Sex and Death
The wages of sin are Me. In general, I get too little credit for my contribution to the Fall of Man. Kids, I was there in the garden; I was a major voice in the conference preceding the Apple Incident; I’ve done most of the grunt work when it comes to postlapsarian retribution. Before you get damned, you generally have to die, right? So it should be no surprise to you, especially if you’ve studied depth psychology, that I pretty much came up with the concept of sex.
Okay, okay… so it was a group effort, sort of like the Manhattan Project; but I like to think that I played the part of Oppenheimer.My basic idea was this: it’s crucial to render man pathetic. If he’s going to look in the mirror (which is what he’s about to do, when the apple gets bitten), then we have to make sure that he doesn’t like what he sees. So let’s give him an essential attribute, something integral and annoying, which causes him to experience self-loathing every time he steps up to the glass for a shave.
Don’t fool yourself: you’re all pathetic. Every last one of you. Leading the monastic life? You’re pathetic, and were driven to it by the recognition of your pathos (if you’re honest) – might want to read a biography of Thomas Merton. Pretending to lead the monastic life? Then you’re doubly pathetic, and I like you a lot.
I’ve long been a big fan of Representative Mark Foley, would-be page-turner. Mark Foley is the essential Republican, to my mind: a man who is the very embodiment of Family Values[tm]; a moral giant in the Party of Death. The essence of Family Values[tm] (the brand-name, that is, which has nothing to do with “family,” or “values”), is brave hypocrisy. The key gesture – the one that my guy Mark mastered with such elan – is to deny that you yourself are wretched, while righteously affirming that everybody around you is contemptible.
Mark’s personal pathos is neither here nor there. I mean, he’s certainly much creepier than Bill Clinton, but he’s not as creepy as, say, Henry Hyde (that family-valuator who used his power and influence to destroy the family of an ordinary, powerless American). Mark’s gay; he’s voracious; he’s an ephebophile. In short, he has a fairly average array of human vices. Worse than some, better than others. Relative to your average rockstar, I suspect Mark is a saint with regard to his relations with teenagers. But, unlike your average rockstar, Mark is a Bush-era Republican.
In case you haven’t attended a Christianist sermon recently: homosexuality, in Mark’s political sphere, is a vice. (Objectively speaking, it’s not, I assure you – we Eternals have far more respect for Achilles, Leonardo, Abraham Lincoln, than we do for the average breeder.) Voracity is not a vice (Strom Thurmond fucked anything that moved, until he ceased moving). But liking those young ‘uns – that cuts right to the heart of Family Values(tm). There is absolutely no reason to believe that Mark is a pedophile; but we do know for certain that he’s after the sixteen-year-olds… I mean, these kids are only a couple of years older than the half-naked models in Vogue! Any younger and they’d be sleeping with professional athletes! And, worse, they’re male - the virtuous sex. Sick sick sick.
So, he certainly has his vices. And when viewed through the pale eye of a professional family-valuator, he has pretty nasty ones. But what I love about him – really, he’s almost my favorite congressman, after Hyde – what I love about him is that (while still in the closet, of course) he proudly crafted laws to render his vices illegal!
The essence of Republicanism is chutzpah, and this man is chutzpah on skis! Not since the spectacle of Henry Hyde fulminating over Monicagate have we had such a sexy example of steaming, bad-ass hypocrisy. Come on, this guy is good!
Or was. Among the many things denounced as vices by the Party of Death, one thing is truly considered a vice, and not just for the purposes of grandstanding. This is something a good Republican deems intolerable, essentially despicable, a moral absolute: Getting Caught.
There’s no Jesuitical dithering when it comes to Getting Caught. No amount of sophistry can redeem this moral failing. Nothing short of rehab can address this character flaw, and even that is considered a sorry and inadequate penance.
The Party of Death, however – until they Get Caught – are the only ones with the balls to insist, loudly, upon human perfection. I love these guys. If Republicans were conservatives (nobody still believes this), then they would have a deep and tragic sense of man’s broken nature. They would acknowledge imperfection – their own imperfection – and would address this fact with humility. I hate conservatives.
If Republicans were liberals, then they would expect imperfection, and respond with honest (if not always effective) efforts to improve things. I hate liberals.
Many have pointed out that Republicans are in certain respects what liberals used to be: historical triumphalists, slaves to economism, etc. But they have much more in common with some of my favorite flavors of historical human: Carlists, Jacobins, Maoists. True believers. Glinty-eyed absolutists. And, crucially, people who deny the essential pathos of the species (at least insofar as it applies to them). Man is perfectible! And, if you look closely, you’ll see that this perfection has already been achieved, by… Republicans.
That a man like Mark Foley can insist upon this – can legislate with this in mind – while simultaneously drenching the internet in torrents of lust – is testimony to the elegance of my scheme.
I invented sex – I invented pathos – so that man could hang himself. It was easy to predict: there would be those so disgusted with their fallen nature that they would revert to complete Denial – they would assert perfection, perfectibility, while composing sweaty Instant Messages to hot boys.
Long before Woodward wrote his book, I consciously made sure that Denial was at the heart of the Party of Death. It does not have to be explicitly sexual – Denial can take many gratifying forms. Tom DeLay lacerates duplicitous Democrats. John Ashcroft stands firm against the assault upon American freedoms. George Bush announces himself a warrior.
I am pleased, however, that the demise of this particular incarnation of the Republican Party is so strongly and transparently linked to sex. Part of my grim job is to drive home basic theological principles. You’ve decided that your brand of human is unimpeachable? Consider this Damnation 101. If George Bush were a Christian, he would understand.