Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Mark Steyn: Santorum, Bennett controversies much ado about nothing
Chicago Sun-Times ^ | 05/11/03 | Mark Steyn

Posted on 05/12/2003 1:18:40 AM PDT by Pokey78

The main drawback of being a professional opinionist is that you're expected to have opinions on everything. When your average moviegoer leaves the theater, he shrugs and says, ''Let's go eat.'' That's not an option available to Roger Ebert, who has to string it out for a few more paragraphs.

But just lately, on being urged by various correspondents to weigh in on this or that allegedly burning controversy, I find myself shrugging, ''Let's go eat.''

Example One: Republican Sen. Rick Santorum's thoughts on homosexuality. I won't bother printing the quote, since it's rambling and incoherent, and even when you fill in the missing verbs and work out which nouns they apply to, it doesn't exactly sound thought out. At first, it appeared that the senator was comparing gay relationships to pedophilia and bestiality. On closer examination, he was comparing them to incest and polygamy. Then some polygamists complained that being compared to gays was demeaning to them. All this was in the immediate context of the constitutionality of sodomy laws and the broader debate around the push for ''gay marriage.'' It wasn't so much that Santorum was right or wrong on the constitutionality as that he'd made it obvious he didn't accord gay relationships the same value as heterosexual ones.

I can understand why this would be hurtful to homosexuals. The gay conservative Andrew Sullivan challenged those of us on the right to disown Santorum, and for a moment I was minded to rise to the bait. It is, after all, extremely irritating when the president has just led America to a great victory, and the Democrats are mired in their own ineptness, to find a Republican senator, for no good reason, confirming the old stereotype that we right-wing types are uptight squares who can't get with the beat. Had I been one of Santorum's many aides, I'd have advised him to plough into this bog only if he had something uniquely insightful to contribute to the debate, and on no account to mention pedophilia or bestiality.

On the other hand, it is a fact that, except for a few precincts in New York, Florida, Massachusetts and California, there is no political downside whatsoever to being seen as anti-gay--or, at any rate, non-pro-gay. According to a poll taken last year, 43 percent of Americans believe homosexual relations between consenting adults should be illegal. That's to say, never mind gay marriage, gays in the military, gay partner benefits, but just plain old-fashioned gay sex should be verboten. Of the remaining 57 percent prepared to tolerate legal homosexuality, it's fair to say a reasonable chunk believe ''tolerance'' means that, when a couple of fellers move into your apartment building, you turn up the volume on Lawrence Welk and ignore the vibrating chandelier. It doesn't mean you want to see gay newlyweds posing for snaps on the church common.

That being so, why shouldn't Santorum say what he said? More to the point, wouldn't it be worse if he felt he couldn't say what he said? It would surely be an odd comment on American democracy if the views of half the American people on a particular subject could not be expressed by a member of the United States Congress. One of the great strengths of this republic is that it's a rawer, more responsive polity than the decayed democracies of Europe. On the Continent, the political elites of all mainstream parties have ruled more and more topics out of bounds, no matter how strongly the electors feel about them--the death penalty, immigration, the new euro currency--all are beyond discussion. The elites have pronounced, and that's that. So in recent elections, faced with a choice between Tweedleleft and Tweedleright, voters have turned increasingly to fringe parties--elderly fascists, gay libertarians, anti-crime xenophobes.

When the rulers insist they know better than the masses, don't be surprised if the masses look elsewhere. I wouldn't vote for a state sodomy law, and some of the sex acts proscribed in the more broadly drawn anti-sodomy legislation I still dream fondly of getting to try one day, if I ever find anyone willing to have sex with me. But the gay lobby hasn't yet closed the deal with the American people on the equalization of homosexual relationships and, by insisting haughtily that it has and that the case is now closed, it's behaving in a manner more appropriate to the diseased Chiraquiste democracies of Europe than to the rough 'n' tumble of America.

Example Two: William Bennett's gambling habit--or, if you prefer, ''addiction.'' Here again, I can swing either way. On the one hand, it's another almost laughably phony controversy. We all know that Bennett's attackers are making do. They'd much rather he'd been caught on video smoking crack with a transsexual hooker. But he wasn't, so his gambling habit will have to do, the argument being that, as a moral conservative, he's a hypocrite: He's supposed to be a joyless churl, yet he's stepping out on the town and whooping it up.

On the other hand, his high-living Vegas lifestyle sounds pretty joyless to me. When it was first reported that he was a ''heavy gambler,'' I thought of Sky Masterson rolling the dice and singing ''Luck Be A Lady.'' Or James Bond in an immaculate tux sitting across the roulette table from an Italian contessa who's working for Blofeld as the croupier says ''les jeux sont faits.'' But instead of these games of skill Bill Bennett prefers slot machines: that's to say, one of the most successful men in America likes to stand by himself watching the pretty colors whir round hour after hour after hour. ''That ain't gambling, that's masturbation,'' says the Internet chappie and comic novelist Ken Layne. ''What sort of lame-ass anti-social creep would spend millions pushing buttons in the Lonely Department?''

Layne may be on to something. There are some activities which, regardless of their legal status or any criminal record arising therefrom, leave a man diminished. When George Michael attacks Bush and Blair, I'm not interested in getting lessons in foreign policy from a guy who solicits sex in public toilets. Sorry about that, it doesn't mean he's incapable of making a cute video, but the men's-room sex pretty much rules him out of the geopolitical commentary game. Likewise, given Scott Ritter's run-ins with law enforcement apropos his fondness for teenage girls, I'm not inclined to listen to his views on Iraq. Every time he's on CNN huffing about the Bush administration, I picture him sitting in Burger King across the table from some pigtailed schoolgirl sharing a chocolate shake with two straws. Sorry, big boy, it's over.

Where does Bennett's preferred extracurricular activity fall on this continuum? To be honest, I'm not sure. I do know that it's very odd to see an Internet jailbait-chaser still being passed off as an expert analyst on world affairs while a wealthy man is excoriated for a lawful if mildly pathetic habit. When Bennett's caught in a public toilet, then we can start pulping The Book Of Virtues: Scandal-wise, a flush beats a full house.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Pennsylvania
KEYWORDS: bennett; marksteyn; marksteynlist; santorum

1 posted on 05/12/2003 1:18:40 AM PDT by Pokey78
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Howlin; riley1992; Miss Marple; deport; Dane; sinkspur; steve; kattracks; JohnHuang2; ...

2 posted on 05/12/2003 1:21:23 AM PDT by Pokey78
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pokey78
When your average moviegoer leaves the theater, he shrugs and says, ''Let's go eat.'' That's not an option available to Roger Ebert, who has to string it out for a few more paragraphs.

And a few more courses, apparently.

3 posted on 05/12/2003 1:34:56 AM PDT by Cincinatus (Omnia relinquit servare Republicam)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pokey78
Good morning!
4 posted on 05/12/2003 2:30:08 AM PDT by KeyWest
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: scholar; Bullish; linear
Ping
5 posted on 05/12/2003 3:42:51 AM PDT by knighthawk (Full of power I'm spreading my wings, facing the storm that is gathering near)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Cincinatus; Pokey78
<< When your average moviegoer leaves the theater, he shrugs and says, ''Let's go eat.'' That's not an option available to Roger Ebert, who has to string it out for a few more paragraphs.

And a few more courses, apparently. >>

That passage?

As any passing Antipodean might be inclined to observe:

"Whadda Beeaudey!!"
6 posted on 05/12/2003 5:05:39 AM PDT by Brian Allen ( Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God - Thomas Jefferson)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Pokey78
That being so, why shouldn't Santorum say what he said? More to the point, wouldn't it be worse if he felt he couldn't say what he said? It would surely be an odd comment on American democracy if the views of half the American people on a particular subject could not be expressed by a member of the United States Congress.

A pretty sad comment on the late Great United States. Freedom of speech is not freedom from speech.

7 posted on 05/12/2003 5:27:58 AM PDT by American in Israel (Right beats wrong)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pokey78; sweetliberty
why shouldn't Santorum say what he said? More to the point, wouldn't it be worse if he felt he couldn't say what he said? It would surely be an odd comment on American democracy if the views of half the American people on a particular subject could not be expressed by a member of the United States Congress.

Agreed; besides, Santorum is being attacked because he believes in moral absolutes, a mirror to which the democRats and gays don't hold up for themselves to see---if they did, then they might be less debase in their behaviors: voter fraud, lying, KKK membership, philandering, rape, drunken driving leading to death (of a woman in Chappequa), promiscuity, sex with underage children (boys and girls), immodest to the point of revulsion ("gay pride parades"), gerbel use, ad infinitum.

I do know that it's very odd to see an Internet jailbait-chaser still being passed off as an expert analyst on world affairs while a wealthy man is excoriated for a lawful if mildly pathetic habit. When Bennett's caught in a public toilet, then we can start pulping The Book Of Virtues: Scandal-wise, a flush beats a full house.

Agreed; sorry, but he who is without sin may cast the first stone. Point number 1: Bennett's slot-machine gambling is not illegal; he broke NO laws. If this is his only vice, then all it proves is something I already knew: he's not God (I never thought he was). Point number 2: I think he's a good man who probably has areas in his life he must improve. God bless him as he seeks help to do so. Point number 3: I have several areas to improve, but that doesn't negate my instructing my children (or even others) to do "what is right." I would be remiss in my duties as parent and friend if I did otherwise.

Point number 4: I don't recall Bill Bennett ever claiming to be a perfect soul, Jesus Christ, or the Reverend Jesse Jackson (as pure and honest as they come). And we'd be the fools had we believed Bennett had he ever said he does no "evil."

I'll listen to Bill Bennett any day over the "Reverend."

8 posted on 05/12/2003 5:28:25 AM PDT by nicmarlo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Pokey78
Santorum, Bennett controversies much ado about nothing

Exactly! They are B.R.O.W.s Bad Republicans Of the Week
9 posted on 05/12/2003 5:31:14 AM PDT by Valin (Age and deceit beat youth and skill)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pokey78
When Bennett's caught in a public toilet, then we can start pulping The Book Of Virtues: Scandal-wise, a flush beats a full house.

Is this guy good or what?

10 posted on 05/12/2003 5:38:50 AM PDT by LarryM
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Pokey78
It is becoming imperative that we find a way to clone Mark Steyn. Yes, I know he's young and healthy, but still, it's wise to be prepared. This man is the best and wittiest pundit of our day.

Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Visit The Palace Of Reason:
http://palaceofreason.com

11 posted on 05/12/2003 6:20:45 AM PDT by fporretto (Curmudgeon Emeritus, Palace of Reason)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nicmarlo
of a woman in Chappequa

I know it's hard to keep the Dem scandals straight, but the Kennedy "incident" was in Chappaquiddick, MA. The Chappequa woman is something else entirely!

12 posted on 05/12/2003 7:11:28 AM PDT by maryz
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: maryz
Chappaquiddick

Yes, sorry; obviously, that's what I meant! : )

13 posted on 05/12/2003 7:30:52 AM PDT by nicmarlo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Pokey78
LOL !

I wouldn't vote for a state sodomy law, and some of the sex acts proscribed in the more broadly drawn anti-sodomy legislation I still dream fondly of getting to try one day, if I ever find anyone willing to have sex with me.

14 posted on 05/12/2003 9:12:05 AM PDT by MeekOneGOP (Bu-bye Dixie Chimps! / Check out my Freeper site !: http://home.attbi.com/~freeper/wsb/index.html)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Pokey78
LOL !

Layne may be on to something. There are some activities which, regardless of their legal status or any criminal record arising therefrom, leave a man diminished. When George Michael attacks Bush and Blair, I'm not interested in getting lessons in foreign policy from a guy who solicits sex in public toilets. Sorry about that, it doesn't mean he's incapable of making a cute video, but the men's-room sex pretty much rules him out of the geopolitical commentary game. Likewise, given Scott Ritter's run-ins with law enforcement apropos his fondness for teenage girls, I'm not inclined to listen to his views on Iraq. Every time he's on CNN huffing about the Bush administration, I picture him sitting in Burger King across the table from some pigtailed schoolgirl sharing a chocolate shake with two straws. Sorry, big boy, it's over.

ALBANY - Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter was secretly prosecuted in Albany County in 2001 after he was snared in an Internet sex sting operation, law enforcement sources told the Daily News .

< snip >

He was arrested by Colonie Police in June 2001 on a misdemeanor charge after he allegedly had a sexual discussion on the Internet with an undercover investigator he thought was an underage girl, law enforcement sources disclosed on condition of anonymity.



Scott Ritter:
Show me tha money !

Scott Ritter was paid for his interest in a movie - $400,000. Some discussion on this article here on FR...

Also this FR article...

Scott Ritter in Pro-Iraq Movie Deal

15 posted on 05/12/2003 9:23:35 AM PDT by MeekOneGOP (Bu-bye Dixie Chimps! / Check out my Freeper site !: http://home.attbi.com/~freeper/wsb/index.html)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pokey78
How did the leftist journos get actual figures for Bennett's gambling? Was it Terry Lenzner's secret police? Are the gangsters in Las Vegas going to see to it that the people responsible sleep with the fishes? Are they going to stop supporting RAT politicians like Harry Reid?
16 posted on 05/12/2003 10:19:52 AM PDT by aristeides
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nicmarlo
RE: Point 2- There is no suggestion anywhere that Bennett's gambling caused anyone in his family or social circle to be malnourished or to go about in rags. Gambling is not a sin unless it is done to "excess"-your children go hungry and have no shoes.There is here no reason to chide Mr. Bennett on any score other than the imputed psychological characteristic of aloneness. It is, for a rich man, no different from obsessive solitaire.
17 posted on 05/12/2003 10:31:45 AM PDT by arthurus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: arthurus
is not a sin unless it is done to "excess"-your children go hungry and have no shoes.There is here no reason to chide Mr. Bennett on any score other than the imputed psychological characteristic of aloneness.

Agreed; however, I have read on a couple threads, and heard in the news, the greatest criticism concerning Mr. Bennett's alleged "addiction;" and if that be the case, which certain individuals believe to be, then he should not be suggesting or advising others on virtuous behavior.

18 posted on 05/12/2003 10:40:35 AM PDT by nicmarlo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: nicmarlo
We shall see. He said he will stop. If he stops there is and there was not even a picture of any hypocrisy. If he stops then there was no addiction. If he does not stop there is still no hypocrisy. Gambling is not illegal and is, in fact, heavily promoted by most of our state governments.It is not immoral any more than eating chocolate is immoral. I don't like gambling. I don't like fishing, either. I don't accuse fishermen or gamblers of hypocrisy if they counsel prudence and fair dealing. Bennett's gambling, considering his capabilities, is no more excessive than is having a second beer.
19 posted on 05/12/2003 12:04:19 PM PDT by arthurus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: arthurus
This is nothing more than a witch hunting, IMHO. What about KKK Bird? What about Slick Willie, lying under oath, before a Grand Jury? What about the Progressive Caucus being a front name for their true aspirations and ambitions: making America a Socialist state, contrary to our Constitution, contrary to their oaths of office? What about their mocking the death of a man by holding a Funerally? What about Slick Willy providing technical info./equipment to the Chinese/N. Koreans? What about Billy the Pig bombing an aspirin factory but not taking OBL when he could have, four different times, which would have prevented thousands dying? What about Hitlery calling the conservatives a VRWC when we didn't like what the Commander in Sinks was doing, yet, she rabidly attacks the Bush Administration? I don't, myself, don't approve of gambling as a routine, only because I think that it can easily lead to addiction or financial problems; however, so does drinking, smoking, drugs, etc. None are worse nor better than the other (well, alcohol and drugs are for me, but there's reasons why---family history....I don't want to "catch it" : ).
20 posted on 05/12/2003 12:30:49 PM PDT by nicmarlo
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: fporretto
This man is the best and wittiest pundit of our day.

I can't believe Fox News doesn't have him
under contract.   I've seen Mark on TV and
he looks capable of it.  It may be the case,
though, that the brilliance of his writing requires
more thought and polishing than can be had
under conditions of spontaneity.  Dennis Miller
seems to be reading cue cards when he speaks,
producing prehashed comedic riffs.  It shows.
21 posted on 05/12/2003 1:31:13 PM PDT by gcruse (Vice is nice, but virtue can hurt you. --Bill Bennett)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Pokey78
Thanks for the ping. Steyn's great.
22 posted on 05/12/2003 3:35:11 PM PDT by GOPJ
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nicmarlo
Congruency is achieved.
23 posted on 05/12/2003 5:24:41 PM PDT by arthurus
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: Pokey78
They'd much rather he'd been caught on video smoking crack with a transsexual hooker.

In which case his writing career would be ruined, but at least he'd have the inside track to be elected mayor of Washington, D.C.

24 posted on 05/12/2003 6:43:46 PM PDT by Colonel_Flagg ("When Iraq is free, they will despise those who marched to keep them in hell." - Mark Steyn)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Colonel_Flagg
Love a good Steyn!!
25 posted on 05/12/2003 8:39:03 PM PDT by lainde
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

Comment #26 Removed by Moderator

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson