For once, scandal leaves conservatives outraged

Mike Royko

April 22, 1991|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

MY CONSERVATIVE friend Grump was peering in the window of the bookstore, where the best sellers are displayed. His scowl was even stormier than usual.

He suddenly gripped his walking stick like a baseball bat and raised it above his head.

I asked him what he intended to do.

"I'm thinking of smashing this window," he shouted.

That's against the law, and you have always been a law-and-order man.

"True," he said, lowering the stick. "But something should be done. This is slanderous, scurrilous, outrageous and perfidious."

I assume that you're referring to the new and shocking and wildly popular book by Kitty Kelley.

"Don't even mention that vile creature's name in my presence. A shameless keyhole peeper, transom snooper, rumor monger, spreader of malicious lies, contortions and distortions. She is a disgrace to the profession of journalism."

But you've always said every journalist is a disgrace.

"True, but she's even more disgraceful than the rest of you. She should be tried for treason for writing smutty lies about my commander in chief and our first lady."

He's no longer your commander and chief. Besides, how do you know they were smutty lies? Maybe it's the smutty truth. Even in the best of families, smutty things can happen.

"Doesn't matter. Even if it were the truth -- which I consider unthinkable and incomprehensible -- such matters are best left in the laundry hamper where they belong. It is unconscionable to muck about the private lives of this nation's most beloved public figures."

You may be right. On the other hand, I recall your uninhibited glee when disclosures were made about the enthusiastic bedroom habits of Jack Kennedy. In fact,you smacked your lips over every nasty tidbit about the entire Kennedy clan, and you still do.

"That's not true. I never said one critical word about the eldest brother who died in the war. Of course, if he had lived, he would have surely been a rogue too. That's the way those people are."

Yes, but you sneer and leer about the Jack Kennedy stories.

"And why not? The man was an utter cad. The public had a right to know that he was no gentleman. Imagine, carrying on that way in the White House itself. With the taxpayers paying for the bedsheets. Shocking."

Well, Kitty Kelley says that Frank Sinatra regularly slipped in through the back entrance of the White House and spent long, private afternoons with . . .

"Don't finish that sentence, I warn you. I'm prepared to use force to defend the honor of the first lady."

Former first lady. All right, I won't go into the juicy stuff about Sinatra. About how it is supposed to have started years ago in California.

"You are walking a thin, dangerous line."

Then let me remind you of your absolute delight and hilarity when embarrassing disclosures were made about the late Martin Luther King Jr.

"That's an entirely different matter. Why, the man was a hypocrite. A minister, mind you, a man of the cloth, preaching about goodness and the Ten Commandments. Yet he indulged in sinful hanky-panky. And remember, that was not revealed by some trashy journalist. It was leaked from the private, official, secret files of the beloved J. Edgar Hoover himself. Of course, I wasn't surprised about King's behavior and hypocrisy. That's the way those people are too."

Well, speaking of hypocrisy, one might argue that when the nation's first couple talks to the nation about about family values, goodness and virtue, and then it is alleged that both of them, at one time or another, engaged in . . .

"Don't say it. I warn you again, I am capable of taking action to defend their good names. Of course, I know what this is all about. It is nothing but a media plot."

That isn't what you said when Gary Hart's indiscretions were made public. As I recall, you said that when reporters spied on Hart, ruining his presidential hopes, it was the media's finest hour.

"And it was. The man was a notorious womanizer. Would we want someone with that background in the White House?"

But Kitty Kelley says that in his Hollywood days, Ronny was one of the most notorious . . .

"You should both be tried for treason."

Wait, I'm not saying it's a big deal. But if we're going to know about Democrats such as Hart and Kennedy and even FDR, why not make keyhole peeping a bipartisan activity?

"It doesn't matter. People aren't going to believe this trashy book anyway."

You're probably right. It's only going to sell at least 750,000 copies in hardcover and another couple of million in paperback.

"I think I will smash that window, after all."

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