GOP Is Wagging the Nation
By Stanley Crouch
New York Daily News
From: News and Views | Opinion |
Sunday, December 20, 1998
The President of the United States is headed
for a trial in the Senate. House Speaker-elect Robert Livingston
and a number of Republicans have had their hanky-panky pasts bagged
by snoops like vulgarian Larry Flynt.
Our military, moving free of the United Nations
on this one, is taking action to cripple the development of Saddam
Hussein's weaponry. There is heat in every direction.
But we still get a whole lot of hooey. For one,
there is the extraordinary relationship between the press, the
Republicans and Hollywood in their wagging of the "Wag the Dog"
theory. This refers to a movie in which a President starts a phony
war to deflect attention from his domestic troubles. Public figures
discuss this as though it were a legitimate metaphor for what
is happening now.
Take Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott
to whom I shall return later — who has criticized Mr. Bill in
the past for not being strong enough against Iraq. Now Lott is
talking about Mr. Bill's wagging the dog. I assume that this Republican's
disdain for Hollywood's depiction of politics has taken a pause
for one tabloid moment.
How about this: The United States military establishment
has hated Mr. Bill at least since the controversy over homosexuals
in the armed services.
The brass considers him a draft dodger, a former
pothead and a coward who cut and ran in Somalia when a handful
of our troops were killed and the opposition was no more than
a tribal warlord.
Mr. Bill's calling back a troopship on the way
to Haiti because a gaggle of thugs were on the beach waving around
some Russian rifles was considered more of the same.
This is the short list. Clinton is not, by any
means, the brass' man in the Oval Office. As far as they are concerned,
his lack of military will is why we have a problem with Saddam
Hussein in the first place. Had he shown any of George Bush's
willingness to plant his foot in the Iraqi dictator's posterior,
things would be far more quiet.
So, if Mr. Bill had suddenly developed a taste
for Iraqi blood to cover his impeachment troubles with the gore
of casualties, the men at the top of the military would have gone
Niagara on him in the press. They would have happily wagged his
dog over the falls. So much for that theory.
As for the Republican Party's interest in "the
American people," Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) made a very important
observation on the House floor during the impeachment debate.
By refusing to allow a vote on censure, the ideologues of the
Republican Party made it impossible for the punishment desired
by the majority of the citizenry to get a yea or a nay. All or
nothing at all.
Lastly, when the trial begins in the Senate,
there will be more and more Republicans caught with their pants
down in the wrong places. But neither their bad taste and dishonesty
nor Mr. Bill's about Monica Lewinsky — are as important
as other things.
Secret sexual liaisons with adults are nowhere
nearly as serious as the fact that Lott and Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia
have ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens, considered
a successor to the notorious White Citizens Council that battled
against civil rights during the '50s and '60s. Lott writes a column
for the CCC publication, and Barr was a keynote speaker at a CCC
meeting last June.
An organization called Fairness and Accuracy
in Reporting has been gathering such information on Brother Lott
and Brother Barr. That raises the issue of whether Republicans
will be constantly asked from now on about these men and their
association with unreconstructed Southern racists the same way
that black politicians are always asked about Louis Farrakhan.
We shall see. We shall see. Were a black Democrat
who was Senate majority leader chummy with Farrakhan, you can
bet we wouldn't hear the end of that before, during or after an
impeachment trial. So let's see just how often the media wags
this dog at Brother Lott and Brother Barr.
© Copyright 1998 Daily News, L.P.