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Gary Horton: Life’s lessons lessen labels

Posted: June 30, 2009 7:10 p.m.
Updated: July 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Gifted writer and Signal Columnist Steve Lunetta doth protest too much.

With South Carolina Republican Governor and moral basket case Mark Sanford caught hightailing for tail in Argentina — hot on the heels of Nevada Republican Sen. Ensign doing the adulterous dirty with his own friend’s wife — Lunetta reached deep and in his Monday “Right About Now” opinion column delivered some good old-fashioned righteous indignation as cover for his beloved Republican brand.

How dare these wayward adulterators soil the upstanding moral reputation of the Grand Old Party.

While he might expect such tawdry behavior as “typical” from secular, worldly Democrats, Lunetta says, “We Republicans must hold our public officials to higher moral standards.”

Republican standards shouldn’t prove hard to raise, given how low they’re standing.

It’s not just Sanford and Ensign. There’s been a long, wretched rash of these Republican moral morassers on hypocrisy parade.

Repressed Republican gay Senator Larry Craig, tap, tap, tapping for gay sex in an airport bathroom.

Repressed gay Representative Mark Foley sending sexy e-mails to his male page. Or Louisiana Senator David Vitter outted as patron of a Washington prostitution ring.

And these dudes might not be just some small exception.

These are just the ones we’ve heard about.

The point of dalliances and affairs is to keep them secret. These guys are just the dumb ones that got caught by a peering electorate.

One can only imagine the Republican lust going on where the light of truth don’t shine.

But Lunetta does hit some good points. None of our leaders should be excused for unseemly and deceptive conduct. Lunetta is right — if a man can’t keep a promise to his wife, how could we possibly believe he would be faithful to us?

Still, Lunetta is wrong when he concurrently claims some Republican higher moral ground. “We expect better of Republicans,” he asserts. “Why?” I retort.

We’ve not witnessed anything supporting that expectation, save self-serving verbalizing of such morality. Republican actions of late have been speaking much more loudly than words.

But say things often enough and people believe. Slap a clever label on a can and it flies off the shelves.

Image becomes reality to undisciplined minds...until reality is exposed by the harsh light of facts.

And so we see Steve Lunetta’s column seeking to distance the GOP brand from ... the leaders of the GOP.

But is the GOP label is worth saving? Might reality have too much stretched credulity?

The GOP was sold as the disciplined, Grown Up Party. They could be trusted with the books, run defense, restore honor and while at it, lead with piety.

This much can be said: I don’t think George cheated on Laura. As for the rest of it, the Grown Up Party went on a total bender.

So on their watch, the “moral” Grown Up Party gave us 9/11. They gave us unending wars. Trillion-dollar deficits. The closest thing we’ll see to the Great Depression.

And untold tax breaks for the ultra-rich. But Steve Lunetta’s big bug — is that these baboons can’t keep their privies in their pants.

I still recall Congressman McKeon personally telling me three years ago, “Gary, we’re in a real world of hurt for leadership.” Judging from the continuing Republican effort at post defeat rebranding, it appears they still are.

My point is this: The GOP brand is dead and the “R” label is meaningless. In recently observed fact, the GOP stands for nothing of special merit. Their recent sex follies are but an outward manifestation of greater, inward corruption.

I’ll go one step further and say that nearly all political labels have been rendered obsolete.

We are a diverse country with diverse concerns and narrow categorization does not define us or our leaders.

There is no “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for any politician, R, D or I. There is no typical “liberal” as Lunetta likes to write.

America would be better served by stripping parties from the process and instead asking, “What’s that guy really made of?” “What’s really in that can, behind the label of his party?”

As with the case with the infamous “family values” gay-hating fallen preacher Ted Haggert, often the loudest morality mongers are the ones with the biggest issues to hide. This, be it for sex, finances or integrity.

So be wary of labels and slogans. They’re word-shields protecting their bearers from critical analysis — and often, detection. Yes, there are some great Republicans out there.

But it’s not the party that makes the man.

So Lunetta, I think you doth protest too much.

Too much righteous indignation defending a party brand vexed with much worse than adultery.

You’re covering for even bigger flaws in a party gone wild.

And Lunetta, you mocked my coffee shop and my coffee shop pals. You bought into labels and drew precisely the wrong conclusion.

I don’t buy those expensive, fancy drinks with the chocolate sprinkles you seem to know so much about. I’m a plain coffee guy.

That fancy stuff is too expensive for my sensibilities.

Labels lie.

Lesson learned.

Gary Horton lives in Valencia. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

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