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From the President's Desk...

How Laura Bush Silenced Conservatives And The Religious Right

The silence is deafening.  And if this was during the 2004 Presidential campaign and Teresa Heinz Kerry had made similar statements, Christians and Conservatives rightful so would be outraged.  There is no doubt that the behavior of First Lady Laura Bush at the April 30, 2005 annual White House Correspondent's Association Dinner, was unfitting and unbecoming of Mrs. Bush who acted more like an off color racy comedian and less like a First Lady.   (1) Yet because she is a Republican, Christians and Conservatives, two normally moral groups, have remained silent.  

The audience was made up of Washington journalists and luminaries from Hollywood and Manhattan who were mainly Democrats.  

What is tragic about Mrs. Bush's comments is that at least in public this was the first time a First Lady has told off color humor.  

What is unfortunate about the whole matter is that the Bush's believe that they have to be self-depreciating to be acceptable to the liberal community. (The audience was made up of Washington journalists and luminaries from Hollywood and Manhattan who were mainly Democrats.)  For example, Mrs. Bush said, “George always say's he's delighted to come to these press dinners.  Baloney.  He's usually in bed by now.  I'm not kidding.  I said to him the other day, ‘George, if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you're going to have to stay up later.”  (2)  

The President's traditional speech of the Correspondent's Association Dinner included scripted interruptions by the First Lady that included such critical remarks as: ”George and I are complete opposites—I'm quiet, he's talkative; I'm introverted, he's extroverted; I can pronounce nuclear…” (3)  

A surprise to most in the crowd, who have seen the former librarian only stand by her husband and smile smartly, was when Mrs. Bush at one point said her “Aunt Bea-like” mother-in-law is “actually more like …hmm…Don Corleone.” (4)  

Also, the First Lady said, “I am married to the President of the United States, and here's our typical evening:  Nine O' Clock, Mr. Excitement here is sound asleep, and I'm watching ‘Desperate Housewives'—with [Vice President Dick Cheney's wife] Lynne Cheney.” (5)  

She continued, “ Ladies and gentlemen, I am a desperate housewife.  I mean, if those women on that show think they're desperate they ought to be with George.” (6)

Referring to a strip club where women tuck cash into male dancers' skimpy thongs – Chippendales – the First Lady said,” One night, after George went to bed, Lynne Cheney, [Secretary of State] Condi Rice, [Bush adviser] Karen Hughes and I went to Chippendales.  I wouldn't even mention it except [Supreme Court Justices] Ruth Ginsberg and Sandra Day O'Conner saw us there.  I won't tell you what happened, but Lynne's Secret Service code name is now ‘Dollar Bill.” (7)  

The First Lady's skit about the President's ranching skills included her husband's lack of skill because of the elite schools he attended – Andover and Yale – “don't have a real strong ranching program.”  Eyebrows raised when she continued, “He's learned a lot about ranching since that first year when he tried to milk the horse. What's worse, it was a male horse.”  (8)  

The joke caused the crowd to howl and female Associated Press reporter said, “had women giggling in the bathroom.” (9)  

And although the Bush's pandered to the media and tried to convey to their audience that they are just like them and not like the religious right zealots as the media portrays people of faith, the press criticized the First Lady's monologue as, at worst, downright bawdy and at best immodest. (10)  

For example, Agence France-Presse said,” Laura Bush cracks risqué jokes at the White House Correspondents' dinner.” (11)   Also, having her sensibilities scarred by some of the First Lady's quips was CNN reporter Elaine Quijano, who attended the dinner.  She said, “In some respects, I think for some folks it was a little shocking because she kind of crossed the line a little bit in some people's minds.”  On Fox News on May 1, 2005, the Nation's David Korn said, “It was very risqué.  I was wondering what the social conservatives and James Dobson had to say about all these jokes that were laced with sexual innuendo.  Not a very family-values-type speech.  I'm not sure I want to explain a lot of those jokes to my four-year-old.”   

Political Demise of Christians and Conservatives  

Conservatives, as well as Christians, continue to contribute to their own political demise by remaining silent and not addressing the First Lady's ill-advised behavior.  It gives fodder to the liberal media and liberals that there is hypocrisy among Conservatives and Christians.  And that it is fine for the First Lady to have off color humor and say that family-values are unimportant because she is a Republican.  Sadly Conservatives and Christians have abandoned their principles and have taken up those of the Republican Party.  

The media is well aware of this, although it is denied by many Conservatives and Christians.  For example, according to an article by Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift entitled “First lady declares her independence” the humor was the First Lady's way of saying she's not a religious right zealot, that she's an educated, articulate member of main stream America and this was her declaration of independence.  (12) The author alluded too in the article to the hypocrisy of the silence over the First  Lady's X-rated humor by the religious right who where outraged by Janet Jackson's Super Bowl halftime performance last year when the entertainer exposed herself.  

Also the article continued by saying that the religious right is locked into the Republican Party as a result of the way Bush strategist Karl Rove has framed the issue. And the reason for the silence is that Christians do not want to alienate the GOP at the height of their power with control of the White House and both houses of Congress all to accomplish their goal to strengthen the conservative grip on the judiciary.  

Although it has been reported that Mrs. Bush has never actually seen the hit racy television show “Desperate Housewives,” she conveyed the message that she is just like the adulterous women that are portrayed in the ABC series.   Furthermore, how would Christians and Conservatives have reacted during the Clinton Administration if Senator Hillary Clinton at the annual White House Correspondent's Association dinner said that she is a desperate housewife and went to the Chippendale male strip  club with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and US Attorney General Janet Reno? They would have been outraged.  

Although the Bush's have mastered conservative rhetoric they have many liberal tendencies.  In fact, what was even more interesting was that to reporters who cover the White House Mrs. Bush's performance, and President Bush's reaction, was not a shock. (13)  In May 2002, the President invited Satanic Rocker, Ozzy Osbourne to a White House Ball where he complimented him and showed him the best hospitality a President can. Though the President has said he reads the Bible daily he has confessed to the New York Times that he does not believe every single word is literally true.  Regarding the creation-evolution debate the President believes that the verdict is still out on how God created the earth.  And contrary to the teaching of Scripture has publicly professed that Muslims and Christians worship the same God.    Regarding his policies, the President has supported increased Federal involvement in education; has increased the size and spending of the federal government greater than Lyndon Johnson's “Great Society” with record deficits;” has proposed an amnesty program for illegal aliens;  and has signed into law McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform that effectively eviscerated the First Amendment as well as a massive expansion of Medicare.  And still the President is embraced by Conservatives and Christians alike. What they fail to realize is that by not standing on principle they have allowed President Bush to neutralize the Conservative voice in the Republican Party that has been the party's strength and have weakened it with Rockefeller Republican ideology.  

As Consevatives and Christians stand by silently while the Bush's promote liberal ideology and abandon the Consevative and Christian principles that have made the Republican Party so sucessful in gaining political office, they neutralize their effectiveness.      

The media is right to challenge the hypocrisy of Christians and Conservatives regarding Republicans.  For example, Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, has been reported is disgusted and alarmed by Senator Trent Lott who is to have cut a deal with the Democrats to preserve the filibuster of judges but has said nothing about Laura Bush's off color humor.(14)  Also, silent have been Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.   

For too long Christians as well as Conservatives have embraced pro-Republican personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter as their own but do not realize when they do not represent their views, the left and the media are soon to criticize collectively Christians and Conservatives not the individual personality.  For example Ann Coulter appeared on the Tonight Show hosted by Jay Leno on May 10, 2005.   Miss Coulter wore a black dress and a cross draped around her neck and if the dress were any shorter she might as well have been wearing nothing.  And Christians wonder why Muslims look at them as immoral hypocrites.  Furthermore, during the interview, Jay Leno alleged that Ann Coulter had dated Bill Maher host of HBO's “Real Time with Bill Maher.”  During a February appearance on MSNBC's “Scarborough Country” Maher told Joe Scarborough, “We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion.  I do believe that.  I think that religion stops people from thinking.  I think it justifies crazies.  I think flying planes into a building was a faith-based initiative.  I think religion is a neurological disorder.  If you look at it logically, it's something that was drilled into your head when you were a small child.  It certainly was drilled into mine at that age.  And you really can't be responsible when you are a kid for what adults put into your head.”  (15) Maher explained that he was targeting all “religious” people and not singling out evangelicals.  It is hard to believe that Ann Coulter would have anything in common with Bill Maher if she were a conservative.  

Also, “Conservative” talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity continue to promote themselves as conservatives; and though they may have similar issues as Christians and Conservatives, their ideology and belief is that of the Republican Party which they shamelessly promote.  They do not care what is in the best interest for America, as long as they have access to big name “Republicans” as guests or to name drop to impress listeners who they are friends with so that their shows produce ratings.  However, they received a surprise this last Arbitron Winter Book rating period as their rating declined.  Americans finally started to wake-up that these talk show hosts are not seekers of the truth but promoters of the Republican Party agenda.  

And who would have thought that the former Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senator Hillary Clinton would cheerfully together promote legislation on health care changes?  Well it happened on May 11, 2005, when the two appeared outside the Capitol to promote legislation that would modernize medical record-keeping.  

What one must realize is that although Conservatives and Christians make up the Republican Party, their beliefs are not always the same. Furthermore, there is also a difference between Christians and Conservatives. The GOP is going off course led by President Bush who is embracing a Rockefeller Republican ideology.  For those that may not be familiar with the term Rockefeller Republican, it refers to the late Nelson Rockefeller, governor of New York from 1959 to 1973 and vice president of the United States under President Gerald Ford in the mid-1970s.  Such individual's views are quite moderate, even liberal, in their postions on domestic and social polices but often about foreign policy are conservative.  However, regarding foreign policy  a conservative view is an oxymorom.  For example, President Bush took the right response to terror using the U.S. miltary but after liberating Iraq has decided to occupy the country using a politically correct strategy.     

There is no doubt Christians and Conservatives have embraced too many Republican  personalities that vocally sound Conservative but their actions are mute.  And they have failed to realize that when Republicans fail so too will Christians and Conservatives because they stood by idly and do nothing.  Apart from a foundation of religion and morality, good government is impossible and when leaders of a political party or their spouses do not meet this criteria it is the duty of Christians and Conservatives to remind them.  However, as long as Christians and Conservatives have the back seat on the Republican political bus they will continue to look the other way all in the name of political access hoping the Republicans will throw them a few political crumbs.  

End Notes  

  1. John Tierney, “Laura Bush Talks Naughty,” The New York Times, May 3, 2005.
  2. Joseph Curl, “Laura leaves ‘em laughing, gasping,” The Washington Times, May 2, 2005.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift entitled “First lady declares her independence, “ The Daily Advance, May 6, 2005.
  13. John Tierney, “Laura Bush Talks Naughty,” The New York Times, May 3, 2005.
  14. “Dobson ‘disgusted' on Lott-judge deal,” WorldNetDaily.com, May 11, 2005.
  15. “Bill Maher: Christians have neurological disorder,” WorldNetDaily.com, February 18, 2005.