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    September 08, 2008

    Log Cabin's McCain mistake revisited

    Posted by: Chris

    Johnmccainsketch Just as I expected, Kevin has made by far the strongest argument I've seen anywhere in favor of the Log Cabin endorsement of McCain-Palin. His general point is that the decision was necessary for Log Cabin to retain any influence within the Republican Party, and to preserve access in a McCain White House.

    Fair enough. I certainly understand that motivation and guessed as much before they announced the endorsement. Also, I will defer to Kevin's far superior knowledge about the control (or lack thereof) that GOP presidential nominees have over the platform process.

    Still, before I respond to Kevin's argument, a word about motives. Kevin says he "can only speculate as to why [I've] been on such a tear" about the Log Cabin endorsement, although he believes I was motivated by "truly want[ing] more progress in the GOP" because I know he knows "as absolute fact that [I don't] want Log Cabin to fail."

    Of course he's right on both counts -- I believei that I recognize more than most gay non-Republicans how critical support from the GOP will be to hastening our full equality under the law. I regularly defend Log Cabin in part because I know how critical they will be to bringing the GOP around. In fact, that's precisely why I went on "such a tear": because I see Log Cabin mishandling what should be an enormous opportunity, not just to its own detriment but to the movement's as a whole.

    Kevin agrees with me that Log Cabin needs to raise the bar each election cycle, and yet he somehow misses that in reality LCR set the bar in roughly the same place as 2004 and only infinitesimally higher than way back in 2000.

    Eight years ago, Kevin reminds us, "Karl Rove did meet with Rich Tafel face-to-face at the 2000 GOP convention, and came to an agreement on a number of items in return for an endorsement, [but] he never -- EVER -- would have given a speech before our organization that convention week." Kevin doesn't let us in on what "items" Rove agreed to, and we've got no indication what "items" McCain's camp signed off on -- so comparison there is rather difficult.

    The only visible difference we can see between eight years ago and now is the brief public appearance made by two McCain campaign officials at Log Cabin meetings during the convention, as well as the official credentials LCR received in St. Paul. Do those differences really amount to raising the bar -- commensurate with the growth in support for gay rights in general, and among Republicans in particular? It certainly doesn't to me.

    Kevin portrays these mini-advances as achievements made in spite of the non-endorsement four years ago, bu I would argue that's got the politics backwards. The LCR refusal in 2004 served notice that an endorsement this time around was no sure thing, and the McCain camp had to worry about a repeat, along with a series of press appearances that to distract from wooing moderates and independents.

    Most disappointing for me, however, was Kevin's failure in almost 1,800 words to say anything at all about how McCain in reality failed to chin even the meager bar that he says Log Cabin set for presidential candidates this cycle: opposition to a federal marriage amendment.

    To make their case, Log Cabin and Kevin are still reaching back before this campaign season to a time when McCain fervently opposed an amendment as "antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans." That's ancient history, as they know far too well. A fair and objective assessment is that McCain is at best "conditionally opposed" or, I would argue, "conditionally in favor" of amending the nation's founding document to ban states from marrying same-sex couples.

    As I've written until blue in the fingertips, McCain has been backing away from his opposition to a federal amendment throughout this campaign season, just as he backed away from condemning the Pat Robertsons of the party as "agents of intolerance." McCain's slow-motion flip-flop climaxed last month in pledge to support a federal marriage amendment if even one judge rules the notorious Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

    My issue with the Log Cabin endorsement isn't just the way it papers over what is supposed to be its line in the sand. I think those inside the Log Cabin bubble -- and those who spent years there -- underestimate their own potential to influence the party and the debate. Kevin would measure LCR's political power by the size of membership rolls orby the number of gay Republican voters.

    They're forgetting the percentage of committed party activists -- like Republican delegates -- and GOP-leaning who are sympathetic to gay rights.  Not to mention those who see scapegoating the gays as a sign of Republican intolerance and judgmentalism, however they feel about gay rights itself.

    If Log Cabin were to play it's P.R. cards more effectively, it could play a major role in defining whether Republican candidates -- at whatever level -- are perceived as hard core conservatives or those of the "compassionate" variety.

    That's why I think Kevin is off base in imagining Log Cabin would have been "declared finished" if it had "endorsed McCain by press release and gone home" to fight Proposition 8 in California. To the contrary, if Log Cabin had withheld its endorsement and done the media rounds to explain why, the media would have eaten it up -- just look at the press the hardcore Hillaryites got. The message would be clear thata candidate like McCain will pay a serious price for opposing every form of gay rights protection ever proposed, and backing away even from opposition to a federal amendment.

    Instead, I'm afraid, the take-away message for GOP politicians and operatives is the one I took last week: opposing our equality doesn't really matter, even if like McCain the record is grossly out of touch with Republicans generally, so long as they say a few placating words.

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    Comments

    1. Lucrece on Sep 8, 2008 4:43:32 PM:

      Chris, you're missing a big part: Despite the lack of endorsement last election cycle, a sizable number of Log Cabin members still voted for Bush. What makes you think this will not happen again?

      I think you're exaggerating when you say they will lose a great amount of voters; the loss will be minimal, while the gain in social conservative base invigoration will more than make up for this.

      Besides, I think we both know that this is not a mistake. Considering Sammon's outright lies about McCain's inclusiveness, I would say that the endorsement was quite self-serving.

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    1. Double T on Sep 9, 2008 2:46:12 PM:

      Chris,
      Kevin's agrument is similiar to Jews supporting Hitler so they would have influence inside the Nazi Party.

      Exactly, how many times does that boy need to get bit before he figures out that ain't no petting dog.

    1. Geena on Sep 9, 2008 3:04:23 PM:

      Congratulations to Patrick Sammon - president of Log Cabin for having his picture on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.

    1. Charlie on Sep 9, 2008 3:26:09 PM:

      Kevin's agrument is similiar to Jews supporting Hitler so they would have influence inside the Nazi Party.

      It is not even remotely similar.

      I want a caddle prod to use on anyone and everyone who uses an utterly ridiculous and bombastic Holocaust analogy.

      Are you suggesting that the Republicans intend to herd us into camps, torture and demean us, and work us until we die? If that's what you believe I'd like to see something that supports your belief, and if not, do you not realize how insulting your comment is, not to the intended target, but mostly to the people who died in the ACTUAL holocaust, as well as those who survived? Yes, there are plenty of valid arguments against the Log Cabin, and I'm all for the struggle for our rights, but likening our struggle to that of an entire group of people who were treated like animals, and many slaughtered accordingly, is beyond ridiculous. A sense of perspective would be nice.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Sep 9, 2008 4:47:56 PM:

      Agreed. There are way too many gratuitous references to Hitler on this blog and in others. Let's stop referring to Hitler unless the topic is German history from 1933-1945.

      I'm just generally very disappointed with LCR's endorsement. The only difference between John McCain and George W. Bush on GLBT issues is that Bush supports the federal marriage amendment while McCain only conditionally favors it; Chris has explained this point nicely.

      That difference is negligible, especially when you consider that the Democratically controlled congress would NEVER EVER even think about passing such an amendment.

      I find it amusing, if not galling, that so many gay conservatives delight in pointing out that the Democratic Party hasn't made any significant progress on gay issues. And so, what? This is LCR's idea of "progress?" The new guy, McCain, only conditionally supports a federal marriage amendment, instead of outright supporting it? Well, that's so much different! Let's hear it for the great maverick and federalist, John S. McCain.

      What a joke. If LCR wants to support and endorse John McCain, great. But you know what? If McCain wins, I don't want to hear one flippin' word from these LCR people about how there's no ENDA, no immigration rights, etc. They knew what they were voting for when they threw their support behind McCain.

    1. Gee on Sep 10, 2008 12:37:18 PM:

      Maybe Palin can get the LCR to join her church's ex-gay program.

    1. Gee on Sep 10, 2008 12:45:49 PM:

      Charlie,

      The base of the GOP - Sally Kern is an example - would like to criminalize us - yes. Jail, reparative camps - that would be their ultimate wish.

      The Holocaust analogy is not that far off base. We are talking about the religious right wing here - Tony Perkins, James Dobson, Alan Keyes, Hagee, Lou Sheldon, Pat Robertson - the list goes on and on - people with a direct phone line to the White House and with millions of supporters.

      The religious right wong is not the entire GOP - but they have enough power and influence that they can do real harm to gay people's lives - they are only a few steps away from that.

    1. Gee on Sep 10, 2008 12:50:43 PM:

      Charlie,

      In addition - how many others in the GOP who are not part of the religious right are willing to throw gays under the bus inorder to retain political power by cow-towing to the base? A good percentage. Add those numbers to the religious right when referring to how absurd it is to make holocaust analogies.

      Would you rather wait until 20/20 hindsight kicks in before you make the analogy? No thanks.

    1. Double T on Sep 10, 2008 12:52:46 PM:

      Charlie,
      Take your CATTLE PROD, and use it on yourself.
      Your argument that one can not make such a comparison is based on the conclusion of the past historical events. We do not know the conclusion of present events.

      MY POINT- those Jews knew Hitler was a problem. Instead of finding an answer they joined the problem.

      As far as Bush and Hitler's abuse of civic liberties....well I don't have that much time.

      And yes, I can understand why readers of this blog don't like the Hitler comparison in politics, it's better to use real life examples like the BORG.
      Ok, right.

    1. Charlie on Sep 10, 2008 1:07:04 PM:

      In addition - how many others in the GOP who are not part of the religious right are willing to throw gays under the bus inorder to retain political power by cow-towing to the base? A good percentage. Add those numbers to the religious right when referring to how absurd it is to make holocaust analogies.

      It doesn't matter how many GOPers are against us, the analogy its still ridiculous and frankly, insulting. I certainly agree that there are factions in this country who would continue to oppose our civil rights, and I'll even agree that those factions are generally aligned with the Republican party. But do you really believe that any significant number of those factions, or any powerful factions in the Republican party, would, given the chance, enact an organized and systematic slaughter of gay people? The Jews in the Holocaust were not denied rights to marriage, they weren't called hurtful names, they were demeaned, tortured, and murdered like animals. To suggest that our struggle is anything like what they endured is beyond self-indulgent, it's actually nauseating.

      And if anyone who can defend this analogy really believes that the Republicans have genocide on their to-do list, then you better quit wasting time on this blog and devote all your energy to preventing that from happening. It's life or death, right?

    1. Gee on Sep 10, 2008 1:21:36 PM:

      Charlie - no they would not slaughter gay people. I do not believe that for a minute.

      They would imprison us. They would send us to reparative camps. They would label us as child molestors in society. As agent of the devil.

      Sorry you feel so insulted.

    1. Charlie on Sep 10, 2008 1:23:57 PM:

      Your argument that one can not make such a comparison is based on the conclusion of the past historical events. We do not know the conclusion of present events.

      That's true. We don't. But perhaps Obama (who I do intend to vote for, by the way) is actually an alien sent here to enslave the entire human race. Or as some lunatic actually suggested elsewhere on this blog, he is the anti-christ foretold by Revelations and if he give him power he will destroy the world. You can speculate whatever you want... doesn't make it true.

      MY POINT- those Jews knew Hitler was a problem. Instead of finding an answer they joined the problem.

      This, I will actually concede, that some Jews may have supported Hitler in hopes of changing the direction of the Nazi Party. Since they had no idea what was coming, they can't entirely be blamed, and I get that your argument is that LCR members are doing the same thing. Sure. But to suggest that the Republicans could, or would, ever enact something like the Holocaust here is beyond ridiculous. But I'll pretend it's serious for a second. Yes, we're a nation in trouble but no prominent Republicans have actually scapegoated the gays for our current problems the way Hitler scapegoated the Jews, so there is just no reason to believe that if McCain is elected that public opinion could turn against us so dramatically as to allow something like that to happen, keeping in mind that current polls show that about 50% of the population support us. Do you think Dick Cheney is going to just stand there as they drag his daughter off to the death camps? (Ok, maybe he would.)
      What is much more likely is an decrease in the human rights afforded to illegal immigrants and to Muslims. Internment camps for gays? Nah, I don't see it. Do you? Really? So if the analogy only goes as far as the suspension of some of our civil rights, well, my previous post stands: a federal marriage amendment is ALMOST the same thing as being rounded up into death camps, right?

      As far as Bush and Hitler's abuse of civic liberties....well I don't have that much time.

      Bush is a bad man. No argument. Muslims got a bad rap after 9/11. The gays? Not so much.

      it's better to use real life examples like the BORG.

      The Borg are not God-fearing.

    1. Gee on Sep 10, 2008 1:25:33 PM:

      Charlie,

      How big of a leep is it to make that people in power who label gays as of the devil, as evil, as child molestors - could end up harming gay people? Not a huge leep.

      Many of my gay Jewish friends agree with me.
      Sorry you are so insulted.


    1. Charlie on Sep 10, 2008 1:33:01 PM:

      They would imprison us. They would send us to reparative camps. They would label us as child molestors in society. As agent of the devil.

      I get that fear, and it's not totally absurd, but I think we're a long ways away from that. I honestly think it's just as likely that LCR will gain a meaningful foothold in the Republicans party as it is that the Republican party will be totally overtaken by those that would even considering doing the things you list. McCain is not the guy who is going to do that. (Bearing in mind, I am NOT a fan of him, and would vote for a rusty doorknob before I'd vote for him.)

      There's another reason why the Holocasut analogy breaks down. An aryan couple could not give birth to a Jewish baby, so no there was no familial intermingling. It was easy enough for the aryans to pretend that the Jews were subhuman, but considering that gay people are all straight people's children, brothers and sisters, or even parents, do you really think that straight people could ever be convinced to justify treating us this way?

      The political climate just doesn't support this fear, I don't think.

    1. Gee on Sep 10, 2008 1:35:50 PM:

      Charlie,

      Lets start with economic and emotional harm and go from there. Gays not allowed to be school teachers. Children taken away from gay parents. Gay youth brainwashed into thinking they are mentally ill and evil and possessed by the devil. Gays fired from any job just b/c they are gay.
      Gays not allowed to rent or buy homes.

      Now - what if other factors come into play like they did in Germany in the 1930s - where gays are scapegoated for all social ills - for bad weather [caused by global warming], etc.

      Let the GOP religious right base get more and more power and you WILL get a taste of what Jews started to experience in 1930s Germany.

    1. Charlie on Sep 10, 2008 1:44:26 PM:

      How big of a leep is it to make that people in power who label gays as of the devil, as evil, as child molestors - could end up harming gay people? Not a huge leep.

      Many of my gay Jewish friends agree with me.
      Sorry you are so insulted.

      I'm not insulted by your comments, Gee.

      I think the leap is not crazy, but a bit paranoid, if I'm to be honest. There's plenty of Democrats who are just as intolerant of us as the Republicans are, but I just don't think there's enough people over all in this country to garner support for such a movement against us.

      I'm not a Jew although I'm descended from some, and some who went through the Holocasut... but my arguing this point has nothing to do with that. I just think it's absurd rhetoric.

    1. Gee on Sep 10, 2008 3:05:23 PM:

      Charlie,

      I understand your point. But I disagree that it is absurd.
      I think that if any group could be vulnerable to a holocaust type persecution it is gay people. We would be perfect targets. There is no other group in western world that is as vunerable to discrimmination, abuse, hate, and especially lies than gay people.

      Many Germans were in denial about the holocaust up to and including the time it was actually happening. How that happen in a country like Germany? It did. If what happen in Germany could happen - then a gay holocaust could happen in the USA. I don't think it will - but I think it could.

      In fact we are hated, lied about, misunderstood, and despised by people in our own country AND we were killed in the holocaust. People are capable of terrible things.

      Palin could be the President of the most powerful country on earth - just in case you don't think crazy things can't happen. That does not mean we need to live as if they will.

    1. DaveNPa on Sep 12, 2008 7:45:22 AM:

      I'm sorry, I agree with Charlie. Gee, your arguement entails us not believe that human thought about homosexuality and human rights in general hasn't progressed since the 1930s.

      While I agree the religious right is big and has it out for us, I do not believe they have more power in this election than in the elections past. Especially since most of them were not behind McCain to begin with. Not to mention the cases of hypocrisy that has come from the religious right leaders in the past 2 years.

      Politicians like Sally Kern are few and far between. I'm no lawyer or politician, but getting laws on the books that would allow homosexuality to be reclassified as a mental disorder or criminal behavior would take a change in mindset for over 50% of the current congress.

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