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July 6, 2005

PBS' secret weapon (Why their funding got restored)

Paul Weyrich warns that the wives of Republican congressmen are undermining the conservative goal of defunding PBS.
Congressional appropriators cut a modest $100 million from the PBS budget. Guess what? The money was restored through an amendment approved by a majority of the House of Representatives.

Sure, almost all of the Democrats voted to restore the money. Why shouldn't they? To the extent that the programming on PBS radio and television stations is political, and it almost always is, the politics is far to the left.

But how does that explain a majority of Republicans voting to restore PBS funding? Or to paraphrase Lenin, Republicans will pay for the programming with which they are being hanged.

I happened upon one of the most able Members of the House of Representatives soon after the PBS vote took place. He was upset about the outcome as well. Why, I asked, would this happen at a time when Congress actually had cut other budgets and actually had passed almost all appropriations bills with less funding than last year?

His answer was simple -- the wives. He said PBS has been smart enough to recruit the wives of Republican congressmen to assist the local PBS stations.


The fact is that most congressional wives, even those married to very conservative Republicans, are to the left of their elected spouses. Normally that wouldn't mean much unless a new version of the Equal Rights Amendment was to be seriously considered.

When it comes to federal funding for PBS, congressional wives swing into action and their husbands sheepishly comply. Members of Congress know that restoring that money is absolutely unnecessary to keep PBS programming on the air.

They also know if they cut all federal funding for PBS it would have no real effect on public broadcasting. But then they wouldn't be on the couch; they would be on the back porch, perhaps in the dog house. That is why congressional appropriators felt that $100 million was the biggest cut they could sustain.
Weyrich suggests that the wife of a male congressional candidate should be vetted as thoroughly as the candidate himself. No matter how solid the candidate is, if his wife doesn't pass the test, conservative voters should think twice before voting for him.

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