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Jewish World Review /March 1, 1999 /12 Adar 5759

David Corn

Post-Mortem Ad Nauseam

(JWR) --- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com) PAUL WEYRICH, THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT LEADER, blew hot air on Monicagate’s dying embers recently when he threw up a white flag in the culture war.

In an open letter, Weyrich, who has received millions of dollars in subsidies from loony right-wing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, declared Clinton’s acquittal an unqualified defeat of the social right: "I think we are caught up in a cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it simply overwhelms politics... If there really were a moral majority out there, Bill Clinton would have been driven out of office months ago... I no longer believe that there is a moral majority. I do not believe that a majority of Americans actually shares our values." He called on social conservatives to "quarantine" themselves from "this hostile culture" and advocated they withdraw from mainstream society, yank their kids out of the school systems and create their own radio networks and "private courts"—anything to escape what he calls "Cultural Marxism." In other words, America—hate it and leave it.

Back in the 1960s, conservatives told lefties to take a hike if they opposed America’s value systems. Now Weyrich is advising his own conservatives to bug out in survivalist fashion. Maybe Scaife will give him millions more so he can create his own quarantine camps.

Over at The Weekly Standard the reactions were slightly less hysterical. The Rupert Murdoch-owned magazine published a forum of after-acquittal analyses. First up—oddly or, perhaps, appropriately—was ex-Reagan State Dept. official Elliott Abrams, who now heads an outfit dubbed the Ethics and Public Policy Center. During the Iran-Contra days he pleaded guilty to withholding information from Congress, yet now, as an advocate of ethics, he moaned that, thanks to Clinton, "The value of an oath has been undermined. The notion that public service requires men and women of good character now seems quaint." One almost has to admire the Standard’s cheekiness in allowing Abrams to preach about integrity in government.

Other Standard responses were heartening to anyone who wishes to see Republicans and conservatives further alienate the public. University of Virginia Prof. James Ceasar called on the GOP to make "defending the legitimacy" of the Clinton impeachment "a cardinal objective for Republicans." He noted that Republicans "have discovered that they are far less a party of populism, and far more a party of constitutionalism." Yes, that does sound like the solid basis for a successful electoral strategy. You go, Ceasar.

Contributing editor and Princeton Prof. John DiIulio decried Clinton’s non-removal as a sign of the "creeping paganization of American politics and culture."

(Another one, he suggested, is religious acceptance of "any form of consensual sex between adults." Did he mean homosexuality?)

I can’t wait to hear House Speaker Dennis Hastert wail against the "neo-pagans," a platform, no doubt, that’ll stir millions to sign up with the Republicans. Contributing editor David Gelernter blamed the press. Well, somebody had to. "House Republicans have never explained themselves directly to the people," he maintained. Guess he missed the hundreds of interviews the House managers eagerly provided, in which they too accurately displayed themselves and their arguments in public. By the way, the House Republicans also controlled a set of impeachment hearings that managed to attract attention and provided them a platform to make their case. Still, Gelernter wrote, "I wish they would do it just one more time." One more presentation and that would do the trick and win over America? He’s obviously in the final degenerative stage of Wishful Republican Syndrome.

It was stunning to see so many conservatives intellectually shipwrecked on the shoals of Monica. Cranky Standard contributing editor Charles Krauthammer noted a greater threat than Bill Clinton looms: Hillary. As part of the continuing culture war, he prophesied, she will "undoubtedly achieve elective office" and "the other side will now have a more ideologically committed, more disciplined, and...more sympathetic champion than Bill Clinton ever was." Perhaps it is time to head to the hills with Weyrich.

Dennis Prager, a radio gabber in Los Angeles, observed in the same issue that this national trauma showed that there "is a culture war, but it is not symmetrical. Most conservatives despise two people: the Clintons. Most liberals despise millions of people: conservatives, especially religious ones. In general, conservatives deem liberals wrong; liberals deem conservatives evil." Do they bother to factcheck at the Standard? If so, let’s see the data underlying this assertion. Before repeating this drivel, Prager should consult Weyrich, who seems both to despise and to deem evil most Americans, particularly the liberals.

Cornell Prof. Jeremy Rabkin noted that the Republicans failed because they pressed ahead with Monica-related impeachment articles and left behind charges that Clinton had wheedled campaign contributions from Chinese communists and had run "blackmail and spying operations on opponents."

One problem: Those supposedly neglected charges were never proven. (Thank Rep. Dan Burton and Sen. Fred Thompson, in part, for that.) And Cornell allows Rabkin to teach constitutional law?

One wonders if Weyrich and his cult-like followers, once they construct in Truman Show-fashion their own pure, alternate-reality world, will be reading the Standard in their underground culture shelters. They ought to, so they can keep in touch with the unrealities of the conservatives who stay behind.


JWR contributor David Corn is the "Loyal Opposition" columnist at New York Press. Send your comments to him by clicking here.

02/25/99: What’s Next?

©1999, NY Press.