Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Code Words

As Red State Rabble was noodling along I-435 this afternoon, we heard Fresh Air host Terry Gross interview Bill Maher, host of HBO's Real Time With Bill Maher, and author of a new book, New Rules: Polite Musings of a Timid Observer.

The subject of President Bush's endorsement of intelligent design came up.

In the interest of preventing a massive pile up on the interstate, RSR refrained from writing what Maher said about ID on the back of an envelope that was lying on the floorboards under a mound of trash, but we think we can paraphrase his words quite closely, nonetheless.

Here goes:

Maher said he doesn't hate America -- as those on the right sometimes claim -- but he is embarrassed by her leaders from time to time. One of the things that embarrassed him recently was the president's endorsement of intelligent design, which he called a code word for creationism.

Republicans wouldn't be Republicans, Maher said, if they didn't use code words.

That, we think, is an interesting observation that hasn't received enough attention here, or anywhere else for that matter.

While it is true that some proponents of intelligent design are utterly sincere -- we're convinced there are at least six of them in North America -- there are many others who see it as just the vehicle -- a Hummer, perhaps -- to drive through the front doors of your local high school in order to put creationism into the public school curriculum.

And those are the good guys.

There are some more Machiavellian types -- Karl Rove comes to mind -- who see both intelligent design and creationism as the ideal blunt instrument. The perfect accessory for the well-dressed culture warrior.

And for them, the culture wars have little to do with abortion, gay rights, public education, and the Ten Commandments. For them, the culture wars have everything to do raising money to elect politicians who will maintain the system of crony capitalism that came to power with the Bush family. Their job, as they see it, is the sale of the people's government to the corporate class. All prices have been marked down. No reasonable offer will be refused. Everything must go.

As Maher also observed, lobbyists have now become the fourth branch of government.

In this context, intelligent design can proudly take its place next to States Rights, Southern Strategy, Defense of Marriage, Activist Judge, and Family Values as the double talk that now dominates our political life.

The supreme irony of our current situation -- which we are convinced will become the hallmark of our era when historians look back from the future -- is that those who run the government now, those who say they are for traditional values and old fashioned morality, are presiding over the most corrupt era of American political life. The robber barons that came to power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries never had it this good.


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