News & Politics

The Glass Houses of Right-Wing Moralists

Money seems to be the most common moral corrupter of those on the far right who so loudly profess to be America's arbiters of proper behavior.
Right-wing politicos and pundits are always huffing and puffing at us about moral values – but, wait, what's that sticking out of their coat pockets?


Why, it's money. Aside from Rush Limbaugh's drug scandal, Newt Gingrich's extramarital affairs, and William Bennett's gambling problem, money seems to be the most common moral corrupter of those on the far right who so loudly profess to be America's arbiters of proper behavior.


The latest example is Armstrong Williams, an ultra-conservative commentator who regularly wails about the moral lapses of others. It turns out that this rock thrower lives in a glass house – he pocketed a cool quarter of a million bucks from a secret contract with the Bush administration to shill for George W.'s "No Child Left Behind" education scheme.


In exchange for taking taxpayer's money, Williams agreed to use his radio/TV show and his newspaper columns to tout the "No Child" law, to run promotional spots featuring Bush's education secretary, and to try to get other African-American journalists to join him in ballyhooing Bush's educational achievements – all in 2004, which just happened to be an election year.


Williams is only quasi-contrite, saying: "There's a thin line ... and I think I crossed it." The line is not thin at all, Mr. Williams – you knowingly took taxpayer funds to do political propaganda. Imagine the explosion of moral indignation from Williams and other right-wing blowhards if, say, Bill Clinton had funneled education money to a liberal commentator.


Apparently, Williams got his ethical schooling from Clarence Thomas, for whom he used to work. This Supreme Court justice, another ultra-right-wing "moralist," has been discovered to be tucking a windfall of valuable freebies under his judicial robes, including a $1,200 set of tires, a $19,000 Bible, and a $5,000 check to pay for a relative's education expenses.


Our children are supposed to take moral guidance from these guys?
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush, from Viking Press. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.