I may get Mad, but then there’s just out-and-out mean. The scandal involving former Rep. Foley could take a really nasty turn. Before I get started, let me make something clear: the Foley scandal has as much to do with homosexuality as pedophillia has to do with heterosexuality. Which is to say, nothing at all. Nonetheless, in the social conservative mindset, pedophillia and homosexuality are linked, and, in terms of the political dynamic, that idiocy does matter.
It would be kinda like thinking Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11, even though he didn’t.
One of the dirty secrets in Washington is the noticeable presence of gay Republicans–they are quite common, but they are never discussed. Now, if homosexuality doesn’t bother you, this isn’t an issue, but, as Foleygate shows, if you’re a social conservative, this is very, very disturbing. Gay Republicans–closeted, or at least, ‘non-public’ ones–have been part of Washington circles for a very long time. In the 80s, they referred to themselves as the “‘Lavender Bund”, and in the 90s, one self-applied nickname was the “laissez fairies.” (Gay Republicans, at least, seem to have a very well-developed sense of humor).
So how is this going to get ugly? Journalist David Corn was sent a list of prominent gay Republican staffers put together by angry gay activists (note: Corn has no intention of ‘outing’ anyone on the list). Corn writes:
What’s interesting about The List–which includes nine chiefs of staffs, two press secretaries, and two directors of communications–is that (if it’s acucurate) it shows that some of the religious right’s favorite representatives and senators have gay staffers helping them advance their political careers and agendas. These include Representative Katherine Harris and Henry Hyde and Senators Bill Frist, George Allen, Mitch McConnell and Rick Santorum. Should we salute these legislators for being open-minded enough to have such tolerant hiring practices? After all, Santorum in a 2003 AP interview compared homosexuality to bestiality, incest and polygamy. It would be rather big of Santorum to employ a fellow who engages in activity akin to such horrors. That is, if Santorum knows about his orientation.
…anytime a gay Republican is outed by events, a dicey issue is raised: what about those GOPers who are gay and who serve a party that is anti-gay? Are they hypocrites, opportunists, or just confused individuals? Is it possible to support a party because you adhere to most of its tenets–even if that party refuses to recognize you as a full citizen? The men on The List might want to think hard about these questions–as they probably already have–for if I have a copy of The List, there’s a good chance it will be appearing soon on a website near everyone.
This doesn’t surprise me: it’s been an open secret that Sen. Allen–yes, “Macaca“–has had several gay staffers. And “There’s a good chance”? Gay activists are already circulating ‘The List’ to reporters (e.g., David Corn). Let’s just say that the “good chance” could very well approach unity on that puppy. As Billmon notes, this will create real problems for the Republicans:
But here’s the thing: Their Biblically literate (and literal) followers don’t know it, and probably aren’t too happy to learn that GOP actually stands for Gays Obscured but Protected. I think that’s one reason why another post-Foley conservative talking point — that the House leadership didn’t crack down on him because it was afraid of appearing homophobic — was quickly recalled. Sensitivity on that score isn’t exactly a Christian fundamentalist selling point.
The ‘politics’ of sex always turn ugly. And if the Christopath right was not so utterly obsessed with what consenting adults do in their private lives, we would probably avoid the coming ugliness.