Monday, January 18, 1999

Week of 01/18/1999

The GOP Versus Larry Flynt
Hustler Publisher’s Motives Timely, Not Political
- by David Matthews 2

Have you heard the news? Yes, the mysterious "sex police" that has so plagued members of the Republican Party now has a face! And it’s a face the Republicans already love to hate - Larry Flynt!

The founder and publisher of the adult-oriented Hustler magazine has thrown himself into the media orgy called "L’affair Lewinsky" by exposing some of the dirty little secrets of those that would sit in judgment of President Clinton. The first in his sights was Congressman Bob Barr (sadly of my state of Georgia), who was the first member of Congress to request articles of impeachment BEFORE the mess we call Monica was even made public. Flynt promises even more "revelations" in the days and weeks to come. Of course, offering people up to $1,000,000.00 for such information opens up a LOT of closets.

So now that the public has a name they can point fingers and blame for the sexual revelations, the talking heads are now painting Flynt to be the unofficial sexual Torquemada of the Clinton Administration; naming names of every GOP politician with less than perfect marriages.

Already exposed before Barr were Congressmen Daniel Burton, Helen Chenoweth, Henry Hyde, and would-be House Speaker Bob Livingston. Burton, Chenoweth, and Hyde were all exposed by various "liberal" reporters allegedly on the goading of Camp Clinton. But then along came Flynt’s million-dollar want ad, followed by the reported admittance that Livingston "strayed" on occasion during his 30+ years of marriage. Livingston initially was confident about staying in office and looked forward to replacing retiring speaker Newt Gingrich, but quickly changed his mind and announced his plans to resign on the same day the House impeached President Clinton.

Flynt is being credited as the one behind Livingston’s downfall, but in all truthfulness, his people first didn’t know anything about Livingston’s marital infidelities. When asked by MSNBC that day, Flynt said he only WISHED his people had such information on the gentleman from Louisiana. It was only AFTER the media started giving Flynt credibility did he start claiming he was the one who was about to expose Livingston.

So now Larry Flynt is Bill Clinton’s new "friend" right? Bill Clinton’s new "buddy" being the publisher of a sexually-explicit magazine? Is that what we’re being led to believe now?

Let’s get brutally honest here. This is just too damn convenient for this writer to accept!

First of all, the connection is too suspicious for any thinking individual to accept. The Clinton Administration has led the most stringent anti-sex crusades in recent history, from the "Don’t ask, don’t tell" military policy to the Communications Decency Act and the Child Online Protection Act. Unlike the Reagan Administration’s Meese Commission on Pornography, the Clinton Administration has acted to suppress anything sexual in nature, not just coerce people like Meese did. So now we’re led to believe that Clinton is now "chummy" with one of those publishers his administration has worked so damn hard to suppress and imprison?

Clinton has for so long built up this image of being a "family values" kind of guy that it would be preposterous for him to even have a fleeting association with anything sexually explicit. He makes big presentations about him going to church, being seen with his family, and arranging for that "accidental" photo op showing him and Hillary in a private moment. Once he had to admit to an "inappropriate" relationship with Monica Lewinsky, he made a big show about having TWO Baptist ministers around him at public gatherings. Do you REALLY think that he would then want his case to be defended by Larry Flynt of all people?

If anything, the connection of Larry Flynt to Clinton would serve to BENEFIT the Republican Party.

Think about it! The Republicans have long since demonized Flynt. Connecting him to Clinton would validate their crusade to impeach the president. It also serves to chase away some Clinton defenders who happen to be self-righteously against sexually explicit materials. "What? You support Clinton? You support a man who has a known pornographer defend him? You sick bastard! You probably want to let all the rapists and child molesters loose too!"

Worse yet, Flynt’s actions may even serve to benefit the moralists and theocrats who seem to have the GOP in their back pocket. If Flynt can expose some of their more fervent supporters to be the hypocrites they are, they can have those stooges replaced. After all, who do you think arranged for Bob Livingston’s sudden retirement announcement? It certainly wasn’t the outgoing congressman from Louisiana!

So if Flynt isn’t doing this to support the President, WHY is he on a hunt for closet skeletons?

The answer to that is simple - payback! The moralists and theocrats have spent years making Larry Flynt into the symbol of their personal hatred. They have suppressed his businesses, they have had him arrested, they have had him under indictment, one of their people even tried to KILL him, he’s currently awaiting trial once again in Cincinnati for a trumped-up charge of selling adult materials to a minor in an adult-only store. Now, like the theocrats had their comeuppance in the late 80’s, the conservatives are being exposed for the hypocrites they are. Do you really think that someone like Flynt would just sit by in his wheelchair - thanks to some self-styled crusader with a rifle - and let the hypocrisy of Washington continue to consume only a handful of politicians?

And let’s look at what Flynt has uncovered so far, shall we? Aside from his bogus claims of getting Bob Livingston out of office, the only "hot" evidence is the court transcripts of Bob Barr taking the fifth at his divorce trial. When asked whether or not Barr was sleeping with his then-soon-to-be fourth wife he takes his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Apparently he did the same when asked whether or not he funded that yet-to-be wife’s abortion as well. I didn’t realize using your Fifth Amendment right against possible self-incrimination was a certain conviction. Hardly the "smoking gun" that Flynt had promised. I hope that when Larry brings out more "hot" evidence of hypocrisy, he’ll bring more to the discussion than someone exercising his Constitutional rights.

If anything, Flynt and the GOP essentially made each other what they are today. The moralists needed a physical bogeyman to vent their hatred towards. Flynt needed the publicity to set himself apart from the other adult-oriented publishers. It would be natural, then, for Flynt to feel compelled to deal himself into this mess.

I’m laughing my butt off with every twist that this "L’affair Lewinsky" media orgy has taken. There is a dysfunctional cast of characters that would make any soap opera writer jealous. But the important thing to remember is that not everyone is in this game for the same reasons.

As the case of Larry Flynt proves, this is not a zero-sum game being played where the characters are either on one side or the other. There are several factions playing their hands in this, and the key thing is not to figure out who’s on whose side, because they’re all on their own sides. Rather ask yourself why they’re doing what they’re doing. It’ll spare you some headaches.

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