Monday, June 9, 1997

Week of 06/09/1997

Affairs of the (Political) Heart
- by David Matthews 2

George Bernard Shaw once asked a woman on the street if she would sleep with him for a million dollars. She said she would. When asked if she would do it for ten dollars, she said "What do you think I am, a whore?"

"We’ve already established that," he replied. "I’m just negotiating the price."

That little joke came to mind this week as I listened with glee to all the back-peddling and crow-eating from Georgia conservatives.

This past Thursday (6/5), former Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers publicly announced that he once had a ten-year affair while serving as AG. Now I know a lot of you are saying "So what?" Here’s the "so what" - First, Bowers was known for actively defending Georgia’s antiquated sex laws. This includes the prohibition of oral and anal sex, even between married, consenting, heterosexual adults! He even took this to the US Supreme Court, and the justices - in a blatantly stupid move - affirmed it in 1988!

Bowers also withdrew a job offer to a female attorney who was planning to "marry" to her lesbian lover. And what was his rationality behind it? He couldn’t have someone working in his office who knowingly engaged in a violation of the law! Apparently he has a very selective knowledge of the law, since adultery is also against the law in Georgia.

So recently Bowers resigned from the AG position to run for governor. And here’s the kicker - he’s claiming to run his campaign on "family values!" The bible-thumpers, moralists, and conservatives had him pegged as THE Republican candidate, as well as the next governor… that is, until Thursday when he dropped the "Fat Man" of bombs to these self-righteous crusaders.

So all day Thursday, conservatives and moralists acted as though someone died. People were angry. They were sad. They were in shock.

Me? I’ll be brutally honest - I laughed! I laughed all day! I find it absolutely hilarious to see the self-righteous fall! If there is any group that truly deserves a reality check, it’s these folks! Here is "Mr. Family Values" having to go in front of the local media and actually admit to being a hypocrite! "The hypocrisy is clear," Bowers told WSB TV. And I agree!

But the best call I heard on the radio talk show stations was from an elderly gentleman who was absolutely livid that now he has to choose between voting his morals and voting for his political party. And he was even angrier because he decided the Republicans needed his vote more than his morals!

I think we’ve just established the price, Madam!

Yes, by Friday the bulk of moralists and conservatives were bitter. Their anger was replaced with a sense of resignation that they HAVE to swallow their morals and support Bowers. To them, having a Republican governor was more important than their moral standards. Worse yet, their anger was directed entirely towards even the conservative members of the media for continuing to mention "the issue." Their spin on it was "he admitted it, he said he was sorry, we forgive him, end of discussion!" Yup, like the spoiled brats they are, they act as though THEY are in control of this issue now.

I would suspect that Bowers had no choice but to publicly admit his affair. Let’s face it, no politician in their right mind would be willing to start off a campaign by sabotaging it! He didn’t wake up Thursday morning and decide to air out dirty laundry out of the blue! Someone, possibly even a rival in his own party, wanted to embarrass him. This was a no-win situation where he had to pick between submitting for public criticism or having it thrust upon him. He chose the former.

Then the moralists try to spin on the fact that he’s not like Bill Clinton. True. Clinton perfected the art of deception and doublespeak. He wouldn’t know how to be truthful to save his life. But the fact that Bowers admitted to the act doesn’t absolve him of it. For ten years he lied to his wife, his family, to the voters of Georgia, to the law, and finally to himself. And all the while pretending to be "Mr. Family Values." All the while pandering to the moralists and the conservatives for their support, just like any other politician. We all knew who Bill Clinton was - otherwise he wouldn’t have been elected, never mind re-elected. But apparently the bulk of conservatives and moralists didn’t know Mike Bowers was a liar and a hypocrite. This little fact was known only to party higher-ups. Bowers wasn’t the only one who wasn't honest and straightforward with the people.

The final spin, the one I really get a kick out of, is that this talk about "the issue" is irrelevant, and we should "examine Bowers’ years of experience serving our state." Oh I see! We should "ignore" the ten years of lying and deliberate deception of his own illegal activities and concentrate on the "good things he’s done." Not too long ago this was the same crowd that was ready to lock Kelly Flynn up for nine years, or at least drum her out of the Air Force in disgrace for having an affair. We should ignore her years of experience and brand her a slut, while forgiving an admitted hypocrite like Mike Bowers. Is that it? By the way, Bowers also resigned his officer’s commission with the Georgia Air National Guard when he made the announcement. So he was also a military officer when he had this affair.

Republicans love to claim they have morals, and that to vote for their party is to vote for those morals. Now Republicans in Georgia might have to choose between those morals and their party. And if they think putting a Republican in the Governor’s house is more important than whether or not he was a liar and a hypocrite, then they will be no different than the Democrats they claim to hate. They will be, to use their own terminology, morally bankrupt.

Benjamin Franklin once said that "he who is of the opinion that money will do anything, can often be suspected of doing anything for money." As we have learned, the same is also true for politics and morality.

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