Thursday, August 26, 2010

“Looking hard for a drive-in, searching for a corner café…”

I don’t subscribe to the Daily Beast’s e-mail alerts because I agree with the website’s politics. I just like to be better informed about the important issues of the day, like this article that ranks the forty healthiest hamburgers across the U.S.A.

Wait for it…

Yes, you read that right. Healthy hamburgers. Look, I’ve never claimed to be the poster child for good eating habits—but even I know that hamburgers are not designed to be healthy. This makes about as much sense as listing the forty healthiest donuts, or the forty healthiest food items that have been deep-fried and served up at county fairs.

So, anyway—while I’m checking out this countdown of diet burgers, I run across two articles of a highly political nature (yes, I’m about to go off on a rant here so you might want to go out to the lobby for a smoke until this blows over)…one with this particularly earth-shattering headline:

GOP's Ken Mehlman: I'm Gay

Nooooo!!! Get outta town, you nutball!

Ken Mehlman, the campaign manager for President George W. Bush’s reelection bid in 2004 and the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, confirmed Wednesday that he is gay. Mehlman said he had only recently arrived at this conclusion himself and had just told family members and associates.

As Pam is often fond of saying: “He had news for himself.” (As I am fond of observing: “In other late breaking news…water is wet.”)

Mehlman is now the most powerful Republican in history to admit being gay, and has long been subject to rumors and innuendo about his personal life. “It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,” he said, while acknowledging that had he managed to come out of the closet sooner he may have stopped his party’s shift away from gay marriage.

Ken seems to be preoccupied with the notion that he’s the gay Oskar Schindler; that he and he alone could have changed the minds of Republicans if he had only come out of the closer sooner and if he only could have sold his car and more of his jewelry. (“I could have gotten one more person...and I didn't! And I...I didn't!”) But I think that would be as likely to happen as my parents taking up skydiving next week. I’m glad Mehlman has found his voice on this issue, and I support his courageous stance (though the cynic in me knows there’s plenty more higher-ups in the party who could follow in his footsteps but lack his intestinal fortitude) even though continuing his fealty to the GOP strikes me as the yardstick by which self-loathing is measured. I can certainly understand the concept of gays and lesbians being conservative in their politics—arguing in favor of limited government, a strong military and all the other tropes. But what continues to stupefy me is how anyone who’s gay also has no problem being affiliated with the GOP—a party that for all intents and purposes has put a sign up behind the bar that reads “We don’t serve your kind.” (As my sister Kat has joked in the past, the motto of Log Cabin Republicans should be “We hate ourselves!”)

But enough of Mr. Mehlman—let us now turn our attention to young Meghan “Sour Grapes” McCain, who has been allowed to eat up a bit of bandwidth with a prize-winning essay entitled “The Right Guy Won in Arizona.” (Really? I had read her father won that primary…)

Of the events that I witnessed during the race both locally and in the media, the most telling thing of all is just how much of a threat my father’s presence in the Senate still remains. My father hasn't changed. The media bias has. Many politicians and media pundits are clearly aware of his continued power and influence and would have loved nothing more than to see his long, accomplished career end during this election cycle.

“My father hasn’t changed.” Looks like a quick trip in the WABAC machine is in order, Mr. Peabody…

If my 2000 GOP Presidential Primary opponent, who eked out a victory in South Carolina by trashing my family and my good name, asked me to support him in 2004, I would have told him to perform an impossible sexual act and to do likewise with the horse on which he rode. As for media bias—well, Meg, that’s been there from the very beginning…with the chattering classes dubbing your old man a “maverick” despite the fact that he’s been a crass political opportunist his entire life.

As a Georgian, I didn’t have a dog in the McCain-Hayworth fight—but I pity those residents from the Grand Canyon State who had to choose between a rattlesnake and a rabid dog. It’s only natural for you to want to defend your old man, and I respect that. Now stop whining. Have a piece of cake!

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12 comments:

panavia999 said...

I've never thought of Republicans as anti-gay. I know lots of Republicans who could care less about sexuality, and I know gay Republicans. They are far more concerned with property rights, lower deficits, lower taxes and the usual less government is better.
I also know a couple Democrats who are creeped out by the gay lifestyle, but it's a religious thing with them. In other words, it's waaay tooo variable to label.

Stacia said...

I’m glad Mehlman has found his voice on this issue, and I support his courageous stance

Oh, I'm not. I'm not trying to argue with you, Ivan, because 100% of my problem is with Mehlman.

He did serious, incredible harm to the issues of gay rights and gay marriage during his time in the RNC. Now he comes out and the second he does, Big Name Spokespersons within the gay rights movement demand we "forgive and move on", that he's an ally because of his "proven experience". Bull puckey. He's not at all contrite about his past actions, he's still shilling for the GOP, and he most certainly arranged for these positive welcoming messages to be released the day he came out so he could try to shield himself from the flack. Because he's a coward.

And he didn't just discover his sexual orientation. Bill Maher and Rachel Maddow both frankly said Mehlman was gay ages ago. Everyone knew, up to and including Mehlman.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I've never thought of Republicans as anti-gay.

The 2008 GOP platform stated that homosexuality is incompatible with military service; it called for a constitutional amendment that not only disavows same-sex marriage but the concept of civil unions; and had harsh words for Massachusetts because of their objection to religious groups who refuse to arrange adoptions by same-sex couples. If there's a pro-gay sentiment in there, I must have missed it. The 2010 Texas GOP platform is even worse (well, it is Texas after all): "Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country's founders, and shared by the majority of Texans."

In other words, it's waaay tooo variable to label.

I don't disagree with this. My point is simply this--why continue to be a member of a political party that would treat you in such a discriminatory fashion? Mehlman should be capable of doing better.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Oh, I'm not. I'm not trying to argue with you, Ivan, because 100% of my problem is with Mehlman.

He did serious, incredible harm to the issues of gay rights and gay marriage during his time in the RNC. Now he comes out and the second he does, Big Name Spokespersons within the gay rights movement demand we "forgive and move on", that he's an ally because of his "proven experience". Bull puckey. He's not at all contrite about his past actions, he's still shilling for the GOP, and he most certainly arranged for these positive welcoming messages to be released the day he came out so he could try to shield himself from the flack. Because he's a coward.


I think our disagreement here is simply on the amount of slack I'm willing to cut the guy. There's no doubt about it, Mehlman is--to use a phrase I read on someone's blog, un dickhead formidable--and was certainly guilty of mealy-mouthedism during his tenure with the Bushies. But if the guy is serious about righting past wrongs, then I'm certainly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt...and I feel justified doing so because to me the underlying message is peace, love and understanding (I know, I'm such a hippie)--though again, the fact that he continues to consort with the very individuals who hate his guts certainly doesn't help his case any.

And he didn't just discover his sexual orientation. Bill Maher and Rachel Maddow both frankly said Mehlman was gay ages ago. Everyone knew, up to and including Mehlman.

Oh, believe me--newborn babies came out of their mother's wombs armed with that knowledge. (Hence the snarky "water is wet" reference.)

Scott said...

even though continuing his fealty to the GOP strikes me as the yardstick by which self-loathing is measured.

Exactly.

And while I don't doubt someone might know "a couple Democrats who are creeped out by the gay lifestyle" (the use of "gay lifestyle," being a bit of a homophobic tell itself) we don't -- as Ivan points out -- judge the positions of a political party by the opinions of our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Anecdote, and all the Little Anecdotes. We judge it by a party's platform, and the statements of its leaders. Let's see how many major Republican politicians and candidates say, in the wake of Mehlman's self-outing, "Damn, Ken, if only I'd known you were gay back in 2004 when you were running the Bush campaign, I never would have helped you use anti-gay hysteria as a wedge issue!"

Matthew Coniam said...

This is the problem with attaching social agendas to political ideologies: each can be used as a cover for the other, depending on who you are trying to attract or offend at the time. But there's no a priori causal fit between any social position and an ideological programme, which is how so much mischief gets done.
History records the suprising juxtapositions in parenthesis: what matters are the life and death things - fascism, freedom, control, security etc.
I can't help thinking the world's in just the wrong place at the moment to distract ourselves with petty scorekeeping.

panavia999 said...

I agree 100% with Matthew

Stacia said...

I can't help thinking the world's in just the wrong place at the moment to distract ourselves with petty scorekeeping.

"Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who..."

Seriously, I don't know why anyone would say it's "petty" to discuss a political party's clearly stated platform, a platform that results in the legal discrimination against a class of U.S. citizens. The 2004 platform Mehlman had a hand in is here:

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/papers_pdf/25850.pdf (PDF!)

He stepped down in 2006, but the 2008 platform here:

http://www.gop.com/2008Platform/Values.htm#6

is pretty much a repeat of what's in the 2004. The Republicans' official stance on gays and gay marriage and gay rights is very clear. Discussing this isn't "petty scorekeeping" in the least.

Matthew Coniam said...

Needless to say (?), what I wrote was not in any way synonomous with "Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who". If anything it was closer to its antithesis.
Basically I meant this:
We are allowed the luxury of disagreeing on this precisely because we agree on so much. Arguments of this sort are built upon a kind of shared understanding that we are both part of a post-enlightenment mindset that attaches the same values to individual freedom, the pursuit of happiness, etc. Were it otherwise, any kind of debate would be impossible.
These arguments, then, take place at the contentious shoreline of a vast lake of agreement, and take place on the presumption that the central values at the heart of the lake are secure and protected and safe from harm.
I was humbly suggesting that this may not be the case just at the now, and that there is something ostrich-like in pretending otherwise.

Secondly, and this is a completely different point and not one I made last time: I value democratic freedom too much to make monsters of those who don't happen to share my views. For what it's worth my views on this particular question are almost certainly more or less the same as everyone else who has commented here.
Where we may perhaps differ, is that I don't automatically believe that the fact that a large body of people disagree with me makes them evil, or stupid, or fit only to be dismissed or attacked. Where there is such heartfelt disagreement on a topic, I think we have a duty to approach it from a position of mutual respect, always seeking to advance one view while giving due weight to the other, especially when there is so much emotion tied up with it on both sides. Those who wish only to impose their views rather than argue for them tend to cause more problems than they solve. (I'm putting this as mildly as I can.)

The only disadvantage I can see in the democratic party political system is that it encourages a tribalism that can easily descend into complete isolation, and the reframing of debate and the pursuit of consensus as a game of head-butting, name-calling and demonisation.
Disagreement is a fact of life everywhere other than in totalitarian systems. Cherish it, work with it and around it, cajole and convince and convert. Don't demonise: only frustrated totalitarians do that.

Stacia said...

Arguments of this sort are built upon a kind of shared understanding that we are both part of a post-enlightenment mindset that attaches the same values to individual freedom, the pursuit of happiness, etc. Were it otherwise, any kind of debate would be impossible.

Sorry, no. It's my firmly held opinion that our society as it exists at this moment is not in a "post-enlightenment mindset" as you describe, but that gets into a level of philosophy and ethics that I'm simply not interested in discussing with you. If that means some dude on the Internet who I will never run into again will think of me as a "frustrated totalitarian" for the rest of his life, then I'm 100% A-okay with that, chum.

panavia999 said...

Once again, I 100% agree with Matthew.

Matthew Coniam said...

Oh dear!

I'm afraid it's an historical fact, rather than a debatable opinion, that the concept of oppositional party politics and democratic representation are facets of a post-enlightenment system of government, where the two (or however many) opposing parties must first accept the vast areas on which they agree, stand for and pledge to defend before they can begin thrashing out the smaller areas of disagreement on which future policy depends.

That the only problem with this is that the subsequent (inevitable and right) emphasising of difference over commonality can lead to a loyalty to the very idea of opposition so tribal as to attempt to deny that essential commonality - such as has been demonstrated in some of the comments above - was pretty much the point I was making.

Unless of course by 'society as it exists at this moment is not in a "post-enlightenment mindset"' the commenter meant human society outside of that beautifully sane and safeguarded political instrument, in which case that was pretty much the point I was making also.

As for that odd tone of simmering aggression and personalised resentment, as if responding in kind to a similar attitude that in fact exists nowhere in anything I'd written...
well, that was pretty much the point I was making too.