Sunday, January 15, 2006
Laura Bush, Please Just Shut Up
It's supposed to be beyond the pale to criticize First Lady Laura Bush, because she's only a private person, never mind her frequent appearances representing the White House or supporting government programs and Bush policies. But every time she opens her mouth, what comes out is so appallingly ignorant that she desperately needs to be told to just shut up. Yesterday she outdid herself parroting White House talking points, saying things that are not merely banal but totally at odds with reality. She defended her husband's lawbreaking in the matter of warrantless surveillance:
"I think he was worried that it would undermine our efforts by alerting terrorists to what our efforts are," she said.And exactly how, Mrs. Bush, would requesting a warrant before or after beginning the surveillance "alert the terrorists to what our efforts are"? Does your husband think that somebody on the top-secret FISA court would tell Osama that a warrant had been requested? She also defended the "ignorance is education" approach to sex education:
"I really have always been a little bit irritated by criticism of abstinence because abstinence is absolutely, 100 percent effective in fighting a sexually transmittable disease. When girls are not empowered, girls are vulnerable, and their chances of being able to negotiate their sexual life with their partners and to make their partner chose a condom are very low."The criticism is not aimed at abstinence. The criticism is aimed at depriving girls and boys of information about other choices, like responsible use of birth control. Teaching them only one option is not empowering them; being unable to make informed choices is being powerless, not empowered. And oh by the way, abstinence may be 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and disease, but teaching abstinence is notable for its ineffectiveness in preventing teens over the long run from committing actions that results in pregnancy or disease. Check the statistics, Laura, I'm not just making these things up. I blame Laura Bush for these absurd pronouncements less than I blame the snooze media for asking the questions that elicited these answers. They ask her about policies and issues, and report her answers as if they mean something — worse, as if they're supposed to make us feel better about her husband being in the White House — at the same time that they go along with the charade that she's the anti-Hillary, all loyal wife and not a bit of politics about her. If it weren't for hypocrisy, these people would have no values at all.
It fails because young people are only human, as we all are, and any effort to control the inevitable always fails.
My god. It's as if the proponents of "abstinence" wished to have absolutely no control over the making of a family with children.
As for right-wing values, MEC is ungenerous in limiting them to hypocrisy. Don't forget selfishnes, arrogance, indifference to life, dishonesty, willful ignorance... surely there are many more.
These are not sins, as far as the right is concerned. Selfishness is celebrated as the basis of markets. Arrogance is lauded as patriotism. Indifference to life is revered as "being tough." Dishonesty is valued as salesmanship. And willful ignorance? It is the rags in which the remainder is wrapped.
It's not abstinence that fails. It's telling teenagers to be abstinent that utterly fails to prevent teenagers from having sex. What it does, I suspect, is cause teenagers to make excuses for having sex, which makes the sex harmful where it need not have been. I suspect, further, that it may make the teenagers likelier to have sex because the emotional conflict between "must not" and "want to" prevents them from thinking rationally about the "want to" and making a conscious decision about whether it's a good idea or bad.
"It's as if the proponents of "abstinence" wished to have absolutely no control over the making of a family with children."
I also suspect that they don't really give a rat's ass about preventing pregnancy, or for that matter disease. What they want is for sinners not to escape the punishment for their sin. I still remember a letter to the editor some 30 years ago that described abortion in just those terms -- allowing sinners to escape the punishment for sin. Defining a baby as "punishment for sin" is not something I'd do, but maybe that's just me.
More blogs about politics.