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  • « GNW 5: Reality show and Second Life | Main | Democrats waffle on the web »

    January 14, 2008

    Sully didn't know Lyndon Johnson…

    Posted by: Chris

    … but he still believes Hillary is no Lyndon Johnson, and much as I did yesterday he draws the gay rights comparison for proof:

    Are [the Clintons] really today's version of LBJ? In fact, unlike most others in this race, we have some direct evidence of how the Clintons, given the power of the White House, responded to the civil rights movement of their own time.

    In the 1990s, we saw a burst of grass-roots activism, protest and rhetoric in defense of gay and lesbian equality. Out of the ashes of the AIDS epidemic, the gay rights movement rose like a phoenix. And the Clintons, seeing a fund-raising opportunity, reached out to some in the movement to finance their own campaign. Those donors trusted them. I wrote the TNR endorsement. But as soon as the gays had performed their role - financing the Clintons in power and supporting their campaign - the Clintons turned on us.

    They dropped their promise to end the military's ban instantaneously and then presided over a doubling of the discharges of gay service members under the hideous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. They then used the other emerging civil rights issue - marriage equality - to triangulate against gay couples. They ran ads on Christian radio stations bragging about the Defense of Marriage Act that president Clinton eagerly signed.

    And the only gay people they embraced were those willing to continue to trade money for access - and loyalty to the Clintons. Who helped them devise this anti-gay strategy? Dick Morris. Who recommended hiring him in the first place? Hillary Clinton.

    Johnson risked his entire coalition on the issue of civil rights - a heroic act that still reverberates today. The Clintons wouldn't risk a smidgen of a percentage point in a Mark Penn poll for the duration of a news cycle. That's the difference.

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    Comments

    1. Michael Bedwell on Jan 14, 2008 5:38:19 PM:

      Oh Wise Men! Can't you make up your minds? Was LBJ a good witch or a bad witch? How are we to follow your attack on Hillary Gale for allegedly comparing herself to him without knowing?

      And, what, pray tell would Mr. Sullivan know of the battle for gay rights other than what he read about in the "NON-Advocate" or shared in pillow talk with bareback tricks found through the Internet when some of those most commonly agreed upon such as job protection he has long disparaged?

      Lies and distortions about what Bill Clinton did or did not do aside, the logical fallacy at the center of his sciolistic attempt to contrast LBJ and WJC is how different they and their experience/powers were when they assumed office. As he so often does, Sullivan assumes an “all other things being equal” position that, once again, destroys his argument

      1. Johnson had served in Congress [House, then Senate] nearly thirty years where he became a still legendary wheeler-dealer; eventually as, according to some historians, the most powerful Senate Majority Leader in our history, with a good working relationship even with Republican President Eisenhower. He had even led the passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act, the first since Reconstruction. Clinton had never served in Congress, and was virtually unknown 2. Johnson then became Vice President. Clinton had never held national elective office until becoming President. 3. Johnson was swept into the Presidency in an instant once JFK was declared dead. The explosion of emotion that attended his assassination, followed by millions watching in real time his accused assassin killed himself, was unprecedented in not just our own but world history. Contrast the fact that, due to the limits of media at the time, it took weeks for some to learn that Lincoln had been killed. Clinton was elected in just another political contest; beating a whiny, wishy-washy pseudo-patrician who had risen to the peak of his incompetence as Reagan's lapdog. Also in contrast, Johnson never had a Richard Mellon Scaife spending millions to dig or create dirt on him as the Clintons had, including publicly accusing them of having one of their aides killed. 4. Having sincerely embraced the black civil rights cause, Johnson instinctively knew that he could use the emotion associated with JFK’s assassination legislatively, telling a nationally televised joint session of Congress just five days after Kennedy’s death: “No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill.” Further, he had already successfully ledBy contrast, opponents of Clinton’s idea of an executive order opening the military to out gays [announced during the campaign] were already organized ready to flood Congress with calls, letters, etc., opposing it the moment he mentioned it after taking office. Michelangelo Signorile describes in “Queer in America” both Clinton’s naivete and that of gay groups at the time who offered him little help in providing a counter national voice, and, specifically, HRC and a new group formed by David Mixner wasting time and energy fighting over the issue’s turf. Meanwhile, Clinton had two homophobic vipers in his own nest that might have flummoxed even the experience and tenacity of LBJ. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell threatened to resign if gays were admitted, and Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Sam Nunn, pissed that Clinton had bypassed him for Secretary of Defense, led the civilian charge against gays in Congress and, news cameras in tow, through the intimate bunks on Navy submarines and across American TV screens. 5. The gay civil rights movement, even without the devastation dealt it by AIDS, contrary to Sullivan's patented hyperbole, had neither then nor has now the numbers of active participants, the decades of action in every forum, the respect and embrace of virtually the entirety of Judeo-Christendom and Academia that the black civil rights movement had by the time LBJ became President. In fact, polls show that, quite to the contrary, the majority of African-Americans are STILL against full equality for gay Americans of whatever race. Not for nothing did, years before any of us had heard of Bill Clinton, black gay civil rights icon Bayard Rustin declare that “the barometer of where one is on human rights questions is no longer the black, it’s the gay community. ...there are very few liberal Christians today who would dare say anything other than blacks are our brothers and they should be treated so, but they will make all kind of hideous distinctions when it comes to our gay brothers.” As they did in 1993. Clinton made many mistakes. Some of them out of inexperience or naivete or political expediency. But only the ignorant or the dishonest would paint him as some kind of homophobe in sheep’s clothing.

      Finally, did Mr. Sullivan mean to assassinate the characters of all of Clinton’s gay appointments or just some of them? Such as James Hormel, Bob Farmer, Virginia Apuzzo, Roberta Achtenberg, Richard Socarides, Karen Tramontano, Sean Maloney, Fred Hochberg, Bruce Lehman, Gail Shibley, Vic Basile, Romulo Diaz, John Berry, Robert Raben, Harold Creel, Jr., Todd Dickinson, Elaine Kaplan, Jesse White, Jr., Todd Summers, Daniel C. Montoya, Dr. Mike Rankin, Dr. R. Scott Hitt, and the late Bob Hattoy who didn’t live long enough to celebrate Sully’s announcement that “AIDS is over!”

    1. Craig Ranapia on Jan 14, 2008 7:32:43 PM:

      Christ on a crutch, Michael. Who pissed in your triple espresso this morning?

      Still, nice to see the Rove wannabes in the Democratic Party and the gay so-called community never, ever learn. Considering the rabid hysteria the Cintonistas resort to at the merest sniff of dissent, Bill and Hillary are in the wrong racket. They should get out of politics and start a religion.

    1. Monster Beats Sale on Nov 30, 2011 1:28:15 AM:

      They should get out of politics and start a religion.

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