March 21, 2007
Nature of the Bugg?
Posted by: Chris
There's an interesting post (called "Nature of the Beast") from Metroweekly editor Sean Bugg on his personal blog about the HRC brouhaha. As you can see if you scroll down to the comments, I expressed surprised that he was so bitchy toward me personally, considering he agreed with me that:
- HRC focuses too much on champagne fund-raisers and not enough on its mission.
- With the sizable resources they take from the gay community ought to come sizable scrutiny.
- Tim Gill offers an attractive alternative for gay donors.
- The Globe story highlighted how HRC has devoted too few resources to fight state amendments and too much on electing Democrats.
- HRC should not come out so early and often for the other HRC, Hillary.
- HRC should be truly bipartisan where it can in supporting candidates, which means sticking with pro-gay GOP incumbents. (I wrote editorials back in 1998 defending HRC's endorsement of Alphonse D'Amato and clearly it hasn't hurt them or gays with Chuck Schumer).
- HRC has handled the blog backlash badly and acted almost Bush-like in claiming its critics are helping "the enemy."
That last point is an important one. I have already said how silly I think it was for Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese to declare my own criticisms "bad for the movement," but Bugg highlights the "gob-stobbing" (Bugg's apt phrase choice) claim by long-time HRC deputy David Smith (in a Washington Blade story that Bugg fails to credit) that , "There’s nobody happier about what Andrew Sullivan is doing than Tony Perkins and James Dobson."
If you close your eyes, you can almost channel White House Press Secretary Tony Snow or some GOP hack on the Hill claiming that Osama Bin Laden and his henchmen revel in any war criticism that Democrats (or free-thinking Republicans) dare to offer. Is this the model now for how our movement's biggest organization treats its gay critics now?
What's more, the Washington rumor mill is buzzing with claims that HRC is on board with a Hillary-hatched Democratic plan to hold off on passage of employment non-discrimination and/or hate crimes to save them as "wedge issues" for 2008. What's good for Rove is good for Solmonese? We'll have to wait and see just how much of our movement's goals the Democrat-first, gay-second leadership at HRC is willing to sacrifice.
So where do Bugg and I disagree? His Washington-weary reminder that "it's the nature of the beast" for groups to inflate their numbers and cave on principles in favor of donors.
In fact, the original Blade story (from two years ago, again uncredited by Bugg) that Andrew Sullivan relied on in criticizing HRC's book-cooking "member" tally compared HRC, NGLTF, NCLR, PFLAG and even AARP: None of the others counts members the "creative" way HRC does. And HRC's methodology was criticized in the Blade piece by the National Council of Non-Profit Associations. Is that bar really too high?
As for the "vitriol" and "animosity" that Bugg says has characterized the debate, perhaps he shouldn't have checked his own alleged "genteel Southernness" before writing his posts. He take a couple of catty shots at me without any explanation, and he and I have never even had a one-on-one conversation. As far as I can remember, we've only even met once.
I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact I edited a competing publication for five years.
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