The Culture War as Farce

The Culture War, as Pat Buchanan envisioned it, was supposed to be about the superior moral standards of conservatism as opposed to the indulgent amorality of liberalism. This is from Buchanan’s 1992 RNC speech endorsing George H.W. Bush:

The presidency is also America’s bully pulpit, what Mr Truman called, “preeminently a place of moral leadership.” George Bush is a defender of right-to-life, and lifelong champion of the Judeo-Christian values and beliefs upon which this nation was built.

Mr Clinton, however, has a different agenda.

At its top is unrestricted abortion on demand. When the Irish-Catholic governor of Pennsylvania, Robert Casey, asked to say a few words on behalf of the 25 million unborn children destroyed since Roe v Wade, he was told there was no place for him at the podium of Bill Clinton’s convention, no room at the inn.

Yet a militant leader of the homosexual rights movement could rise at that convention and exult: “Bill Clinton and Al Gore represent the most pro-lesbian and pro-gay ticket in history.” And so they do.

Bill Clinton supports school choice–but only for state-run schools. Parents who send their children to Christian schools, or Catholic schools, need not apply.

Elect me, and you get two for the price of one, Mr Clinton says of his lawyer-spouse. And what does Hillary believe? Well, Hillary believes that 12-year-olds should have a right to sue their parents, and she has compared marriage as an institution to slavery–and life on an Indian reservation.

Well, speak for yourself, Hillary.

Friends, this is radical feminism. The agenda Clinton & Clinton would impose on America–abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat–that’s change, all right. But it is not the kind of change America wants. It is not the kind of change America needs. And it is not the kind of change we can tolerate in a nation that we still call God’s country….

… Yes, we disagreed with President Bush, but we stand with him for freedom to choose religious schools, and we stand with him against the amoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing in law as married men and women.

We stand with President Bush for right-to-life, and for voluntary prayer in the public schools, and against putting American women in combat. And we stand with President Bush in favor of the right of small towns and communities to control the raw sewage of pornography that pollutes our popular culture.

We stand with President Bush in favor of federal judges who interpret the law as written, and against Supreme Court justices who think they have a mandate to rewrite our Constitution.

My friends, this election is about much more than who gets what. It is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself. And in that struggle for the soul of America, Clinton & Clinton are on the other side, and George Bush is on our side. And so, we have to come home, and stand beside him.

Pat Buchanan is still alive, by the way. I checked because I hadn’t heard anything about him lately. It’s possible he’s been turned into a toad, but I have no confirmation of that.

Obviously, this is a very authoritarian view of morality, devoid of compassion and respect for human dignity, that is entirely about the tribal dominance of conservative Christianity, socially acceptable sex and keeping women in their place. And, of course, “rewrite our Constitution” is code for respecting the civil liberties protected in the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment, which conservatives prefer to deny. And today’s Republicans are still fighting this war, which ultimately is what the Kavanaugh nomination is about.

A few days ago I happened upon a right-wing comment thread on Kavanaugh in which the deplorables were loudly denouncing liberals for their immorality. And I was tempted to write, “Hello? You’re the ones defending sexual assault.” But of course, there’s no point, since these are the same people who think Trump is godly. One might as well teach physics to a tree stump.

But now that movement conservativism has devolved into a cesspool of white supremacy, misogyny, jingoism and just plain stupid; and their Dear Leader is a con man and all-around amoral sleazebag; and they’ve been put in the position of having to overlook credible sexual assault allegations to seat an obvious liar on the Supreme Court; we probably shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that, deep down, these people probably do still think they are on the side of morality and liberals are not.

See also After the Kavanaugh Allegations, Republicans Offer a Shocking Defense: Sexual Assault Isn’t a Big Deal.

From WaPo:

“It’s the culture war on steroids, an incredible divide and intense to the point where people won’t talk to each other in some cases,” said William J. Bennett, a conservative commentator and former education secretary in the Reagan administration. “You have the anti-Trump resistance, the MeToo movement and the Supreme Court making for a perfect storm of controversy.”

You’ll remember that Bennett used to make a good living writing books and giving speeches about morality until it came out that he was a compulsive gambler who lost millions of dollars in Las Vegas. And, of course, more recently we had the wonderful moment when Ed Whelan, the president of something called the Ethics and Public Policy Center, made a complete ass of himself by naming someone else as the guy who assaulted Christine Blasey Ford. Whelan is now taking a “leave of absence” from the “Ethics and Public Policy Center.”

I really would like to resurrect Pat Buchanan from wherever they’re keeping him and ask him if he still thinks Republians stand for morality, because from where I sit they left even a pretense of morality behind several years ago. There’s nothing left for them now but exercising power.  Well, we’ll see what’s going to happen with the Kavanaugh nomination soon enough. Seems to me it could go either way. And, while we’re at it, I’d like to ask him about his beloved Catholic Church and whether it has forfeited its right to moral authority. Seems to me Pat’s vision of “morality” is looking a tad tarnished these days.