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Right Field

Morally Superior

By Russ Smith | Posted 8/3/2005

Sen. Hillary Clinton has every conceivable advantage over competitors for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination—money, name recognition, gender, and advice from her husband, the last man in her party to win successive White House terms since FDR—yet she can’t help insulting Americans with transparent efforts to seduce a segment of the population whose vote is based on “moral” issues.

Earlier in the year, Clinton made the unconvincing argument, dutifully reported in the media, that she’s a “moderate” on abortion, pleading that the procedure be as “rare” as possible. How that position, whether one of conviction or not, would wash with pro-lifers who see no middle ground in the ongoing controversy is a mystery to me. If Clinton can’t even condemn partial-birth abortion, much less third trimester terminations, how can she expect support from people who’ll likely have a pro-life Republican to choose instead?

Last month, the fundraising-in-motion New York senator condescended even further in a pitch to woo voters who aren’t part of the unshakable Democratic base by making a stink over the revelation that the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has an interactive sex scene that can be accessed by skilled players. Clinton, assuming the role of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) as the nation’s 21st-century Carrie Nation (while accepting massive donations from the predominantly liberal entertainment industry), sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission July 14 asking its members to investigate the naughty bits in Grand Theft Auto. She said, “Parents who rely on the ratings to make decisions to shield their children from influences that they believe could be harmful should be informed right away if the [ratings] system is broken.”

As New York Times reporter Raymond Hernandez noted on July 14, “Politically, Mrs. Clinton’s decision to wade into the controversy over Grand Theft Auto is noteworthy. She singled out the game when many Democrats were trying to figure out ways their party can match Republicans on the issue of family values.” The Times unabashedly touts Clinton, which makes Hernandez’s understated dig at her political motives a demonstration of just how silly this “controversy” is.

It’s doubtful that Clinton could tell GTA from a mild game like Nintendo’s Super Mario Sunshine, but that hasn’t stopped her from attempting to score cheap points with parents who are appalled by a pastime that didn’t exist in their youth. My 12-year-old son, who’s been gaming since he was in pre-school, is predictably disgusted by the attention Clinton and her “family values” confederates are receiving. As he explained it to me, it’s not easy to find the GTA sex scene (in which the characters are fully clothed), but rather takes a few hours of combing through “cheat devices” found on the internet. As others have said, if anyone is determined enough to open the “secret” of GTA, how long would it take to click on a hard-core porn web site?

I wonder when Clinton appears on a Sunday morning show like Meet the Press if she’s offended by the Cialis commercials during the breaks that warn consumers of the possibility that the drug-enhanced erections might last hours longer than desired. Where is her outrage over TV series like HBO’s The Sopranos, Deadwood, and Sex and the City? Or FX’s The Shield and Rescue Me? And why doesn’t she slam the entire television world for its prurient coverage of murder trials or, more disturbingly, the constant loop of the World Trade Center crumbling on Sept. 11?

I’d rather have my kids fiddle around with fantasy video games than relive the real-life terrorism of that day.

All this fuss over current forms of entertainment that most adults don’t understand is nothing new. Protests by the media and politicians over Elvis Presley’s “lewd” gyrations, the Beatles’ long hair, the emergence of magazines like Playboy, Lenny Bruce’s stand-up comedy, and movies like A Clockwork Orange (which received an X rating in 1971) seem quaint now.

Parents don’t need meddlesome and opportunistic politicians like Hillary Clinton to decide what their kids can watch or play. It’s a cheap ploy, as a July 24 Los Angeles Times article pointed out: “[Grand Theft Auto] also prompted a fresh round of indignation in Washington, where the video game industry has replaced the tobacco industry as the easiest target in town.”

Clarification: In last week’s Right Field I criticized The Sun for not publishing the results of a poll by Rasmussen Reports (which showed Martin O’Malley trailing Doug Duncan as a gubernatorial candidate against Robert Ehrlich). As it happened, the daily’s David Nitkin did note the poll on July 26, a day after my column was written, edited, and shipped to the printer.

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