When Americans grow tired of lies

May 11 2012 - 11:46am

While, in William Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," Mark Antony said that the evil men do lives beyond their deaths, we now also see how quickly mean spirits can be exposed in the wake of the wickedness they have committed. The result is "Hell to tell the captain," as they used to say down South.

In jangled visions of entitlement, former New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and those of President Barack Obama's Secret Service men who pulverized their careers in the Colombian prostitution scandal all showed us something we need to know. They proved they were fools, quickly crushed for their insipid "boys will be boys" beliefs.

But even bigger fish, or sharks, are being fried. Those hot pans are now roasting Rupert Murdoch's sordid media empire, with British lawmakers having come to the conclusion that the billionaire is "unfit" to run a corporation. He was also called one who looked the other way with "willful blindness," a quality too big in our contemporary lives.

That is why those same hot pans are blackening the bottoms of an entire political party -- the GOP -- for lacking the courage to stand up to or argue with the tea-party extremists who propelled so many of them to office in the 2010 midterm elections.

Even some supposedly principled Republicans are hemorrhaging support as the public learns who they really are and what they really want to do. The tea party can call itself whatever it wants and describe its policies however it desires, but what they do is very informative and sometimes quite at odds with its claims.

Take, for example, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the free-falling Irish Catholic pretty boy and radical Republican, dripping draconian porridge for the poor. He offers a wide smile while espousing the dark principles of Ayn Rand, which have made him a favorite candidate to join Mitt Romney on the Republican ticket. Like much of what Romney implies or says, the thought of having Ryan on his own ticket may have come to a very loud, screeching halt.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops took such offense at his budget plan that they wrote him a letter that said, "A just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons."

Apparently assuming that the public is incapable of effectively reading, thinking or even looking at television, Ryan has arrogantly denied his love of Rand and his ordering his congressional staff to read her books -- even though audio of him gushing about her at The Atlas Society makes that an uphill climb. Lawrence O'Donnell loved that cowardly side of Ryan and delighted in playing the congressman's praise of that writer's philosophy. The commentator showed him repeatedly, to make sure that the public saw how bold and bald a lie he was telling.

Ryan's new theme should be a variation on the defense told to young boys in the old days of the corner pool hall, "Are you going to believe what I say I said, or your lying eyes and ears?"

The overall impact of all this is a shot in the arm of optimism, especially important for those who feel obligated to take a dismissive and defeatist stance in the face of the corruption, ethnic hostility and disdain for modern freedom that has become the so-called playbook of the Republican Party. All is not lost just yet. Or even close to being lost.

It is crucial that we keep our faith in the democratic belief that our nation will set itself straight once it has all of the facts and can tell the difference between the truth and pure factoids.

Murdoch may have fallen so far that, some speculate, American holdings like Fox News could come under investigation. It could be fatal and ironic in the best possible way. What we can see as an ironic response to a naturalized citizen whose wealth grew as he treated the American public to every right-wing lie his network could pass off as fact, keeping alive the rabid, drooling mix of hysteria, paranoia and half-truths that became normal in conservative extremes. This began when the John Birch Society was formed while Dwight Eisenhower was president and routinely described him as a communist danger to the nation. Its members didn't like Ike.

At the same time, perhaps the Republican Party will learn what time it is for conservative thinkers with integrity. It is their 1964, the time that Lyndon Johnson chose to stand up to the redneck South and move the country toward a fairness that would, in the long run, strip his Democrats of power in the South.

That took much courage for a man who so loved power, as Robert Caro's "The Passage of Power" shows. But he stood up to the threatening grand dragons, as we all must do again today.

Stanley Crouch can be reached by email at crouch.stanley@gmail.com.

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