Help, Help! We've fallen Into Moral Relativism and We Can't Get Up !"
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Oct 08, 2006 at 03:16:29 PM EST
Public reaction from the American right, about the widening Foley scandal, has been called "mendacity as performance art". But the scandal's widening circle of contagion seems to be infecting leaders of the Christian right like a sort of viral Tourette's Syndrome that compels its victims to inadvertently blurt out incriminating statements implying moral hypocrisy and attitudes of underlying moral relativism. The unwillingness of Christian right leaders - such as James Dobson, Tony Perkins, and others  - to condemn GOP complicity in covering for a sexual predator in Congress, and their attempts to avoid the issue and shift blame elsewhere, betrays dynamics typical of scandal : it's usually not the crime or the scandal itself that does the worst damage, it's the coverup.

On Friday, October 6, Focus On The Family's radio broadcast was an "Update On The Foley Incident" and featured a conversation, between James Dobson and Focus On The Family Vice President Tom Minnery, in which an obviously angry Dobson wondered what the Foley scandal had to do with him and Tom Minnery aired a rather surprising concern : "I fear that we're in a society in which you will be held to the standards which you claim." Minnery seemed to be saying - with Dobson in tacit agreement - that he was afraid Americans would no longer tolerate lies and hypocrisy from their political leaders. ( Inside is a partial transcription of the conversation. ) In a related story, a keen eyed blogger on the Daily Kos noticed a statement, from Tony Perkins, that implied Perkins has long known of Mark Foley's habit of pursuing underage Congressional pages.

For a parallel view on this FoF special "Foleygate" radio segment, also see Tacitus' "Dobson Speaks: 'What Republican Scandal ?' ". Tacitus neatly summarizes Dobson's inability to confront the real scandal that concerns not Mark Foley's pursuit of underage male pages but the scandal of rampant hypocrisy inherent in the fact that the GOP, the loudly self proclaimed party of "moral values" apparently tolerated and covered for a sexual predator :
Dobson does not pass up the chance to expresses his admiration for how that paragon of moral virtue, Rush Limbaugh, reported the issue. But, curiously, he fails even to mention the Republican leadership or Dennis Hastert by name until the final couple of minutes of the broadcast. Would he finally address the failings of the Republican leadership that left the page boys unprotected from a sexual predator in their midst? Nope. Not one word about it. Even when he says it is not his place to become involved in the "political matter" (hah!) of whether Dennis Hastert should resign, he neglects to even mention why the Speaker's position is under fire. Ignore it, and maybe it will go away.
Here is a partial transcript of Update On The Foley Incident"
[ James Dobson ]

....."There was a, uh, comment by a blogger this morning who said
'Dobson has been ominously silent about this'.

Well, I haven't been quiet, I just, uh, have not been willing to
do about a hundred interviews and, uh, just to go running all over the
country tryin' to keep up with what the media wants me to do. But, uh,
we have, uh, made it very clear, we issued a press statement about what,
uh, what Congressman Foley did. And, uh, what he did is why he resigned
as soon as the revelations became known and, uh, it was appropriate that
he, uh resign. That should have been the end of the story....

You know, I'm getting hit from all over the place and, uh, uh,
somebody's goin' to have to tell me what in the wide world this
indiscretion by a, uh, member of congress has to do with Evangelical
Christians and and in my case especially me ? What in the world
is the connection there and yet the media is trying to link us
together somehow and that is the spin."

[ Dobson later goes on to play a clip from CNN, of Randy Cohen ]

"Here is a, uh, short sound bite, uh, from an interchange that took
place between John Roberts and Randy Cohen, uh, this was, again, on CNN and Randy Cohen is with  the New York Times and he was fairly
salivating with glee
over this moral failure. Uh, Rush
Limbaugh provided this soundbite, and, uh, uh, it is so typical
of the things that are being said being said um, that really,
essentially, call us all hypocrites and I thought that we oughta let all
of our listeners hear. This is just a short interchange here, and this
occurred on CNN just a few nights ago: "It delights me, I think if your a
person who can't enjoy the downfall of a hypocrite then you have no
zest for life. Remember, Foley's the person who castigated President
Clinton, very vigorously, for having a consensual affair with someone
quite a bit older. It is strikingly delight to see a hypocrite fall"

"It's delightful to watch a hypocrite fall." -  Is there any doubt, Tom,
that, uh, this man is ecstatic over a tragedy that's occured in
the Congress ?

[ Tom Minnery ]

"No doubt in my mind. I'm surprised he's willing to
say that on Television. Um, what he's really delighting in
is what he hopes is the downfall of the Republican Party, which as
everybody knows has us, those who are trying to live good moral lives,
as the base. They're trying to show all of us by extension, as
hypocrites here.

[ Dobson ]

Yeah, you know they love to do that.

[ Dobson goes on to quote a recent op ed by Paul Krugman ]

"...It will be interesting, by the way, to see how doctor Dobson, who
declared of Bill Clinton that "no man has ever done more to debase the
presidency" ( Dobson interjects - "I stand by that statement" ), how Dobson responds to the Foley scandal. Does the failure of Republican leaders to do anything about a sexual predator in their midst outrage him as much as a Democratic president's consensual sexual affair ?"

Well, in fact, uh, it does outrage me Mr. Krugman. We condemn the Foley
affair categorically and we also believe that what Mr. Clinton did was
one of the most wicked and reprehensible things ever done by a president
in power....

[ Dobson goes on to talk about the Lewinsky Affair, and Clinton's
impeachment ]

...As it turns out Mr. Foley has had illicit sex with no one that we
know of, and the whole thing turned out to be, uh, what some people are
saying was a sort of a joke by the boy and, uh,  some of the other pages
but, uh, somehow it has diminished my personal integrity and put me on
the editorial pages of the new York Times and, uh, this is just a small
example of why the media is distrusted by the American people,
most of its best known spokesmen are deeply resentful of Christians and
consider us to be, uh, judgmental hypocrites.

[ Tom Minnery ]

Here's what  Mr. Krugman is trying to do. He wants you to vindicate
yourself by dumping on the entire Republican Party and if you are not
willing to do that then he sees you as the biggest of all hypocrites
because you will not. They see this only in political terms, not in the
terms of illicit sex, not in terms of the, uh,  evil of somebody going
after a young person with salacious emails, they turn it immediately to
the party and they do that only because we're now a month before a very
important election."

[ Dobson, later ]

What the liberal media and some Democrats are trying to do in, uh, the
way they played this story in the last five days is to suppress the
turnout on, uh, November the 7th. What they really want to deal is
convince everybody that all of Washington is wicked and evil and there
is no sense in your, uh, even voting because one's as wicked as the
other and to impugn again the character of those who are trying to live
a righteous life even if, uh, imperfectly and none of is perfect, none
of us can, uh, claim to have any perfection - If we did we wouldn't need
a savior. And, uh, so I'm not in any way belittling that when it occurs.
But there is a difference between those who believe in right and wrong
and those that don't. And so what the media is trying to do is paralyze
the values voters because they, uh, two years ago in 2004 they didn't
see it coming, they didn't know the values voters were gonna to come out
in great numbers and they were shocked when it happened, and
they've been determined ever since then to see that it didn't happen
again and this is part of that effort.

[ Tom Minnery ]

You know, uh, we have, uh, been consistent here. You condemned in no
uncertain terms what Congressman Foley did. I remember back in the 90's when, uh, Representative Barney Frank, an open homosexual, was accused of and admitted to having a homosexual prostitute operate out of his own townhouse, if I get that story straight. We objected to that, the
Democrats wanted to move on. Way back in the early 80's it was
Representative Gerry Studds who had sex with an underage, uh, homosexual sex [ Dobson interjects - "he had sex with a teenager" ] and he wasn't bounced out of the House, he didn't resign, he was elected to six more terms, he was given a censure but that was all. The Democrats, uh, weren't so eager then to force that guy to resign, only now when it's a Republican. And, y'know, we're just pointing out the vast hypocrisy here.

[ Dobson continues talking about Gerry Studds' affair, moderator sums up
discussion so far, then Dobson and Minnery begin discussion concerning
the timing of the release of the story on the Foley emails ]

[ Tom Minnery ]

"You know what I fear is happening - and I don't know how to assess this
I fear that we're in a society in which you will he held to the
standards which you claim."

Related story: Liars For Jesus

[ excerpt ]
Would self professed spokespersons, in the name of Christianity and whose words are routinely broadcast to millions around the United States and the globe, attend public events in honor of, and present awards to, politicians who have derived financial profit from a regime of forced abortion and sexual slavery ? Well, yes. Might the leader of a major world religion have conspired to cover up the sexual molestation of thousands of children ? The answer, again, is yes.

So, it is no great stretch to suppose that Christian historical revisionists might - in the words of author Chris Rodda - "Lie For Jesus"....

Other related stories :

See Scandals, and Reed and Abramoff

On the Catholic side of scandal and hypocrisy - Amid GOP Pederasty Scandal, Child Molestation Coverup Allegations Hound Pope Benedict XVl

Also, I'd highly recommend everything written by Talk To Action contributors moiv ( on reproductive rights and the Christian right ) and Jonathan Hutson ( our top hypocrisy skewerer )

Be VERY afraid, Dr. Dobson, that you WILL be held to the standards you claim. Your inability to hold those involved in trying to cover up Rep. Foley's actions accountable will come back to haunt you. Also, to bring up former President Clinton's transgressions and trying to put them on the same level as Rep. Foley's is disingenious at best...while what President Clinton did was wrong, he was NOT going after under-aged pages; therefore, comparing the two scandals is equal to comparing apples to oranges. Monica Lewinsky was an ADULT, the page to whom Rep. Foley sent his sexually explicit e-mails and IMs was NOT. Therein lies the difference.

Those who KNEW about Rep. Foley's misconduct, yet did absolutely NOTHING to stop it are every bit as guilty as Foley himself. They are accessories to his criminal behavior, and, as such, deserve to be punished as well.

If you, Dr. Dobson, TRULY practice what you preach, you should be issuing statements that, in no uncertain terms, make it clear that you do not endorse anyone who was involved in trying to cover up for Foley's reprehesible behavior.

by LynneK on Sun Oct 08, 2006 at 03:29:14 PM EST
Minnery's "concerned" that American society will hold leaders and politicians at their word and expect that they live up to their professed moral standards ?

If I'm off base here, let me know - but I'd swear that Tom Minnery said - in effect - that he's worried America won't tolerate moral hypocrisy.

Maybe it was the ghost of Dr. Dobson's long passed away miniature Daschshund, the one Dobson belt-whipped ( and then wrote about the incident at length ) :

The Dachshund was named "siggie", short for "sigmund".

So, maybe Tom Minnery made a Freudian slip.

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Oct 08, 2006 at 03:41:16 PM EST

These folks are pikers at politics! Ya gotta know when to play and when to fold!

They lay low knowing perfectly well that they are going to be asked questions. Yet they do not use that time to rehearse the sort of answers that would identify them as above the fray and at the same time exculpate most (non-leadership) Republicans.  You know: "Foley was very wrong, and the three or so congressmen directly responsible for investigating allegations were at best negligent and stupid, at worst accomplices. We should pray that the pages are ok, that Foley repent and heal, investigate the roles of the Page Board and R. leadership with direct knowledge, and move on with the business of the country." But NOOOOO...they had to flog the partisan line, and lose respect from a fair number of ordinary moderate family folk who just want to see their kids protected from dirty old men.

by NancyP on Sun Oct 08, 2006 at 09:00:33 PM EST

That you're not advising them ( and, they're not listening ) - that's a credible position.


by Bruce Wilson on Sun Oct 08, 2006 at 09:32:38 PM EST

Well, that's because I use the common sense God gave me, and fully realize that I can quite readily make a fool of myself or be thoughtlessly hurtful (therefore think twice before opening piehole). Also, I am Small Stuff and aren't in the position to start believing a paid PR department. Dopeyness is inversely proportional to public prominence.

by NancyP on Sun Oct 08, 2006 at 11:47:43 PM EST

I'm glad he got caught, especially since he made a career of attacking people just like himself. I hope that those involved in the coverup, (which is far worse than what Foley did), suffer some real consequences, though I'm not at all optimistic about that. And I hope there's some accountability for Dobson etc, who are wallowing in so much hypocrisy that I feel like I need a bath just from reading this article. On the other hand, I don't think what Foley did should be a crime. Sexual consent should be based on the biological reality of puberty. And making the age of consent 18 is not only arbitrary, it's ridiculous because 18 has no relationship to puberty. Throughout most of history, people of 16 (and even younger) were frequently married and raising families. And if I may go off on a tangent, maybe the reason there's so much teenage rebellion and irresponsible behavior is because we insist on treating them like children when they're biologically adults. It's sort of the way I felt about the Rush Limbaugh drug arrest. I unequivocally oppose drug laws; it's none of the government's damn business what we put in our bodies. But I was still happy to see the "big fat idiot" get caught.

by Dave on Mon Oct 09, 2006 at 12:53:29 AM EST
(including me until yesterday)

is the issue of relative power in relationships like Foley-page one(s?). There's been a lot of discussion around "age of consent" -- how old was the page in this case, 16? 18? blah blah blah. But age is only one consideration here. The question of sexual harassment/coercion -- including the subtler means such as flattery -- always has to be raised in a high rank/low rank relationship like this.

I'll admit, I get a certain amount of perverse gratification out of seeing the Big Guy in such an unbalanced relationship take the fall for once. In a just world, that would happen a whole lot more often (for starters, we wouldn't have to put up with Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court).

Be that as it may, there's a reason why so many companies (and the military) have strict rules against "fraternizing [including dating] in the ranks." It's to protect against abuses of power like this.

by anomalous4 on Mon Oct 09, 2006 at 11:37:58 PM EST

Mark Foley just set the stage, the real scandal was the fact that GOP and Christian right leaders knew about Foley's tendencies.... Meanwhile, they were all mouthing vicously antigay rhetoric and seeking to pass antigay legislation.

by Bruce Wilson on Mon Oct 09, 2006 at 07:50:44 AM EST

besides dobson calling foleygate "sort of a joke by the boy," minnery's comment was the highlight of the broadcast. it's great that you picked up on that line too. minnery has some real skeletons in his closet, but what he seems to be saying is why should that stop him from judging everybody else?
(what skeletons? you might ask. stay tuned...)

by Max Blumenthal on Mon Oct 09, 2006 at 05:56:33 PM EST
I'm sure it will be juicy.

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Oct 10, 2006 at 11:14:29 PM EST

In case you all haven't noticed, almost this entire broadcast was not directed at getting to the heart of the Foley affair. It was about exonerating the Dobson. The show was all over his ego, and Minnery is there but to fawn and toady it.

Dobson will stop the presses at his organization and go into full damage control mode at the drop of a hat. He literally cannot stand to be criticised, and has the thinnest skin of any of these politicos. As if he thought he could intrude into the world of Caesar without sullying Christ.

by SharonB on Tue Oct 10, 2006 at 02:53:25 PM EST

That seems somehow apt.

by Bruce Wilson on Tue Oct 10, 2006 at 11:12:03 PM EST

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