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Getting It

by Jean Hay
May 2000

I've been putting a few things together lately:

First, there's Elian, the alien's alien. How could the Congressional Republicans, for so long self-promoted as the so-called pro-family party, along with their Compassionate Conservative Fearless Shrub, be so anti-family in insisting that Elian should not be returned to his father? Are they still living in a world where only women raise the children, while the men go out and earn the living, so why would Dad Juan want his son back anyway? If he connects with his son other than through the back of his hand, he must be a wimp, and you know what that means.

And then I read Steve Campbell's political column in the Maine Sunday Telegram. In it he explained the mini-platform the Maine Republican Party is trying to promote in the interest of over-simplification of all those complicated things called "issues" that no Republican candidate in his right mind wants to talk about.

Second on the list in the Republican mini-platform is the concept of supporting "the value of the American family."

There you have it. Republicans think that only American families need to be valued. Elian's family is Cuban. Let them all rot in hell before we give him back his boy. What was Janet Reno thinking? But then, she's a Democrat.

Congressman Tom DeLay, House Majority Whip, was the guest speaker at the National Press Club in Washington the other day. I heard the speech broadcast on Public Radio.

Congressman DeLay was lamenting the court decisions of recent years which have resulted, in his estimation, in the unfortunate demise of religion in our public schools and institutions, where, he insisted, 96 percent of Americans know it really belongs. He threw out other remarkable statistics, ones which he claimed showed that the people who make the movies and TV shows are by and large godless or at least heathens. Yet these are the people, he said, who are the ones who are shaping the values in our culture today.

His conclusion? Put religion back into our schools and government. After all, the First Amendment to our Constitution guarantees "the free exercise" of religion, the forgotten phrase, he contended, of the "government shall establish no religion" standard. Totally ignoring the flight of the Pilgrims from religious persecution for not abiding by the national religion of their day, he insisted that our founding fathers did not really mean to segregate God from government with that phrasing.

At a time when our country's religious diversity is blossoming in all directions, Tom Delay would have us establish a government religion at government expense. Sort of like the Christian version of what the Muslim Taliban have established in Afganistan, where the government has declared that no women can work, none can go to school, and none can even leave their own homes to shop or seek medical care unless accompanied by a male relative. And even then they must be covered head to toe in black clothing lest they incite the lusts of God-fearing men in the streets.

What struck me is that DeLay was not upset about values and morals not being taught in our schools. He was just concerned that HIS fundamentalist values and morals were not being taught. And he wanted your tax dollars and mine to rectify that situation.

By the way, DeLay's speech to the National Press Club occurred on the same day a news story broke about a civil anti-racketeering court suit that had been filed against him. According to an Associated Press story, the suit was filed by House Democrats and alleges that DeLay heads an organization "that extorts campaign contributions and evades federal disclosure requirements."

What will these moral custodians think of next?

And speaking of campaign contributions and what they buy, we had the sad lament of political operative Greg Stevens crying in his beer to Bangor Daily News political columnist John Day. Even Day thought it was remarkable that Stevens "confessed" to him that money in politics "really has gotten out of hand," and duly reported it in an April column.

In establishing Stevens credentials, Day mentions the Maine-born man had worked for both Bill Cohen and Olympia Snowe, and was the one who wrote the devastating commercial in 1988 that included a silly scene with Democratic Presidential Candidate Michael Dukakis riding in a tank.

What Day did not mention in his April column, however, that this was the same man who was fired from a U.S. Senate campaign in Virginia after his company ran an ad with a doctored photo in which the opponent's head had been superimposed on the body of a man shaking hands with an unpopular politician. This little incident happened while Stevens was doing media for Susan Collins in Maine's 1996 U.S. Senate race. Yet Collins stood by her man, and refused to fire the unscrupulous trickster. Day reported in one of his columns in the closing days of that 1996 campaign that Collins had sweated out the bad publicity quite well.

So why did Greg Stevens think money in politics had it gotten out of hand? Day reported that Stevens didn't like the way "candidates" (read the Bush conglomerate) had set up phone banks right before the South Carolina primary and conducted push polls alleging McCain had fathered illegitimate children and that his wife was a drug addict.

That dirty-pool technique is a familiar one to Day. In fact, in that 1996 Senate race, the Bangor Daily News conducted a push poll, asking likely voters if they would think better or worse of a candidate who had hired a private investigator to do research on an opponent. This poll was conducted following a series of scathing -- and untrue -- articles by John Day and others at the Bangor Daily News which alleged that Democratic candidate Joe Brennan had hired a "private investigator" with a "checkered past" to "shadow" Susan Collins. We know the push-polling happened because BDN reporter A. J. Higgins dutifully reported on the poll results.

Three years after Collins won that race, the Bangor Daily News was successfully sued by Robert Norris, the political consultant it had defamed, paying through the nose with a sizeable out-of-court settlement.

Stevens was also displeased, Day reported this spring, because some rich supporters of George W. Bush had pulled $2.5 million out of their pockets to air ads attacking Stevens' latest client, John McCain. The ploy worked, McCain lost too many primaries, and Stevens lost a lucrative client.

So it would seem that the way money has gotten out of hand, in Stevens' world, is that the Bush camp had more of it than his guy. Therefore, Bush and his supporters could do all those nasty things that the consultants for the "Straight Talk Express" (Stevens Reed Curcio and Company) knew how to do so well but wouldn't get paid enough to do if they did it.

On a count of three: Aaaaaawwwww!!!!

A long-time political columnist in these pages, Jean Hay of Dixmont was a state senate candidate in District 10, which includes 17 towns in Penobscot and Somerset counties, when this article was published.

The Breaking of a Candidate An Analysis

Did unfair and inaccurate reporting by one monopoly newspaper in Maine
alter the results of the 1996 U.S. Senate race? ----August 26, 1997

Will the Fourth Estate Take the Fifth? In the relationship between politics and the media, two recent staff-generated opinions in the Bangor Daily News, along with a fresh libel suit against that paper over its coverage of the 1996 US Senate race, were nothing short of remarkable. ----October 1998
Libel, the Untold Story What the Bangor Daily News didn't want you to know about the political libel case it settled out of court. ----Nov/Dec 1999

Don't Miss
The Story the Bangor Daily News Doesn't Want You to Read,

The Remarkable Op-Ed Piece written by Robert Norris, that the Bangor Daily News published as part of its court settlement. (Reprinted here with permission of the author)----October 23-24, 1999

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