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September 3, 2007

The Foes of ‘Family Values’ Celebrate Larry Craig’s Fall


These are exciting times for those who despise “family values.”


The resignation of men’s room sex-seeker Larry Craig from the U.S. Senate doesn’t really promise the strategic political advantages for Democrats that the media would like to think it does. Idaho is a solid red state, and Craig’s replacement – who will be appointed by Republican Gov. Butch Otter – will quickly become a solid favorite for re-election in 2008.


But if you check around on left-wing blogs, you’ll find the true celebration concerns the achievement of having “nailed another Republican hypocrite” on the question of family values. And this so soon after Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, another supposed family values Republican, was founded to have availed himself of some sort of bizarre escort service.


Let’s do a reality check. What exactly are “family values”? And why do so many on the left have a problem with them? The left-wing site offers evidence that Craig was a family values guy by way of a list of positions that show he opposed abortion, gay marriage and health benefits for gay couples.


This is the sum total of the family values agenda?


Craig’s page on reveals him to have been in favor of school vouchers, school prayer, church-provided social programs and traditional marriage. And he opposed the use of illegal drugs.


Is this the family values agenda? Whatever earns you a solid rating from the Christian Coalition? And if you like to go into public restrooms looking for sex, does ideological consistency compel you to take the opposite positions on all of the above?


If we can go back about 15 years, when someone named Dan Quayle was still on the scene, we will recall that the term “family values” arose in the nation’s vocabulary as an alternative to “government values,” and was used at the time to argue against bureaucrats making decisions about the welfare of kids that were better made by parents.

Choosing your child’s school was one of the primary examples at the time. Another was the notion that a social worker, abortionist or judge should not be deciding on the appropriateness of a 15-year-old’s abortion instead of the girl’s mother and father, and that government policies should put the values of the parents ahead of the values of any other parties.


The idea was called “family values” because it stood for the notion that the values of a family would result in better choices than the values of the government, and at any rate, the government in all but the most extreme cases had no business usurping the rights of families to make decisions in accordance with their own values.


In the years since, “family values” has become a catch phrase – usually used derisively by the left – to refer to any and all conservative social positions. Thus, any time a social conservative gets caught engaging in immoral behavior, it’s high times for his or her liberal tormenters. Whether it’s William Bennett’s gambling, Rush Limbaugh’s drug use, David Vitter’s escort girl or Larry Craig’s men’s room shenanigans, nothing beats a promoter of “family values” who is caught engaging in anything but.


Each time one of these conservative figures takes a fall, the left reveals something about itself in the course of its celebration. It’s much easier, of course, to call someone a hypocrite than to actually attack the values the hypocrite was espousing. If a man stands up for good things, but does bad things, does that prove that the good things he espoused really weren’t so good? Or does it merely prove that most people fall short of the high standards to which we would like to aspire? And if that’s the case, isn’t it better still to aspire to high standards, even if you fall short of them?


Larry Craig stood for the right things and did the wrong things. Those who take pleasure in having “nailed” him for his hypocrisy are most likely relieved because they don’t want to live according to high moral standards – and if there’s one less qualified person to tell them they should, then life without a moral compass becomes that much easier.


This is why hypocrisy is one of the left’s favorite charges. It’s one they never have to deal with. You can’t be a hypocrite if you don’t espouse any moral standards to begin with.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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