Unable to win as liberals this year, some Democratic candidates seek to win as conservatives, no matter how ludicrous the posture appears. Some of the same Democrats who campaigned against “nativists” and “Christianists” in 2008 have become them in 2010. Kentucky Senate Candidate Jack Conway, for example, is now a very pious religious fundamentalist. Who knew this proponent of abortion on demand and gays in the military read the Book of Leviticus so faithfully? Who knew this respecter of all religions had such disdain for Eastern gods?
A few years ago, a candidate like Conway might have campaigned alongside Buddhists, with Richard Gere in tow. Al Gore might have even joined him to fish for dubious donations at their temples. But this year, the left’s false idols have been banished from sight, and the Democrats now claim to live in deadly fear of “foreign” money sloshing through American politics.
Conway has also become a chivalrous defender of women, tossing and turning at night as he thinks about Rand Paul’s college-age pranksterism. The female in question admits that she participated in the juvenile prank freely and says the matter has been blown out of proportion. Still, Conway is gravely concerned about Rand Paul’s moral and theological fitness for the U.S. Senate. Paul apparently lacks the maturity, gravitas, and biblical study of an Al Franken.
Not that Conway isn’t an understanding or forgiving person, as Bill Clinton can attest. Conway’s description of Paul as a pot-smoking mistreater of women would be more appropriate as an intro line for Clinton at one of Conway’s campaign events. Conway brought Aqua Bubba into Kentucky recently, untroubled by thoughts of Bill’s forced and unforced votaries.
Clinton’s fumblings with a widow and cavortings with a bowed intern in the Oval Office are “irrelevant” to his public life, declares the dominant media. But a Rand Paul (whose prank didn’t even involve sex) or a Clarence Thomas (who stands accused at worst of talking salaciously to a female subordinate) are heckled by that same media over questions about comparatively ancient and less serious charges of misconduct. The older and thinner the charge (provided it smears a conservative), the more it raises “troubling questions” for the media.
Hence on Wednesday, in the middle of a campaign season, breathless coverage of a voice mail left by Clarence Thomas’ wife for Anita Hill ensued. Veteran correspondent Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC bit into the old tale eagerly, happy to relive the excitement of the early 1990s. At the same time, Mitchell, desperate to make an utterly irrelevant curiosity story relevant somehow, felt the need to inform viewers that Mrs. Clarence Thomas supports the “Tea Party.” Oh, my.
The New York Times also provided all-hands-on-deck coverage of this terribly important breaking story. No less than three reporters contributed to its first account of the matter, which solemnly brought younger readers up to speed by saying of Hill, “In 1991, she was at the center of a confrontation that deeply divided the country and prompted a national debate about sexual behavior in the workplace.”
Catch that last bit? It prompted a national debate about sexual behavior in the workplace. Doesn’t this qualify as insidious scandal-inflation? Even his fiercest critics haven’t accused Thomas of engaging “in sexual behavior in the workplace.” They accused him of talking coarsely in the workplace. But the Times just slips this into the story as a casual smear.
For a media that operates like this, Rand Paul is a kidnapper and Clarence Thomas is a rapist. Bill Clinton, meanwhile, according to the media’s latest burblings, is one of the most respected men in the world, going from success to success as his global foundation tackles such problems as the sexual exploitation of teenage girls.