- Politics and Social Issues
GOP Throws the Bigots Down the Well!
Smoke the Bigots Out of the Closet, Frank Rich Op-ed NYTimes 2-7-10
Frank Rich, my favorite columnist, devoted his column this morning to the events of the past week or two on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and to unraveling the mystery of the GOP leaders' curious silence on the issue. He finds the GOP's silence curious in view of Karl Rove's and George W.Bush's " 2004 national campaign exploiting gay people."
Only John McCain, out of step with other GOP leaders, "fulminated" against the proposal to drop the policy claiming that it should remain in force "as long as any war is going on." McCain's pal, Joe Lieberman called for "action as soon as possible." Orrin hatch "limply" speculated that dropping the policy would lead to gays demanding "special rights." On only one point was he crystal clear: “I just plain do not believe in prejudice of any kind.” House minority leader, John Boehner, would only say that "In the middle of two wars and in the middle of this giant security threat, why would we want to get into this debate?"
Even Fox News adopted a ho hum posture on Admiral Mullen's, Sec. Gates' and General Powell's endorsement of dropping the policy. Only CNN, desperate for ratings, provided air time for "old homophobic cliches. Michael O’Hanlon, an “expert” from the Brookings Institution, speculated that “18-year-old, old-fashioned, testosterone-laden” soldiers who are “tough guys” might object to those practicing “alternative forms of lifestyle,” which he apparently views as weak and testosterone-deficient. His only prominent ally was the Family Research Council, which issued an inevitable “action alert” demanding a stop to “the sexualization of our military.”
Rich continues "....why did such a hush greet Mullen on Capitol Hill? The answer begins with the simple fact that a large majority of voters — between 61 percent and 75 percent depending on the poll — now share his point of view. Most Americans recognize that being gay is not a “lifestyle” but an immutable identity, and that outlawing discrimination against gay people who want to serve their country is, as the admiral said, “the right thing to do.”
"But that’s not the whole explanation for the scant pushback in Washington to Mullen and his partner in change, Defense Secretary Robert Gates. There is also a potent political subtext. To a degree unimaginable as recently as 2004 — when Karl Rove and George W. Bush ran a national campaign exploiting fear of gay people — there is now little political advantage to spewing homophobia. Indeed, anti-gay animus is far more likely to repel voters than attract them."
"The occasional outliers notwithstanding, why did such a hush greet Mullen on Capitol Hill? The answer begins with the simple fact that a large majority of voters — between 61 percent and 75 percent depending on the poll — now share his point of view. Most Americans recognize that being gay is not a 'lifestyle' but an immutable identity, and that outlawing discrimination against gay people who want to serve their country is, as the admiral said, 'the right thing to do.'”
Meanhwile, in California, where the trial over the state's anti-gay Proposition 8 law is coming to an end, attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson, opponent lawyers in Bush v. Gore, shredded Prop 8 supporting witnesses as the trial came to an end. You may recall that Ted Olson, a prominent Federalist Society member and Bush's Solicitor General. Before that he represented Paula Jones in her suit against Clinton. According to Rich, "The opposing lawyer, Charles Cooper, insisted to the court that he bore neither “ill will nor animosity for gays and lesbians.” Given the history of the anti-same-sex marriage camp, it’s hard to make that case with a straight face (so to speak). In trying to do so, Cooper moved that graphic evidence of his side’s ill will and animosity be disallowed — including that notorious, fear-mongering television ad, “The Gathering Storm.”
The judge admitted such exhibits anyway. Boies also triumphed in dismantling an expert witness called to provide the supposedly empirical, non-homophobic evidence of how same-sex marriage threatens “procreative marriage.” In cross-examination, Boies forced the witness, David Blankenhorn of the so-called Institute for American Values, to concede he had no academic expertise in any field related to marriage or family. The only peer-reviewed paper he’s written, for a degree in Comparative Labor History, was “a study of two cabinetmakers’ unions in 19th-century Britain.”
Frank Rich's op-ed is linked below.
2-7-10 NYTimes--"Smoke the Bigots out of the Closet"
- Frank Rich--Throw the Bigots Down the Well
Now that explicit anti-gay animus is an albatross, those who oppose gay civil rights are driven to invent ever loopier rationales for denying those rights, whether in the military or in marriage.