Theocrat of the Week
In the course of a wider profile of Mr. Gingrich, journalist David Osborn reported in Mother Jones magazine in 1984:
Gingrich did, however, talk a great deal about ethics, traditional values, and the family. "America needs a return to moral values," his literature announced, showing photos of the young candidate and his family and describing his church activities as a deacon and as a Sunday school teacher. His wife, Jackie, campaigned hard for him, covering hundreds of miles, visiting country stores, handing out leaflets at high school football games. "Everyone saw Jackie and Newt as a unit," says Mary Kahn, who covered Gingrich as a reporter before marrying Chip. "He was always talking about the family being a team, about family values. It was a constant, and a big part of his campaign."
Stephen Talbot, recounted further reporting by Gail Sheehy in Salon in 1998:
Gingrich pioneered a denial of adultery that some observers would later christen "the Newt Defense": Oral sex doesn't count. In a revealing psychological portrait of the "inner" Gingrich that appeared in Vanity Fair (September 1995), Gail Sheehy uncovered a woman, Anne Manning, who had an affair in Washington in 1977 with a married Gingrich.
Such material gave Our Distinguished Panel of Judges considerable pause. However, they determined that one need not live up to one's oft stated moral values,to earn the lofty designation of Theocrat of the Week. The key is to be politically effective in advancing a theocratic agenda -- an agenda that by defintion need not be mutually exclusive of one's personal ambitions. Indeed, hypocrisy -- if you can get away with it -- clearly stands as no barrier theocratic leadership. By this standard, Gingrich rose to the ocasion when he took the stage to give the Commencement Address at Liberty University, just days after the death of university founder Jerry Falwell.
The speech is rich in theocratic themes, but Our Distinguished Panel of Judges wish to highlight just a few that stand-out as emblematic of the theocratic movement of our time, and the notes which any aspiring theocratic eagele must hit to soar and set theocratic hearts a flutter.
First, he invoked the Declaration of Independence, the revolutionary manifesto setting the colonies at war against the King of England. Along the way, the document vaguely invoked "the Creator" as necessarily on their side. Gingrich used this to conflate the meaning of the Declaration with the Bible and then proceeded to interpret what God and the Fathers Intended for Us All. You know, Creator, God, Declaration, Bible, Intentions of the Founding Fathers -- its all the same as long as there is a theocratic leader --perhaps Gingrich -- to explain to us what it all means.
All his life, Dr. Jerry Falwell bore witness to the Truth, secure in the promise that the Truth will make us free.
The most marvelous theocratic moment in his speech was when he conflated Naziism, Communism, decisions of the Supreme Court regarding the proper role of religion in the public schools -- and the just about everyone who thinks that principles of separation of church and state are a good thing. He was able to do this primarily by denouncing unnamed "secular absolutists" and "radical secularism." To an audience of the the Falwellianly inclined, on the ocasion of the great man's passing, and in the presence of the first graduating class of Falwell's school of law, it was an address to propel the theocratic agenda into the future.
Just as with the Nazis and the Communists, darkness is again falling across the earth, and it is again the calling of America to light her moral lamps, and place them out, for all the nations to see.
All this was such a marvel, Our Distinguished Panel of Judges almost missed what may have been the greatest theocratic triumph in Gingrich's address. While denouncing Islam as "evil" -- in so many words, he alsomanaged to work in a mention of "pluralism," as the occasion demanded. Rarely, maybe never in our experience, have we encountered such a craftily well-crafted theocratic two-step with the concept of pluralism. And he did so -- so adroitly -- that Our Esteemed and Learned Judges briefly forgot Gingrich's blowjobbian bent.
Implicit within this vision of the Founding Fathers is a pluralistic sensibility. Any true religion would be therefore deserving of the respect of the government, which would include the freedom to express in public the moral principles of such a true religion.
One of the great stumbling blocks for theocrats of all kinds is the Constitution of the United States. Theocratic Christian nationalists, or those who seek their votes, need to milk the Declaration of Independence for all it is worth, since the Declaration at least mentions "the Creator" (a politically palatable bit of religious universalism at the time) while the Constitution does not mention a Creator, let alone the God of the Christian Bible. In fact the sole mention of religion in the Constitution is to proscribe religious tests for public office (see Article 6). What so struck Our Distingished Panel of Judges was the distinctive Gingrich Method of invoking the Declaration and dodging the Constitution: how he noted that pluralism is "implicit" in the "vision" of the Founding Fathers, which he has reduced to the Declaration. He goes on to say, however, that only a "true religion" deserves the respect of government. Even at this disance, we can hear the "Wink! Wink!" behind the words of Our Theocrat of the Week when he uses the word "pluralism."
Of course his audience knows there is only one "true religion;" and they've got it, and the Muslims, Jews, Mormons, atheists and those silly apostate so-called "mainline" Protestants and heretecal Roman Catholics, well, they don't. So our Theocrat of the Week managed to sound all pluralistic to keep the liberals and those crazed secular absolutists at bay, without having to once mention the pesky Constitution and that even peskier First Amendment. Gingrich was able to assure each beating theocratic heart, that they hold to the true religion -- just like the Founding Fathers, and that those assembled to hear Gingrich's homage to the fallen Falwell are carrying forward the vision of not only God, Jefferson and Falwell -- but of Newt Gingrich -- Our Theocrat of the Week.
Theocrat of the Week | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)
Theocrat of the Week | 2 comments (2 topical, 0 hidden)