The past week or so reminds me of the summer of 1968. It wasn’t because of the tumultuous Republican National Convention held in August of ’68 in Miami. That convention ended with the nomination of Tricky Dick Nixon and Spiro “the Crook” Agnew. Still, some similarities were seen in the Summer of 2016. The later Democratic Primary during August 1968 in Chicago, during which local police launched a beat-down against anti-war protesters was even worse. But neither Chicago, Miami nor even Prague –during the Warsaw Pact crackdown with 750,000 troops marching in to curb Czechoslovakian liberalism — bring any particular memories. That was 49 years ago. I was almost 13 years all.
Instead, it was a song from August 1968 that seems so appropriate these days what with “Gropegate,” the unearthing of dirty deed allegations against many prominent and not-so-prominent men.
It would be 10-to-15 years before I came to fully appreciate story-telling-songster Tom T. Hall for the genius of his writing. A song he wrote and performed was best well-known by the version recorded by Jeannie C. Riley. Her version of “Harper Valley PTA” became a No. 1 Billboard “Hot Country” single, as well as that publication’s No. 1 “Hot 100.” For me, it was from that song that I learned the meaning of and the harm from the word “hypocrite.”
The song, “Harper Valley PTA,” tells how a daughter came home from school with a note from the PTA demanding her mother, the Widow Johnson, appear before the parents-teachers group. The note accuses:
” … Mrs. Johnson, you’re wearing your dresses way too high
It’s reported you’ve been drinkin’ and runnin’ round with men and goin’ wild
And we don’t believe you oughta be a bringin’ up your little girl this way.
And it was signed by the secretary, Harper Valley PTA.”
It happens that the PTA was meeting that very afternoon:
” … And they were sure surprised when Mrs. Johnson wore her mini-skirt into the room … ”
The widow Johnson commenced to launch a verbal whupass into some of those members assembled.
And Mr. Baker can you tell us why your secretary had to leave this town?
And shouldn’t Widow Jones be told to keep her window shades a pulled completely down. Well Mr. Harper couldn’t be here cause he ‘s too long at Kelly’s Bar again. And if you smell Shirley Thompson’s breath you’ll find she’s had a little nip of gin. And then you have the nerve to tell me, you think that as a mother I’m not fit.
Recent allegations of sexual abuse by prominent people beginning with Harvey Weinstein, to former president George H.W. Bush, to Alabama Christian Right Wing GOP senate candidate Roy Moore, to sitting liberal Democrat, Sen. Al Franken, and many in between has made one wonder: Who’s next?
The Twitter #Me Too phenomenon may continue to produce more and more men to be confronted with past sexual abuse. President 45 has a multitude of such accusers. So, it is quite hypocritical for 45 to blast Franken’s indiscretions, for which the Senator apologized, and yesterday the complainant accepted the apology. That didn’t stop that asshole 45 from making one of his stupid Tweets against Franken.
And it is likely our 45th president, who may have been helped in winning his election in November 2016, by the subject of his bromance with Russian President Vladimir Putin, will not apologize for his alleged sexual abuse and his hidden tape recording during which Trump bragged about his ability to grab a woman’s crotch without any ramifications.
Hypocrisy has been ignored as a sin by the Republicans for many years as well as some Democrats. The bar has been placed way, way too low. This seems, perhaps, on the cusp of change. But I will see it when I believe it.
Lyrics of “Harper Valley P.T.A.” written by Tom T. Hall and the You Tube video are presented under the Fair Use doctrine.