The Lighter Side
The morally-challenged right wing
By Tony Zurlo
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Nov 25, 2005, 15:02

Here's a political riddle: Our side understands and practices "it," the opposition has no clue. But because the Republicans claimed a monopoly on "it," moderate and conservative Americans cast their vote in 2004 to keep Republicans in office. The voting public thought that elephants were better at "it" than donkeys. So what is "it"?

Moral values, of course.

Except that apparently for elephants the meaning of "it" depends on how one defines "it." Good ole boys and girls who run for political office often have a rather elastic definition of "it." The rest of us tactfully wink, sigh, and whisper the weary refrain, "Good ole boys and girls, will be good ole boys and girls up on the Hill." After all, we factor in the heavy burdens of their jobs, the constant exposure to the floodlights, the temptations of the flesh, the scent of greenbacks . . . etcetera.

Not just politicians, of course.

There is a long-standing class of public figures in America who are close relatives of Republican politicians. These are the right-wing preachers/wanna-be politicians. These men (and token women) of God do have an advantage in the morality war. They enter the public fray armed with holy books and divinity degrees. Still, men and women of the cloth also slip on the morning dew from time to time. Their pleas for compassion have entertained Americans for decades. Evangelist Pat Robertson would have us overlook his call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez or his recent warning to the people of Dover, Pennsylvania, not to plan on God's help.

Then there are the distant cousins of right wing politicians and preachers, the starched-and-pressed military saints/wanna-be-preachers. Three-star Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, who served as a deputy undersecretary of defense under Donald Rumsfeld, serves as a worthy sample. He once told Muslims in Somalia that "my God is bigger than your god, which is an idol." As a sentinel of the Lord, Boykin also proclaimed that "President Bush is in the White House because God put him there. . . . We in the army of God . . . have been raised for such a time as this."

Add to the menu a Libby and Rove, sprinkle with generous portions of Frist and DeLay, and top off the meal with a little Cheney torture and an Abramoff payoff, and one has to wonder why public officials live in glass houses. Do they actually believe that nobody is watching? Do they really think that sticks and stones won't break their floor-to-ceiling windows?

The American public puts up with an enormous amount of Beltway baloney, but polls suggest that the public wants an end to smoke and mirror government.

By believing they can alter at will the definition of the word "it," the Bush administration insults Americans' moral intelligence. Exhibiting no shame for their Machiavellian principles, the White House exploits the public's willingness to overlook human frailty.

For their own liberation, the Bush White House needs to institute a follow up course to its recently completed Ethics 101 classes. All staff members -- from humble juniors to exalted seniors -- should be required to enroll in Morality 101. This course would include lectures and workshops on such time-honored virtues as accountability, compassion, and honesty. And the greatest of these is honesty.

To be eligible for contract renewals and/or promotions, all students would be required to demonstrate mastery of these virtues by completing three of the following activities: (1) make a public confession on the Dr. Phil Show, (2) write humor for Air America Radio hosts, (3) file a written apology for past behavior with Judge Judy, (4) appear on 60 Minutes and 20/20 and promise never to run for public office.

Coda: Those who can validate twelve consecutive months of successfully practicing "it" would then be entitled to apply for membership in the Democratic Party.

Tony Zurlo is a writer/educator living in Arlington, Texas. Currently, he teaches writing and African/Asian culture at Tarrant County College. He has also taught in schools in Nigeria, China, and many parts of the U.S. His op-eds, essays, and reviews have appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Democrats.US, OpEdNews, Peace Corps Writers, Writers Against War, and other journals and newspapers. He also has published nonfiction books on Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Japanese Americans, West Africa, Algeria, and soon Syria. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in more than 65 journals, magazines, and anthologies.

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