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Arnold Terminates Family Values
September 16, 2003
By Stephen Watson

Gangbanging. Drunk driving. Compulsive gambling. Underage drinking. Is this the standard Republicans had in mind when they began shoving "family values" down our collective throats during the 1990s?

In the 90s, you couldn't walk past a TV without creeps like Newt Gingrich or Bill Bennett wagging a crooked schoolmarm finger in your face and croaking something about "family values". Everywhere you went there was talk of family values and the lack of such among those of us who supported President Clinton.

Liberals, the schoolmarms warned, had no family values. Neither did single moms, non-Christians, homosexuals, and anyone who disagreed with Ralph Reed. It seemed Republicans were never going to shut up about family values, at least not while a Democrat was president.

But a lot has changed since the "weak and decadent past," as Bush recently dubbed the most prosperous decade in our history. Gingrich, the Elvis of Family Values, has long since traded in his cancer-stricken wife for the newer model he was seeing on the side. And it turns out much of the cash Bill Bennett earned from his virtuous books has been compulsively pumped down the not-very-virtuous slot machines of Sin City.

Now the man the morally-superior Right chose to restore dignity to the White House has a history of coming up short in the area of wholesome values. Having been nailed for driving while intoxicated, George Bush is the only convicted criminal to be sworn in as president of the United States. During his presidential campaign, questions arose over his alleged cocaine use in the seventies, and Bush refused to answer any of them. Most recently, the man who would restore character to the White House has been caught bald-faced lying about weapons of mass destruction to scare Americans into supporting a chaotic and bloody occupation of Iraq.

And let's not forget daughters Jenna and Barbara... living, walking, drinking proof that the apple never passes out far from the tree. Who can read of the Bush twins' wild adventures and not grasp the damage that is wrought by parents who lack decent, wholesome values?

But if the right wing jury remains out (pumping slot machines? someone's wife?) with regard to the Bush family's inability to channel The Waltons, they've skipped town completely on the subject of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Where are the right's moral shock troops now that the newest representative of the Republican party is a gangbanging, woman-groping, pot enthusiast? Don't they realize that fielding a moral meathead like Schwarzenegger nullifies every claim the GOP has made as the supposed party of family values?

Wherever they are, they couldn't care less. Winning California is everything to the GOP these days; "Family values" is just a ratty old strawman they trotted out to keep the extra chromosome crowd in the red states smiling. And really, who cares about pandering to those simpletons when the party's got them sewn up anyway? At the end of the day, when the choice is made between defending the downhome, country values to which they pay empty lip service, or shuffling into Sacramento on the back of a flashy, Hollywood grope artist, it's no contest. The Ingles family will be walking the plank.

So if there is a silver lining to Arnold's candidacy, it's that family values is now officially a dead issue for the finger-wagging schoolmarms of the GOP. The rest of us should never hear that crass, empty phrase from any of them ever again.

At least until a Democrat is president.

Stephen Watson is somewhere near Golden, Colorado.

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