Have you ever wondered why, in conservative eyes, Rush Limbaugh is not a junkie, and Bill Bennett doesn't have a gambling problem, and Newt Gingrich's marital betrayals bore not even the faintest resemblance to Bill Clinton's?
This narrative of depravity and rebirth is so common on the right that it's almost a badge of honor. Think of George W. Bush's alcoholic past, or of Gannon/Guckert's prostitution. What many on the left see as hypocrisy, many on the right see as redemption stories. I was depraved; then I was saved. Just put your misdeeds into that narrative, and boom, all is forgiven....
Furthermore, underlying that narrative is a stark idea, and one that is key to understanding the modern right. The idea is that there are really only two alternatives: Absolute Truth or Absolute Chaos. When people on the far right look at other people, they see lost souls, descending into moral iniquity and dragging the world down with them. . . .
The idea that most people, on the whole, might have something on the inside that regulates their behavior -- an actual internal conscience, or set of standards, or just inherent decency -- is not part of the right's worldview. They believe that human beings are inherently depraved, vile, and evil, and that only a strong set of unchanging, external rules will prevent everything from going to hell....
The other two contributors are Lance Mannion and Shakespeare's Sister. (Go to CSD for the links.) CommonSenseDesk concludes:
The entire discussion is very thoughtful and makes a great deal of sense. If the theory holds it explains the remarkable ability of those on the right to ignore the reality of their own immoral, illegal or unethical behavior in the face of demonstrable evidence of that behavior.
(H/T: The Mighty Middle.)