated the allegations, but he agreed to seek counseling and the case against the prominent businessman was quickly closed by law enforcement.
At Smith's trial Russell admitted to having sex with her two months before the murders. Newt and his "pro-family" forces went on to dismember the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act in the House. Because a man's home, you know, is his castle.
3. Bob Barr: I guess it's because of Bob Barr's prominent role in the Clinton impeachment hearings that his story always galls the hell out of me. He is Mr. Family Values himself, responsible for drafting the Defense of Marriage Act banning gay marriage, who is himself twice-divorced and has failed to pay child support to the children of his first two wives. He was also photographed licking the whipped cream off of two strippers at his inaugural party. Which is probably what he was referring to when he said "The flames of hedonism, the flames of narcissism, the flames of self-centered morality are licking at the very foundation of our society, the family unit." He just forgot to add "and a set of well-formed bazoombas."
Barr has also risen to power as a screaming champion of the anti-abortion movement. He claimed in 1992 that he would do "everything in his power" to stop a family member from having an abortion -- even if they had been raped. Any family member, that is, except his wife, who claims that in 1983 he supported her in her decision to have an abortion -- even drove her to the clinic and paid for the procedure.
Morality, I guess, is just something Congress must impose upon poor people.
I think most of us on the left just accept the notion that the deviance and amorality these men see everywhere are really just projections of their own shadow personae thrown up against the screen of the world that surrounds them. And I have a deep suspicion that many of their supporters admire this quality in them, though perhaps unknowingly. As Jung noted, the failure to acknowledge and integrate one's shadow persona can give it incredible, near-demonic power that the individual is quite helpless to control. It may go a long way toward explaining the list of morally outrageous behavior that seems to be growing longer every day.
So, have at it! Who's your favorite Republican "family values" hypocrite? Please feel free to add to this list in the comments, or better yet, write about your top three favorite and put it up as a trackback. I'd love to see a daisy chain chronicling GOP perversions flowering across the internets.