Ah, the pressures of election years.
From the minimum two years between getting elected to Congress and running again, to the maximum six years the Senate enjoys, it’s never-ending. The ghost of Election-Past is hardly out the door before Election-To-Come’s chains can be heard, rattling up the steps.
It’s even more complicated when you’re running for president and the levers of opportunity are slippery in the hand. Bill Frist, Senator from Tennessee, has particularly greasy hands and his bid for the nomination looks pretty bleak at the moment.
The interesting thing is that candidates seem inured to what is actually going on, listening too well and too exclusively to their supporters. Frist has shown himself to be as inept as anyone in recent memory at the job of Senate Majority Leader and yet he’s bending over for the radical right in the Republican Party, presuming they think him up to the larger and more complicated job in which George Bush has failed so completely.
Bill has a mission, which is always handy in place of a philosophy or a following. The mission is to excoriate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens for letting the House Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005 languish, as it should languish. Stevens has too much sense to lash out at an already hapless and wounded TV industry with fines ten times the already outrageously high.
But Stevens isn’t trying to become president. One wonders why anyone would aspire to that thankless job. It’s worse than working for George Steinbrenner, but Frist wants it. He sticks a finger in the media eye and expects they’ll go easy on him. Go figure. You want a guy that dumb for president?
So, he’s caved to the Janet-Jackson-reactionaries, those brought the boob-tube a whole new meaning. It’s nice timing for this little tidbit, tossed to the reactionary right. With mid-term elections five months away, what Senator is going to be seen as soft on porn? Idiotic, but hey, since when has Congress ever disregarded the idiotic, when votes were being counted.
We are a country of widely varied addictions and always have been. Since Puritan times, those who claim the right to our moral rectitude are ever vigilant on our collective behalf. Without their constancy, we’d have never enjoyed the fruits of
- Debtors prisons and workhouses
- The war on drugs
- Back-alley abortion
- As well as the current pathological fear of nudity
None of which have added anything positive to our social fabric. No one in the actual business of law or politics has had much luck over the hundreds of years we have been a nation, curbing the addictions of our imperfect selves.
In fact, I doubt the new and improved fashion-plate preaching fraternity would want to stamp out lust and addiction if they could. Where’s the profit in that? Where’s the morality rant, without moral failure? What would happen if the world actually turned out to be safe after the exposure of Janet Jackson’s breast?
I saw my first photograph of a naked breast, not in Playboy, but National Geographic. Women in Africa seemed not to mind nakedness. It was a revelation to me. Countless evangelical invasions of Africa over centuries and yet, there it was. A breast. Uncovered. No more to them than a feeding device for children, one that with the help of God and Nestle, we will successfully cover and reduce to an object of curiosity and sin. How do their complicated and intricate societies maintain themselves with such blatant and unrepentant nakedness?
Mark Twain suggests that the only road to moral perfection is by facing, not hiding the sin
“As by the fires of experience, so by commission of crime you learn real morals. Commit all crimes, familiarize yourself with all sins, take them in rotation (there are only two or three thousand of them), stick to it, commit two or three every day, and by and by you will be proof against them. When you are through you will be proof against all sins and morally perfect. You will be vaccinated against every possible commission of them. This is the only way.”
And he may be right. He has been right a time or two.
No price is too high, according to those who would guide us, for their protections against our weaknesses. Not Al Capone’s Roaring Twenties, nor the billions that keep an international drug trade vying to supply our national addiction. Certainly not the evil minions serving the base greed of Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC or the hundreds of lascivious cable companies. Desperate Housewives and frantic conservatives.
A half-million bucks per occurrence for broadcasting "obscene, indecent, or profane material," however one might choose to define such ambiguous wording. On top of that the FCC would be required to consider revoking the station license of any broadcaster fined three times or more. Talk about your Three-Strikes law.
Twain also said, “ It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”
Slap on the fines, boys. It’s an election year.