Mrs. Betty Bowers' Words of Christian Concern for Ted Haggard's Delicious Disgrace

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Delighted Snickers:

I suspect that this will be a rather uncomfortable weekend at the Ted Haggard tax-free mansion. You see, Reverend Haggard is a vociferous spokesperson against gay marriage and, until yesterday, his wife probably had no idea she was actually in one.

Oh, I can hear some of you gals used to being around florists and Governors of New Jersey -- and Texas -- cackling.  You think I'm selling the woman's intuition for pushily obvious queenery short.  But if Haggard's unblinking congregation could sit and listen to such a liturgical Liberace week after week and not realize they were in the presence of someone who makes Barry Manilow in a full-length mink look butch, they really need to recalibrate their ability to detect prescription-strength doses of flamboyance.  Because if you can't tell that Haggard is not just gay, but marabou mules wearing gay, you must have bought your refurbished Gaydar at the same kiosk Tom Cruise got his E-meter.

But before everyone piles on with protestations of shock and awe, allow me to pause for praise where it is due for this man Harper’s claimed to hold more sway over the political direction of evangelicalism than any pastor in America.  It is quite clear that Ted Haggard is a man with admirable devotion to the Christian/GOP cause.  After all, it must take enormous willpower for a meth-crazed sodomite to remove a penis from his mouth long enough to denounce homosexuality.

Haggard famously claimed that "the only difference between me and George Bush is that Bush drives a Ford and I drive a Chevy." And from what I can tell, this may be the only honest thing the man has said.  Let's compare, shall we? 

Against gay marriage? 

Check. 

Fondness for sniffing illegal white powder? 

Check. 

Association with gay male prostitutes? 

Jeff Gannon meet Mike Jones.   

But I guess it is no more difficult to be a homosexual who purports to dislike homosexuality than it is to be a strike-first warmonger who purports to follow the Prince of Peace.  Indeed, if only lying were a car, instead of a way of approaching the world, maybe one of them would have finally traded it in for something else by now.

But Mr. Haggard shows no more knack for honesty than he does for picking discreet prostitutes.  As an evangelical preacher, he is clearly too used to getting up in front of people who believe anything he says to lie convincingly to those still fettered by thought. Indeed, his lying skills are so uproariously amateurish that, frankly, I think he needs some lessons from a pro like Dick Cheney, a man who can say, "I'm not currently saying this" and mean it. 

For example, Haggard claims he visited the man he previously had never met simply to get a "massage."  The chaste, innocent purpose of this endeavor must explain why he used a pseudonym.  (As Marge Davis asked, "Well what is it that they are massaging is what I want to know!").  

Haggard is also claiming that he purchased a "first time customers only" introductory sample of crystal meth (meth dealers are notorious for their promotions).  But threw it away.  This must be our GOP version of the implausibility of "not inhaling," but, in typical Republican fashion, seems rather more blatantly wasteful.  Did he not think of the consequences of this lie?  Why, poor Nicole Richie is probably combing the side of every road out of Denver for that tiny baggie as I type this.  But the talent-free waif searches in vain.  Anyone who listens to Haggard's insistent voice messages can tell that this was someone jonesing for a fix, not a mildly curious man given to impromptu middle-age hard-drug experimentation like another 50 year-old might finally try a Mojito.  Listen to the recordings: we're talking "Lindsay Lohan down to her last kilo" desperate here. 

It's become almost an axiom of American unctuousness that the more preening the public scold, the more inevitable the public scald. A public paradigm usually has a private paramour.  Once pompous glutton William Bennett set himself up as an arbitrator of our virtues, it was only a matter of time before the arbitrariness of his own virtues was laid out like a losing twosome in blackjack.  

While this type of cynical scorn of one's own words might strike the naïve as galling, there has always been a disconnect between private men and their public protestations.  But for the miracle of vote tampering and activist Supreme Court judges, evangelicals would have been as essential to Mr. Bush's election as they like to assume. And every pandering appearance near a cross or coded reference to scripture stuck like a clumsy, phosphorescent Post-It into a State of the Union address reminds us that the President is keenly aware of this perceived debt.  But David Kuo, in his book Tempting Fate, tells us that such overt supplication is done with patronizing perfunctoriness.  Evangelicals are actually mocked behind their backs at the White House. 

The White House might have found this revelation embarrassing if people like Haggard didn't routinely prove that Evangelicals don't take anything they say seriously either.  Jim Bakker got caught with his secretary while she still had her own breasts.  Jimmy Swaggart got caught in a motel on a urine-stained mattress littered with unsavory streetwalkers.  And Paul Crouch had to pay off his gay lover. (Mr. Crouch, appears to have been forgiven, if only because even those most strongly against homosexuality understand the urge to look for sexual outlets that don't involve Jan Crouch being naked.)

Mark Foley campaigned against legalizing gay marriage. Almost inevitably, we then find out that this was probably only because he would never tie the knot with someone old enough to legally marry.  Haggard, perhaps in response to how Foley's crude, after-the-fact attempts to link his unacceptable homosexual indiscretion to a perfectly acceptable addiction, was rather smart to have a sex scandal prepackaged with an even better addiction.  Well played!

Not to be outdone, Republican candidate for Florida Governor, Attorney General Charlie Crist, much like Ted Haggard, has not allowed his actual participation in homosexuality to get in the way of speaking out against the idea of homosexuality.  And, frankly, I'm not sure what more readily impugns his boyfriend Bruce Carlton Jordan's character: being a convicted thief or working for that crazy sex kitten Katherine Harris. But what can you expect from the state that gave us not only the odious Miss Harris but also aquamarine appliances? 

While Jesus was appallingly lax in neglecting to mention His disgust with homosexuality, He did take Republicans (for some reason, called Pharisees back then) to task for being hypocrites.  As any modern Republican can tell you, Jesus, of course, had it all backwards.  Homosexuality is to be despised.  And lying (even about despising homosexuality) it just a quirk, something you tell people to get their money or vote. Ask Ted Haggard's best buddy James Dobson.

Oh, my! Betty's new book "Welcome to Jesusland!" is out!

CLICK HERE

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