March 08, 2008
John McCain's closet case
Posted by: Chris
I was hopeful in a syndicated column a couple of weeks ago that the replacement of George Bush and Karl Rove at the GOP helm by John McCain might result in a general election with fewer electoral scapegoats, with immigrants neutralized as an issue and gays less likely to be used as a wedge issue. I'm still cautiously optimistic, though McCain has been less than forceful in distancing himself from the outrageous rhetoric of some of his prominent supporters.
Some news today tempered my optimism even more. It appears that Rove and his longtime No. 2, Bush-Cheney '04 campaign manager Ken Mehlman, have now begun advising the McCain campaign in an unofficial capacity.
Mehlman, who has been coy to the point of refusing to respond to rumors that he is gay, was along with Rove the leading architects of the cynical wedge strategy that used state ballot initiatives banning gay marriage to bring social conservatives out to vote in November 2004.
Those of you who were regular readers of the Washington Blade when I was editor know that Ken and I were law school classmates (at the same time Obama himself was studying there), and Ken and I went on to co-found with a larger group an organization of young Republicans called Square One.
Despite a lot of unfounded speculation to the contrary, I have no direct knowledge about whether Ken is gay, and we lost touch years ago, around the same time I came out as a young lawyer working in a D.C. law firm. But I did watch with dismay the strategy employed by the Bush camp, apparently at Rove and Mehlman's direction, that played to bigotry and sacrificed the civil rights of gay Americans as a cheap ploy for votes in Ohio and a few other key electoral states.
I've seen no evidence that either Rove or Mehlman has undergone a Lee Atwater conversion or even mellowed out much. So seeing them with John McCain's ear does not bode well for the general election that awaits. Especially considering that McCain already has on board Bush's 04 media strategist Mark McKinnon, and Steve Schmidt, Bush's "attack dog" in that election.
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