Monday, December 21, 2009

The Wall Street Journal: When In Doubt, Lie

Peggy Noonan has an impeccable resume. She's written eight books on religion and morality, served as special assistant to Ronald Reagan, and now writes for numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal. When she writes, people listen.

What does Peggy think is the greatest threat facing America today? Take a wild guess:

(1) The economy
(2) Global warming
(3) Terrorism
(4) Adam Lambert

Well, it sounded hard before I wrote it down.

Peggy invents something called "The Adam Lambert Problem." And it's not what you'd think it is: putting on mascara while wearing a bondage jacket.

Sure, Americans are worried about long-term debt and endless deficits. We're worried about taxes and the burden we're bequeathing to our children, and their children.

But we are concerned about other things, too, and there are often signs in various polls that those things may dwarf economic concerns. Americans are worried about the core and character of the American nation, and about our culture.

I must know a ton of homeless people whose primary complaint is that clerks in stores today say "No problem!" instead of "You're welcome."

It is one thing to grouse that dreadful people who don't care about us control our economy, but another, and in a way more personal, thing to say that people who don't care about us control our culture. In 2009 this was perhaps most vividly expressed in the Adam Lambert Problem.

Sadly, Peggy didn't initiate a series a few years back:

2008: The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney Problem
2007: The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney Problem
2006: The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney Problem
2005: The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney Problem
2004: The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney Problem
2003: The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney Problem
2002: The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney Problem
2001: The George W. Bush/Dick Cheney Problem

[T]he big broadcast networks are for everyone. . . . The whole family's watching. Higher, stricter standards must maintain. . . . This was behind the resentment at the Adam Lambert incident on ABC in November. The compromise was breached. It was a broadcast network, it was prime time, it was the American Music Awards featuring singers your 11-year-old wants to see, and your 8-year-old. And Mr. Lambert came on and -- again, in front of your children, in the living room, in the middle of your peaceful evening -- uncorked an act in which he . . . performed "faux oral sex" featuring "S&M play," "bondage gear," "same-sex makeouts" and "walking a man and woman around the stage on a leash."

The Adam Lambert Problem fades next to the Peggy Noonan one: lying. Since when is 10:55 p.m. "prime time"? And unless that 8-year-old is still partying at 3 a.m., it's not the "middle" of her evening.

People were offended, and they complained. Mr. Lambert seemed surprised and puzzled. With an idiot's logic that was nonetheless logic, he suggested he was the focus of bigotry: They let women act perverse on TV all the time, so why can't a gay man do it? Fifteen hundred callers didn't see it as he did and complained to ABC, which was negligent but in the end responsive: They changed the West Coast feed and apparently kept Mr. Lambert off "Good Morning America."

"Apparently"? What, did you run to the bathroom while it was on and suspect that secretly he might have turned up? That, class, is how the right wing uses bullshit words when they don't have actual arguments.

Needless to say, Ms. Noonan doesn't address Mr. Lambert's question, and doesn't explain why it took a gay male to get her to write this up. As for idiot's logic, I don't see how people complaining affects a fact. I know half a million women who hate gravity but my furniture hasn't started flying yet.

Mr. Lambert's act left viewers feeling not just offended but assaulted. Again, "we don't care what you do in New York," but don't include us in it, don't bring it into our homes. Our children are here.

And you can't stop them from watching a music awards program at eleven at night? See if you can convince them to tune into Super Nanny for a week or two.

[I]ncreasingly people feel at the mercy of the Adam Lamberts, who of course view themselves, when criticized, as victims of prudery and closed-mindedness. America is not prudish or closed-minded, it is exhausted. It cannot be exaggerated, how much Americans feel besieged by the culture of their own country, and to what lengths they have to go to protect their children from it.

Why, sometimes they have to reach over to the remote and actually hit a button.

And "the" Adam Lamberts? How many, exactly, have there been? On the other hand, I can name eighty Pinks.

It's things like this, every bit as much as taxes and spending, that leave people feeling jarred and dismayed, and worried about the future of their country. . . . I'd like to see a poll on this. Yes or no: Have we become a more vulgar country? . . . Do you sense, as you look around you, that each year we have less or more of the glue that holds a great nation together?

Do you think our government torturing people who weren't convicted of any crime played a part in this?

Is there something called the American Character, and do you think it has, the past half-century, improved or degenerated?

If the latter, do you think George W. and his cronies make Adam Lambert look Bush league?

Do you think standards of public behavior are rising or falling?

Did Ronald and Nancy Reagan's daughter being born exactly 7 1/2 months after their wedding affect this opinion at all?

So much always roils us in America, and so much always will. But maybe as 2010 begins and the '00s recede, we should think more about the noneconomic issues that leave us uneasy, and that need our attention. Not everything in America comes down to money.

Okay, babe. You convinced me.

Let's talk about marriage, and equal rights.


Yet Another Steve said...

Oh gee thanks, I just had to go to the WSJ website, register, and waste an hour joining in the rants about that stupid article. Dammit.

Luke_Sydney said...

One of your best. I really don't get your country.

David said...

You really have a knack for this.