August 16, 2007
The fix was in for Hillary, take 2
Posted by: Chris
Addendum at the end of the post....
Hilary Rosen is the most powerful person behind the gay rights movement that almost no one "outside the Beltway" has ever heard of.
She was the longtime chief lobbyist for the Recording Industry Association of America (blame her for Napster's downfall) and longtime string-puller at the Human Rights Campaign. Most who have heard of her know her as also Elizabeth Birch's longtime partner, though they split up earlier this year.
It turns out she was also the producer behind last week's HRC-Logo presidential forum. It's a bit dumbfounding that she played that role, including selecting the questions to be asked, considering she has already endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Hilary Rosen for Hillary Rodham, anyone?).
This explains one interesting sidelight from the forum. Did anyone else notice how, as Hillary entered the stage to sit down with the panelists, the camera cut to Eric Alva, the gay Iraq veteran who has fought for "Don't Ask Don't Tell" repeal? Then, moments later, Hillary referred to Alva in her DADT comments. No chance that was coincidental. It was a gift from Hilary to Hillary, straight from the control room.
She claimed to have been "unbiased" in her producer chair, but she had no business playing any organizing role whatsoever. More evidence the fix is in for HRC (the candidate) at HRC (the org).
Rosen has never been shy about her contempt for me and my views and the coverage HRC has received from newspapers I've edited. So I was surprised how much I agreed with her take on the forum, posted on her (relatively new) lesbian social networking site called Our Chart.
Among her thoughts:
Barack Obama: He said that the difference between civil unions and marriage was "semantics." I found that remark patronizing. When candidates are selling themselves to be a new kind of politician and someone who will do things differently, they do have a responsibility to take our issues to the next level as well. I didn’t put that moniker on him, he put it on himself. Yet he wants to pick and choose the exceptions.
Agreed that calling the difference between civil unions and marriage "semantics" was Obama's weakest moment during the forum. But Rosen ignored the rest of what Obama had to say, when he connected the issue of gay marriage to interracial marriage, and then said even though his own parents would have been blocked from marrying by anti-miscegenation laws, Obama would have advised the black civil rights movement to pick its battles and wait on marriage. Not only is that refreshingly honest, it's also correct — at least at the presidential level.
John Edwards: I thought he went over board to convince us that he cares. Knowing what I do – that this has been a journey for him, (if people only knew how long it took us to get him to even co-sponsor ENDA when he got to the Senate).
Agreed as well on Edwards feeling our pain just a little too enthusiastically. I wish people like Rosen had been more upfront before now about Edwards early days of resistance on gay rights. It makes his "journey" all the more suspicious, though Rosen credits the evolution as genuine.
Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel: In theory I care about what they said, but in practice, I just don’t very much.
Bill Richardson: Though I haven’t talked to him since the Forum, I suspect that he heard the words choice v biology and since "choice" is a good thing in women’s rights and a major political word in that other context, he got confused. In any event, I think we should take his sincere multiple apologies at their word.
Again, agreed, as I wrote here. I thought the press obsession with Richardson's "choice" gaffe was unfortunate, but par for the course for Richardson's mistake-prone campaign.
Hillary Clinton: I heard her despair at Melissa Etheridge’s characterization of the Bill Clinton legacy (a powerful cut on Melissa’s part) and genuinely believe that she thinks they did better than that. I didn’t like her misstatement of the facts about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell being progress when they knew at the time that no one thought so since we all protested the result. She was right that the existence of DOMA helped defeat the FMA in the last two Congress’s but they had no way of knowing that at the time they supported it.
Here we part ways. Rosen is willing to credit "her friend" Hillary where many of us are not. And that's what it comes down to because, as Rosen points out, Clinton's defense of DOMA/DADT was disappointing and ineffectual.
We keep seeing this with Hillary Clinton, whether on DOMA, DADT or even Iraq. Reverse positions without ever admitting error in the original. If she keeps getting these things wrong the first time around, why should we trust her judgment? Why shouldn't we dismiss her own "evolution" as tacking according to more favorable political winds?
Addendum: One more thing has nagged at me: The candidates supposedly appeared on stage in the order they agreed to the debate. Hillary was the second candidate (after Obama) to say yes, and that's why the original HRC-Logo announcement included only these two as confirmed participants.
So why wasn't Hillary second on the stage, after Obama, instead of last — where she could capitalize on building expectations for her appearance and leave the last impression with viewers? More evidence still that it pays to have "your girl" in the control room?
For a complete summary of gay issues in the U.S. presidential campaign visit www.gaynewswatch.com/whitehouse08
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