Political Hay

Gretchen Carlson Is Right

The connection between a dishonored crèche, Blago, and Bernie Madoff.

By 12.16.08

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Gretchen Carlson is indignant.

Good for her.

It is all too easy to shrug one's shoulders at the cavalier treatment of Christmas by Washington state's governor, Christine Gregoire. With the spotlight switched on by Bill O'Reilly, Americans learned Gregoire was responsible for allowing the presence in the state's capitol of a sign denigrating Christianity and God, the sign not only present at one of the most sacred holidays in Western culture but provocatively placed next to a Christmas crèche. Among other things, the sign, created by the atheist "Freedom from Religion Foundation," rants in the typical atheist bromides that, among other things in a propaganda laundry list, "religion is but a myth and a superstition." The ensuing uproar sparked demands for other displays, including one for the fake "Festivus" holiday borne of the imagination of a Seinfeld writer.

Enter Ms. Carlson, the co-host of morning television's Fox and Friends alongside Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade. Seemingly startling her colleagues with her vehemence, Carlson made plain exactly what she thought of Gregoire's decision to effectively trash one of the most sacred holidays on the Christian calendar, a holiday celebrating the birth of Christ that is also a federal holiday. Her observations attracted attention from O'Reilly, where she tartly observed on his show that "Jesus is taking a back seat" at the celebration of His birth. She also revealed that she is the granddaughter of a minister, giving her outrage special force.

Carlson's criticism, and the passion with which she delivered it are right on the mark. She is but the latest to confront eye-rolling skepticism if not outright hostility as a defender of Christmas, joining both O'Reilly and Fox's John Gibson (the latter with a book, The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought).

It is fascinating if not laugh-out-loud funny to hear various quarters express outrage over the latest revelations swirling around Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Madoff, a longtime liberal Democrat and financial backer, and Blagojevich, the liberal Democrat from Chicago, stand accused respectively of stealing $50 billion (that's "billion" with a "b") in a massive Ponzi scheme and trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat of President-elect Barack Obama for personal profit. The outraged make zero connection between these two disasters with the centrality -- yes, the sacredness- of the Judeo-Christian values that are at the heart of the creation of America itself.

Former Judge Robert Bork once noted that "religion is essential to the health of American culture and, perhaps, to the survival of our democratic institutions." Bork (who was defeated in a bitter fight for a seat on the United States Supreme Court for holding precisely views such as this) made this observation a decade ago, and certainly has not been alone in doing so. Long before Blagojevich's profanity-laced attempt to sell the Senate seat of the president-elect of the United States to the highest bidder. Long before Americans, already reeling from the fallout of Fannie Mae's greedy power plays that imploded the US economy along with the financial security of millions, learned the other day of the stunning $50 billion Madoff Ponzi scheme.

One wonders if the victims of the economic implosion and Madoff's alleged illegal -- and yes, immoral -- behavior -- are aware of the Washington state controversy at all. If they make any connection between Gretchen Carlson's outrage and their own shocking plight at the hands of Madoff.

The presence of that crèche in the Washington state capitol is a sacred reminder of the morality that is the foundation of the American idea itself. It is a morality encoded in the laws of Washington state, laws Governor Gregoire is sworn to uphold. It is a morality enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, not to mention carved in marble in one Washington, D.C. monument, memorial and office building after another.

Gretchen Carlson's larger point is not only plain to see for some of us, it is also plain to see that ignoring the point of what she has to say has very real world consequences.

The Judeo-Christian faith represented by that crèche includes principles -- and actually these principles are called "commandments." There are ten of them. Mr. Madoff stands accused of violating not just federal securities laws but laws specifically and deliberately based on one of these commandments: "Thou shall not steal." If this commandment is not only sacred and deserving of stand-alone presentation on a major public holiday in a state capitol, if it is just so much "superstition" and "myth" as the atheists' sign next to that crèche insists, what did Mr. Madoff do wrong?

Media reports shriek of very angry people distraught that their life savings have been plundered, of distraught investors radiating out from America and going literally around the globe. But if in fact that crèche is not sacred and is undeserving of the respectful treatment it is not receiving from Governor Gregoire, why all the upset? So Bernie Madoff stole lots of money. So he may have ruined the lives of untold numbers of people. So what? To follow the Gregoire logic, the Governor is enforcing laws that are in fact a fraud themselves, laws based on the superstition and myth discussed on the sign in her own state capitol. A sign which, by its mere presence at this time of year, implies parity with the values represented by that crèche.

Certainly we must view the fury over Governor Blagojevich in a new light as well if we are prepared to ignore what Gretchen Carlson is saying. So the guv tried to sell a seat in the U.S. Senate for personal profit? Who cares? What's to fuss? Let Blago be Blago!

For that matter, why the all the uproar over someone else in the news -- O.J. Simpson? Sure there are people all over the country who believe the ex-football great got away with the brutal murder of two people, one of them his wife. It seems this contributed to his recent conviction for trying to forcibly take back some memorabilia he believed belonged to him. (O.J. was angry that someone had STOLEN his stuff. Imagine that! Where did he ever get the idea stealing was wrong?) If that crèche in Washington state is just about superstition and myth, then O.J. (assuming he did it, of course) has been put through the ringer for years for…nothing. So he murdered two people. So what? Who cares? One cares if one believes and understands that Simpson violated not just the laws of California when he wielded that knife but a sacred value represented by that crèche in Washington state: "Thou shall not kill." That's the big deal.

Gretchen Carlson and millions of others of us -- imperfect human beings one and all -- understand instinctively the connection between the presence of that crèche as a stand-alone sacred image celebrating a sacred holiday and the bedrock of American values and law.

There is more than plenty of tolerance for debate and disagreement in our society. The First Amendment -- based on the same values Carlson is defending -- ensures this. Yet it is a fact that the sacred nature represented in the presence of that Washington crèche on the occasion of the celebration of the birth of Christ keeps us all, atheists included, protected as much as possible from the actions of a Bernard Madoff, a Rod Blagojevich or an O.J. Simpson. Not to mention a Hitler or a Stalin or a Saddam Hussein.

Ms. Carlson's outrage was right on target. She is exactly right to look into the cameras and call for the stand-alone display of that crèche. She understands perfectly what it represents, and that without the reverence and respect of those values we are all in serious trouble. If, as Governor Gregoire maintains by her own actions in this instance, that the values represented in this crèche are some sort of joke or are morally relative and no big deal, that they do not deserve to be treated with the reverence and respect millions give them, then why does Washington state need a governor at all?

After all, if it turns out some atheist investor in Washington has been robbed by Mr. Madoff, the real question from the rest of us should be: who cares?

One suspects that Gretchen Carlson knows the right answer to that question is decidedly not "who cares?" I'll bet her minister grandfather would know the answer too.

So, I'll bet, do many of the rest of us. Except, apparently, the proponents of political liberalism such as the likes of, well, Bernie Madoff and Governor Blagojevich.

And Governor Bag's fellow liberal -- Governor Christine Gregoire.

Dare I say it? Dare I write the words based on that crèche, words that some so hate? What the heck.

Merry Christmas to Gretchen Carlson.

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.