Now it's a Press Secretary for Homeland Security trying (allegedly) to seduce a minor on the Internet.
Let's face it. It was Monica Lewinsky that elected George Bush. Oh, there was Katherine Harris, and the Supreme Court, and Al Gore's underwhelming performance that helped to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But none of these would have had a chance if it wasn't for Monica. It gave the Republicans the glorious issue. "Let's bring morality
back to the White House." And didn't they play it? Didn't Bush use every opportunity to remind people of his Christianity, of his 'family values,' of his firm opposition anything that his radical Christian support thought of as immoral. And it worked, at least enough to bring him close enough for the rest of the factors to come into play.
And isn't Washington just swimming in morality? Both Republican Majority Leaders under investigation, and one forced to resign. Bush denying he knew Jack Abramoff, and hoping that Abramoff doesn't prove he was lying. Duke Cunningham going from a fairly obscure Congressman to the Guiness Record holder for bribes received by an American. The Vice President's old firm bribing various countries, overcharging the Pentagon, etc. Homeland Security money going to states far removed from threats, while New York is still wondering where all the help Bush promised is coming from. The management of American ports being turned over to a company -- forget the question of the country involved -- whose former executive, David Sanborn, was named to the Maritime Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation
, directly before the deal was announced. (And when there was bipartisan opposition, our Moral Leader threatened to veto any bill that would block it.)
But that's just part of the new influx of morality. After all, we have the pictures of Abu Gharaib to look at and admire. We have the President and Vice president explaining how, in the war on terror, these noble ends justify the means of torture and wiretapping. But after all, we already know that the end of removing Saddam Hussein was a justification for leaving Colin Powell hanging as the lies he was fed were exposed. And if the memo of the Bush-Blair meeting is accurate, it would have justified assassination of Saddam Hussein, or painting a US plane to look like a UN plane so it could be shot down. (Even I have a problem believing that one.) Of course, I keep on having these vague memories of Republican speakers insisting on the evil of moral relativism -- and misusing the phrase to apply to an idea that 'the end justifies the means.'
And yet, somehow, the little things are even more annoying. I was around during Watergate, and remember how, during the early days of the exposure of Richard Nixon, suddenly it came out that the Vice President too was crooked and a liar -- and he had made quite a good use of 'moral rhetoric' as well. But it was somehow more shameful that his crimes were simple, cheap 'slip a couple of hundred dollars in an envelope and pass it to me' bribery, made worse because of the pitifully small amounts involved. It was as if he didn't even have a sense enough of his position to at least 'sin big.'
And so we have the little things that add to the overwhelming stench of Bush morality. George Deutsch, the 24 year old put in charge of censoring government scientists, striking a blow for that Old Time Religion by demanding that they declare the Big Bang 'just a theory,' like evolution, and then resigning when it was found that he had been so busy working for the Bush-Cheney campaign that he hadn't bothered to go back to college and go through the formality of graduating, despite his claim on his employment forms.
Then we have Claude Allen, Domestic Policy Advisor in the White House. Claude Allen, who first came to notice in the Jesse Helms campaign for his homophobic remarks, who led the fight for 'abstinence only,' who was the liason to the Religious Right. Such a fine, upstanding, Christian shoplifter. (And not the type that sticks something in his pocket and walks out the door. There are good grounds for believing that type is suffering from some sort of disease. But the deliberate use of the 'return con,' buying something, taking it to the car, then picking up another of the same item from the shelf and taking it to the return desk. That's a LITTLE different.) Of course, even though the White House knew of the investigation, they didn't throw him out the door. The New Morality of George Bush's White House seems to mandate lying, so they insisted that he was 'resigning to spend time with his family,' and, I guess, hoped that no one would check the police blotter.
And now we have Brian J. Doyle, Deputy Press Secretary to Michael Chertoff, apparently and allegedly soliciting someone he thought was a 14-year old girl on line, using as 'chick bait' his status as an employee of DHS. (What is it about that office that gets guys horny? According to the Washington Post:
Another Homeland Security official -- Frank Figueroa, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Tampa -- faces trial this week on charges of exposing himself to a teenage girl last year at a mall. Figueroa, who has been suspended, pleaded not guilty.
I don't know anything about this one, just came across it now when I was writing this.)
(I'll admit, this is one that has no suspicious tracks back to our Moral Leader. Unlike with a major figure like Allen, I'm sure that if the White House had the slightest hint this was going on, they would have thrown Doyle to the wolves or the fishes. It just happened on the watch of the man who was bringing a new sense of morality to the government.)
The White House is awfully big on praying in public buildings, and displaying the 10 Comandments. As a believer in the separation of church and state, I always opposed this. But maybe I was wrong in one or two cases. Maybe the commandements should have been posted in the White House and the Executive Office Building, the Senate and the House. And maybe those of us who do believe in prayer better start praying hard for the country. We've still got two years and 9 months of the moral leadership of George Bush to get through.