What is it about us conservatives that turns Hollywood liberals mean? Perhaps we could ask George Clooney, who just set a sickening new low for nastiness in a personal attack on Charlton Heston.
In New York last week to accept an industry award, Clooney joked "Charlton Heston announced again today that he is suffering from Alzheimer's." This was calculated to bring maximum chuckles from the assembled glitterati, several of whom have gone for the jugulars of various conservatives. We are dazzled by all that glamour and talent, but after that it's all downhill. The illusion fades as soon as they open their mouths, often revealing a bone-deep ugliness.
Interviewed in Long Island's Newsday.com this week, Clooney was challenged for going too far. His response says it all: "I don't care. Charlton Heston is the head of the National Rifle Association; he deserves whatever anyone says about him." There it is, the childlike cruelty of the showbiz liberal. He hates guns and fears people who own them. Therefore, their leader deserves to suffer from a terrible disease, no matter how noble his life, or what a gentleman he was and still is.
Could George Clooney, now at the top of his game, wealthy and desired by many, possibly understand how utterly inhumane his remarks were? Does he know how Alzheimer's disease incrementally deletes the memories and personalities of its sufferers, slowly erasing all that makes a person who he is? Can Clooney grasp that his good looks and what acting talent he has will, barring untimely death, also gradually fade as he goes into that good night? In short, does he have a flicker of empathy, a glimmer of human concern for those less fortunate than he, to say nothing of those who don't share his political views?
Another celebrity basher of conservatives is the mercurial Rosie O'Donnell, well known for luring Tom Selleck on her TV show to promote his latest movie. Instead, the NRA-hating host ambushed Selleck as an NRA spokesman, which he denied. O'Donnell brushed off his polite attempts to placate her, repeatedly attacking him for daring to support responsible gun ownership. Selleck accused her of questioning his humanity, and he read her intent correctly. It's not enough for Hollywood lefties to disagree; they feel obliged to hurt.
And then there's Julia Roberts's quip about finding the word Republican in the dictionary "just after reptile and just above repugnant." She didn't have much to say about why she hated Republicans, being more leggy and toothy than brainy. Just expressing those not-so-pretty feelings is all that's required of the glamorous.
Logically enough, Roberts fired off this little bit of nastiness at a benefit for Al Gore just before he lost the 2000 election. Did she take a cue from Gore himself, who broke new ground in his famous 1994 reference to the "extra chromosome right wing"? Whether he meant to or not, Gore heartlessly insulted every boy and girl with the chromosomal error trisomy 21, better known as Down syndrome. Run that past the families of about 350,000 American kids and young adults with Down syndrome, and it's not cute; it's just heartless.
Now, politics gets a little indecorous at times, and even conservatives can go over the line. But most conservatives are satisfied with a thoughtfully scornful phrase. They don't feel the liberal compulsion to inflict personal pain as a statement of political belief. Republican vice president Spiro Agnew's jibes at liberals come to mind. Who couldn't laugh at "an effete corps of impudent snobs" or "nattering nabobs of negativism"?
The shenanigans of Clooney, Roberts, and O'Donnell play well at entertainment industry dinners and Democratic fundraisers. But the ratings are not so good everywhere else. The vast swath of red counties on the 2000 electoral map is where the celebrity blood sport of trashing conservatives doesn't work. Personal attacks on our political opponents are quite simply not consistent with conservative values. This is doubtless related to the current ascendancy of the party of conservatives and the simultaneous poverty of unifying moral force on the left.
George Clooney is lucky that his character defect is curable. The best prescription is a large and purgative dose of humility. A very public apology to Charlton Heston and his family would be a good first step on the road to redemption.