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Pat Boone on Politics, Porn and the Death Tax

Pat Boone, 71, is one of America’s most beloved entertainers. In the 1950s, he was the nation’s second most popular singer after Elvis Presley. His hits, “April Love” and “Love Letters in the Sand,” were No. 1 for six and seven weeks respectively. He starred in 15 movies, including Journey to the Center of the Earth and State Fair. Long an active conservative Republican, Boone is currently spokesman for the 60 Plus Association. Last week, Boone spoke with Human Events Political Editor John Gizzi.

You have always been known in Hollywood as a conservative and a Christian. In 1961, in fact, you, Ronald Reagan, Roy Rogers and John Wayne addressed Dr. Fred Schwartz’s all-Southern California anti-Communist rally. Has it become more difficult for someone [in Hollywood] to be a conservative and a Christian today?

Pat Boone: I was not involved politically at that time. Then, I felt so strongly about anti-communism and I did read Fred Schwartz’s book and then came his crusade at the sports arena. What Schwartz said in his book [You Can Trust the Communists—To Be Communists] made perfect sense to me. The phrase, “Better Red Than Dead,” was sweeping college campuses at the time.

When my time came to say a few words, I quoted that sentiment. I said I’ve got four little girls and if it ever came to that, although I pray it never will, I would rather see my four daughters blown to heaven in an atomic blast than caught in the hell of a Communist United States.
It impressed Reagan and he quoted that a number of times, beginning by saying, “I once heard a young father say.” That’s what occurred that night.

My activism and my being very outspoken never abated after that and it has cost me as an entertainer. There is a visceral antipathy that producers, hirers and firers have. I feel myself in the other direction. I have feelings I have to control of anger and total disregard for certain actors and outspoken people in our business that I think are ruining American culture.

Do you care to name any names?

Boone: When Norman Lear started People For the American Way, he asked to meet with me. He wanted me to be the voice of People For the American Way—its spokesman. He knew I had considerable influence and a high-profile among Christians and Middle America.

I said to him: “Look, I understand why you have these feelings. You want to promote your point of view. But your main concern is with the Christian right, isn’t it?” He said, “That’s right.” I said, “I know you’ve been openly critical of [Rev.] Jerry Falwell. I know Jerry, although I’m not a member of the Moral Majority. He feels that what you’re doing and saying and promoting is at least as harmful for America as you feel his point of view is. So why don’t we get you two guys together? I have a feeling that so many of your concerns are similar. Since I know him, I think he’d be willing to meet with you.”

Lear said, “No, I wouldn’t meet with him.” When I asked him why, he said, “He’ll just quote Scripture and I don’t know anything about that. I’m not going to meet with him.” When he left, he knew I wasn’t going to be his spokesman.

I’m on the unpopular side in the entertainment community. A number of entertainers, Jonathan Winters for one, say to me, “Boone, I believe everything I ever hear you say. But I don’t dare say it.” Now, here’s a comedian who’ll say anything if it’s funny, but when it comes to politics or spiritual things, he knows that he’s written off if he were to express himself as emphatically as he would really like to.

Why have you signed on with the 60 Plus Association, and why do you believe its premier cause, abolishing the estate tax, is so critical?
Boone: [60 Plus President] Jim Martin, a former Marine and longtime friend of the President, contacted me and asked me if I wanted to join him and his organization. I had been asked to be a spokesman for a number of seniors’ groups, but I put it off because I wasn’t ready or willing to be considered a senior. Several years ago, in a 10K race here in Los Angeles, I chose a very public moment in front of the network affiliate cameras to come out of the closet and admit I am a senior. Since then, I haven’t been reluctant to let people know that, yes, I am a senior and I do feel very concerned about Social Security and the economy and medical costs.

I have considered for many years that this estate tax is absolute robbery. You already pay taxes, you save money, you’ve been a good citizen and a responsible person, you save up something, maybe it compounds, but you’ve already paid tax on it. Now, when you have the poor judgment to die, the government steps in and says, “Thank you for doing that all these years. We’ll take half of that.” And maybe your folks have to sell the business and the house.

When Bing Crosby’s [first] wife Dixie died [in 1952], going back that far, he had to sell assets to pay the estate tax. On top of losing his wife, he was losing assets on which he already paid taxes. I read this was the case and asked him, and he said, “Oh yes. You can’t get away from the long arm of the IRS.”

Some say that hip-hop, acid rock and similar modern music is destructive. Do you agree that a lot of it is harmful?

Boone: Oh, yes, I’ve been very vocal about that, too. The culture is being dragged into the gutter, and the ones doing it are not just the performers, but the record company executives. It’s calculated on their part because they realize there’s some fascination, as we used to be fascinated with Jimmy Cagney in the gangster movies. But in the movies, the criminals always got caught and punished.

The executives found some years ago that this “gangsta rap” music was being bought and played by kids out in the suburbs. These are the well-to-do kids, not the black kids in the ghetto areas. They were not the ones subscribing to it and making this music so successful. It was the kids driving BMWs that their dads gave them that were playing it very loud and rattling windows of the houses they were going by. They’ve made a multi, multi-million dollar business out of it.

What’s the answer to this? Are you talking about censorship?

Boone: I had a real head-to-head with Robert Blake one night on the Merv Griffin Show about censorship. I said that no society can survive without some form of censorship. He said, “You’re crazy. We don’t have censorship. That’s bad.” I replied, “Wait a minute. The traffic light at the corner is a form of censorship. It says you stop so that someone else can go. And then you have your turn to go.” We have laws on the books that prevent you from standing up in a theater and yelling, “Fire,” or from walking down the street and opening your trench coat and exposing yourself. There are laws that tell you that you can’t do certain things and that’s what a society does to protect itself.

I believe we need censorship. I don’t think the arts we call the arts—literature, movies and certainly not the airwaves—should be exempt from the rules society makes to protect itself. It’s the sensibilities of kids and the females we used to call ladies we’re talking about. Thanks to “Sex and the City” and this other stuff, they can be just as profane and filthy as men.

I’ve watched segments of “The Sopranos,” and I just get so sick of the glamour. Talk about Cagney and Bogart. We’re making national heroes out of gang bosses.

I do advocate censorship for a healthy society with three provisos: that it be majority-approved, self-imposed and voluntary. The “voluntary” and “self-imposed” may sound like the same thing. The society agrees that we need to protect ourselves, and there are certain bounds beyond which we don’t want the public to be exposed to filth. But we will make the rules in a voluntary, majority-approved way. And they can be changed by majority opinion.

I have felt that a healthy society should draw some lines in the dirt and say, “You cannot cross over this line. You cannot say certain words on public television and cable or anything that’s going to reach sensibilities. We are going to do something to defend our kids and our ladies and our families.” But it’s something you just can’t even talk about in the entertainment industry. But I say, how are we going to protect ourselves if we don’t demand responsibility?

One final point—friends in California say that you were urged to run for Congress as a Republican in 1968. Why didn’t you do it?

Boone: That was back when I had all of my kids at home. I just knew that it would be totally time-consuming and if I were elected, I’d have to do the job. I thought I could get elected. But I also knew if I was elected, I would do my best to be a good congressman. However, it would be very disruptive of my family life because I would spend a lot of time away from family. And also, I could never go back to being an entertainer.

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Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ? and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ? and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â? video interviews that appear on HumanEvents.com. Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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