GOP doublethink
  by Gene Lyons

Connoisseurs of GOP doublethink have had plenty to chuckle about of late. Consider two recent topics of right-wing bloviation: the Supreme Court's ruling that crippled golfer Casey Martin could compete in PGA tournaments, and the Bush twins' getting busted for underage drinking.

Following Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote an opinion column instead of a legal ruling on the Americans With Disabilities Act, conservative pundits lampooned the 7-2 verdict allowing Martin to ride in a golf cart. They carried on as if the rules of golf had been handed to Moses on a stone tablet and ought to be as sacred and immutable as the Ten Commandments.

Jenna and Barbara's Excellent Adventure, however, called for GOP-style moral relativism. Pundits opined that laws forbidding 18-year-olds to buy liquor are absurdly unfair. Never mind that the Reagan administration forced the states to make the drinking age 21 or lose federal highway funding.

And where were these free thinkers when Texas Gov. George W. Bush signed laws mandating serious jail time for repeat offenders? Leading cheers, that's where. A local pundit got so worked up he combined golfing fundamentalism and boozing situation ethics into one magnificently self-contradictory screed. Maybe living in a dry county affected his judgment.

To me, golf's mostly a waste of good pasture. It barely qualifies as a sport. But Scalia to the contrary, its rules don't prohibit carts any more than baseball rules stipulate how relief pitchers arrive at the mound. If they did, golf would be far less popular.

The PGA makes players walk mainly to enhance their contact with spectators. Every court that heard Casey Martin's case ruled that the PGA's stance was as discriminatory as an employer who refused to make "reasonable accommodation" for people in wheelchairs. Why so many conservatives object to this classic enhancement of a determined individual's right to compete is beyond me.

Come to think of it, the rules of golf don't prohibit margaritas, either. Maybe somebody should inform the Bush twins. A country club bar might not serve them, either, but it's a good bet the club wouldn't call in the law.

Back in my own misspent youth, we did virtually all our underage drinking in frat houses and other private places where nobody ever got carded. If they want to stay off the cover of People magazine and avoid being psychoanalyzed by TV twits, Jenna and Barbara should do likewise.

It's ludicrous for the same Republicans who cheered on Kenneth Starr's federal sex investigation to whine that their privacy's been violated.  Trouble didn't find them, they went out looking for it. The Bush twins don't have to like it, but they're celebrities now, and to borrow a phrase from their daddy's college days, "The whole world is watching."

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