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    September 05, 2008

    What the Log Cabin endorsement means this time

    Posted by: Kevin

    Schmidtx240 DuhaimeAlthough Chris will slather the criticism on like layers of icing on a New Jersey Italian wedding cake, he gets credit for doling out the praise when it's due.  (Well, a bit more was due for the Log Cabin Romney ads, but I digress.)

    His post calling Log Cabin's endorsement of John McCain this week a "big mistake" was one of the longest he's ever posted, I think, and I can only speculate as to why he's been on such a tear about something that most observers saw coming far in advance.  (I would speculate that it was for good reasons, that Chris truly wanted more progress in the GOP, because I know as absolute fact that he doesn't want Log Cabin to fail.)  But I think Chris didn't have the context, the history and the real significance of Log Cabin's 2008 decision completely right, and that's where he missed the story.

    As he's now reported, the endorsement was warmly accepted by the campaign, which dispatched two of its very senior leaders in person -- and before the media -- to say so.  Mike DuHaime (l), the political director (and a Giuliani campaign alum) attended the announcement of the endorsement on Tuesday and gave remarks from the podium saying it was proof that McCain is running an inclusive campaign.  Then, senior strategist Steve Schmidt (r), the man seen as the driving force behind McCain's general election campaign, attended an event Thursday and was more personal, effusive and explicit in what he saw as the meaning of Log Cabin's endorsement, and of the broader issues facing gay people, as someone who knows about it first hand as the brother of a lesbian.  Schmidt called for Log Cabin to "keep fighting for what you believe in because the day is going to come."   The video is here.

    As Chris has already pointed out, this is very positive news.  And I'll add that the endorsement was woven into it completely.  Chris was right to say that the "bar must be lifted" on a consistent basis each election cycle, but he failed to grasp the context of where the bar actually was going into this election, and where it is now after the events in Minneapolis.

    Log Cabin is an organization that represents, at best, 800,000 to 1 million votes, or a fraction of a percent of the turnout in the last presidential election.  It is also the one group inside the GOP that grates more upon the better organized and more numerous Christian right than any other.  And this is a group that publicly and bitterly broke with its party's nominee in the last election four years ago, leaving its access and political capital highly depleted for the second Bush term. 

    The political price Log Cabin paid for its correct stand in 2004 against George W. Bush may have been the highest of any of its decisions in its history.  Already a target of extreme (and unceasing) attacks from the gay left, it was now cast out of the national GOP fold.  All the more an indicator of great bravery for a group so small in the big picture.  (Does anyone remember anything remotely similar contemplated in 1996 when Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act and then bragged about it through campaign ads on Christian radio stations in Colorado, despite being miles ahead in opinion polls?) Measuring where "the bar" would be for Log Cabin as the campaign began last year, therefore, was where I think Chris started to get things wrong.

    As they set out with great hopes - despite having no ability to control events -- to fight their way back into the game in 2008, Log Cabin set a couple of basic bottom lines.  Support for the Federal Marriage Amendment was a non-starter, and Mitt Romney - for his 180-degree turn away from Log Cabin and supporting gay rights - would have to be punished and stopped from becoming the nominee.  And from that basis, they would seek every opportunity to build upward.

    By the time they pulled into Minneapolis, Romney was gone, all the men who backed or voted for the FMA in the Congressional vote were defeated.  The one man who voted -- and spoke on the floor -- against the FMA emerged the victor.  Any Log Cabin leader will tell you that, apart from playing a constructive role in stopping Romney, the organization was in no position after the 2004 breach to have a substantial impact on the primary vote at the ground level or in coalition with Republican national leaders.  (For this, their compelling pounce on Romney was a sign of the scrap that has always been in the group's DNA.)  In reality, the biggest opportunity to rebuild the blown-up bridges in a way that advanced Log Cabin's mission inside the party would be around the convention and the endorsement decision.

    If Log Cabin had merely shown up in Minneapolis, endorsed McCain by press release, and gone home saying they'd simply be focusing on the Proposition 8 fight in California, it would be clear signals that the 2004 action had been more damaging to their capacities inside the party than had been thought.  Chris would have certainly declared them finished, and it would be hard to argue against.  Some partisan gay Democrats would, of course, be cheering at such news; for purely petty and selfish reasons, they've wanted Log Cabin to fail and disappear for more than a decade.  Throughout the blogosphere (including in the comments on this very site) many gays openly call for Log Cabin to be "shunned", to be "silenced", to be "punished" or to have their right to speak, to assemble or even to vote taken away.  (The attack on the highly obscure Jonathan Crutchley was a perfect example of this mob mentality that does not, and has never existed, within Log Cabin in return.)

    But this didn't happen.  And it wasn't going to happen.  If you believe that the McCain campaign is captured by the Christian right, and that McCain himself is "gay-bashing" to win this election, there was no sense in, and absolutely nothing that either DuHaime or Schmidt could have possibly gained from, going publicly before Log Cabin's delegation and saying the things they said.  The backlash would have been far too severe, if those assumptions were true.  And yet, there you are.  It happened, and it was another first for a GOP presidential campaign.  While Karl Rove did meet with Rich Tafel face-to-face at the 2000 GOP convention, and came to agreement on a number of items in return for an endorsement, he never -- EVER -- would have given a speech before our organization that convention week.  And certainly not one with such a personal tone that connected directly to Log Cabin's "fight".

    And so far, a pin can be heard dropping in response from within the party.  In fact, a predominant theme of McCain's speech was "country before party."  And say what you want of Governor Sarah Palin, but she gained office by unseating an incumbent Republican governor -- and a member of GOP royalty in the state -- in a primary election.  That ought to give a hint as to how he might respond to a backlash.

    And while I could end up being wrong, I doubt there will be one.  Every Log Cabiner at the convention that I have contacted reported a level of warmth from more average delegates than at any other convention they ever attended.  The poll of the delegates which showed a remarkable level of support for gay marriage or civil unions was not a surprise to many gay Republicans there.  And Log Cabin got official credentials from the convention's host committee, had an official convention booth, had a hotel room block under their group's name with the RNC organizers, and had the national party provide them with sanctioned spaces for their events -- an absolute first for a group that has had to file lawsuits to be able to even have a pamphlet table at some state conventions.  That is a major contrast between McCain and many of the arch-conservative fiefs in the more difficult regions of the country.

    One other thing Chris mistakenly said over and over is that McCain "controlled" the delegates at the 2008 convention, and therefore could dictate the platform.  As I tried to explain once before, this is a misnomer, and a misreading of the de facto situation of "control" of any Republican National Convention.  It's no excuse for the condemnable platform that gets produced every four years.  But no nominee will ever "control" the GOP platform -- far from it -- until the delegate selection rules are changed in nearly all of the key states.  The state parties control the selection processes for delegates, and a long time ago the rules were fixed by a hard-core of far right activists to ensure that no matter who won a primary or a caucus, the delegates going to convention would be of the most hardline social conservative types, with the specific purpose of controlling the platform.  In 1996, Bob Dole tried to shine a microscopic beam of light on the abortion plank and was shot down hard; he then quipped that he hadn't read the final version and didn't intend to.  George W. Bush sent a platform draft to the 2000 convention that was scrubbed of much of the anti-gay language of the previous one, or softened notably.  An organized, but highly outgunned, group of Log Cabin and pro-choice allies tried to preserve the draft, but were mowed down on plank after plank and the bad stuff was loaded back in.  So, as Log Cabin spokesman Scott Tucker said adeptly this week, the platform "was not the hill we were going to die on."

    And wisely so.  That is a battle for later.  For now, Log Cabin has re-emerged from the disaster of the FMA and is re-booting their fight within the Republican Party with a new vigor and a new set of challenges to take on.  What they scored in return for their endorsement in the bigger context of where they came from is extraordinary, and due entirely to their undying persistence in moving forward no matter what gets thrown at them. 

    And I agree with McCain's most senior aide that "the day is going to come" for Log Cabin's fight to be won.

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    Comments

    1. Andoni on Sep 5, 2008 8:14:40 PM:

      Good luck, seriously.

      Should McCain win, can you do me a favor and get a UAFA provision inserted into the immigration bill when he resurrects it.

    1. Kevin on Sep 5, 2008 9:02:20 PM:

      LOL well that would be hard for me to do from Sao Paulo. I think it will be all of our duty to work together to make it happen. If McCain somehow wins this election, it would not be a green light for Obama's supporters to simply check out.

      And what's more, I haven't decided who to vote for yet myself.

    1. Doug on Sep 5, 2008 9:50:05 PM:

      'the day is going to come'. . . . how very condescending.

      I believe that what was said to African Americans back in the 60's when they wanted civil rights.

    1. Charlie on Sep 5, 2008 10:02:37 PM:

      Thanks for this, Kevin. A hope a lot of either liberal leaning people (like myself) read this in the light that I did: if no one changes the Republican party's stance on our rights, then the Democrats can get away with tossing us crumbs and calling it progress, as they've done. And it's not like the christian right is going to wake up in a "tolerant" mood one day and decide its okay to stop treating us like third-clss citizens; someone needs to get in there, roll up their sleeves and FIGHT. Yes, LCR takes a lot of flack, but no one seems to want to see that those same people could have just been quietly voting Repub while nodding at their liberal friends, but to come out publicly as a gay Republican is a surefire way to get rejected by everyone, and yet they've done just that. Anyone can demand change NOW, but it takes a certain faith to actually work for it, when that work might take decades. I, for one, am very pleased to see it happening.

    1. Lucrece on Sep 5, 2008 10:48:36 PM:

      Well, I had hoped the LCR's would respond to the "keep fighting" comment with something like "Um, there'd be no fight if it weren't for you."

      Of course, they chose the sensible option of self-preservation. It's sad that it comes at the cost of purposely mischaracterizing a presidential candidate in an effort to supposedly "educate" voters.

    1. Ron on Sep 6, 2008 1:15:55 AM:

      Oh my! Kevin, you write like the man that will say anything to get into someones bed and pants for a one time booty call.
      Republicans! They've not embraced gay and lesbian people in almost 50 years of activist work for our equality. I hope that you and your fellow LCR members are recruiting young gay/lesbian Republicans to take up your activist/hope mantle since you folks will very old to witness and experience total acceptance into this party, if even then.

    1. Allan on Sep 6, 2008 2:37:41 AM:

      There's a very interesting story in those statistics showing that almost half the delegates at the RNC support same-sex unions of some kind.

      Could it be that (gasp) the delegates are not truly representative of the party?

      They were the whitest and richest group of delegates ever to congregate at the Grand Oil Party's hoe-down of hate. I bet they're all pretty cosmopolitan types, and I bet many of them attended fancy Ivy League colleges and drive European import cars. I'm sure the wives just love their gay hairdressers and florists and interior designers and feel so proud of themselves when they get invited to the boys' weddings.

      Could they be (gasp) elitists who pander to what they think the little people they manipulate into voting against their self-interests believe?

      Could all this culture war be just a sham and their true goal is the preservation and advancement of their wealth at everyone elses' expense?

      Meanwhile, Obama proposes a tax code that would increase his and Michelle's tax burden so that everyone else can keep more of their hard-earned money. But he's an elitist. Go figure.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 6, 2008 2:58:58 AM:

      Meanwhile, Obama proposes a tax code that would increase his and Michelle's tax burden so that everyone else can keep more of their hard-earned money.

      If Obama is in such a hurry to give away money, nothing's stopping him from doing it himself and on his own dollar.

      If Obama supports people as rich as he is paying more taxes and not taking advantage of any tax breaks, why didn't he do so on his last tax returns?

      This is what is amusing about Obama; he rails against high healthcare costs and overpaid healthcare executives, but always forgets to mention his wife's $300k-plus per year position managing "community relations" for the University of Chicago hospital system -- a salary which doubled and then some immediately after Obama took office and right before he steered a nice, fat, juicy earmark in their direction.

      In other words, he's all for charity -- as long as he can force other people to pay for it whether they want to or not.

    1. susanj on Sep 6, 2008 4:18:51 AM:

      Not to offend, but the LCR rhetoric sounds to me like someone justifying re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. "We're really committed to our deck chair strategy, and we truly believe that if we get the placement just right, then the geometric dynamics will serve to right the entire ship!" Well, I'm pulling for you, I guess, but I'm not overly optimistic.

    1. Allan on Sep 6, 2008 9:50:44 AM:

      WD40 neglects to mention that Mrs. Obama's salary increased because she was promoted during that time period, and like all enemies of the common good, i.e. Republicans, he attempts to belittle her good work for the economically depressed South Side Chicago area in which the University of Chicago sits. From her bio:

      Since 1996, Michelle has worked for the University of Chicago. As associate dean of student services, she developed the university's first community service program. Later, she became the vice president of community and external affairs for the University of Chicago Medical Center. Under Michelle's leadership, volunteering skyrocketed, both in the hospital and the community. Hospital employees serving in the community increased nearly fivefold, while community members volunteering in the hospital nearly quadrupled.

      It's funny how Republicans despise community service unless the money is being funneled to religious organizations. That Marxist George HW Bush should immediately disband the "Thousand Points of Light" program because it honors this kind of communism.

    1. Kary on Sep 6, 2008 10:09:30 AM:

      Does anyone have any pictures of the Log Cabin Traitors walking around the St. Paul Limp Dick Pep Rally? Do they "pass" as straight, with little discrete LCR emblems, or do they show up as proud gay people? Just wondering.

    1. Kris on Sep 6, 2008 10:59:32 AM:

      Instead of pictures of LCR members. Let's see some pictures and interviews with Obama's Muslim family and ask them how they feel about gay Americans and America.
      Let's talk to Barrack Hussien Obama's family!!!
      Obama won't say a word about Palin's daughter, because his mother was knocked up by two different black Muslim men out of wedlock. His mother was a whore.
      Obama's family is the American nightmare.

    1. Double T on Sep 6, 2008 11:25:36 AM:

      susanj- i agree with you.

      I think LCR should have stayed with their original 2008 plan-REMAIN INVISIBLE.

      As far as the writing of this post. Well, I have to admit the Kevin is one of the greatest gay writers of our generation. Hands Down. I particularly like would he brings to life the role of VICTIM.

      cue soundtrack to Terms of Endearment.

    1. Doug on Sep 6, 2008 11:29:29 AM:

      Kris - Spoken like a true Republican. Time to get back on your medication, you are truly sick.

    1. Double T on Sep 6, 2008 11:36:30 AM:

      Oh...one more thing.
      If the boys at LCR want to be meaningful players at the RNC, they need to partner up with someone who is actually in the game. Let me suggest the National Rifle Assoc.

      LCR could enter the tent as Friends Armed w/Guns

    1. Chester on Sep 6, 2008 12:46:15 PM:

      The LCR will never get anywhere with the Republican party as long as the Christianists hold all the power. And since they were able to force McCain to select their choice for VP, I think the LCRs should just not have endorsed at all.

    1. Doug on Sep 6, 2008 1:40:50 PM:

      "Palin church promotes converting gays"

      Way to go LRC, get in line for the conversion.

    1. Charlie on Sep 6, 2008 2:25:58 PM:

      Obama's Muslim family

      Kris -- Turns out, being Muslim, or related to one, is still not punishable by death in this country. Let's work to get that changed, right?

      His mother was a whore.

      Kris -- You must be a Democrat because I heard they're the ones engaging in the sexist rhetoric this election season.

      Do they "pass" as straight, with little discrete LCR emblems, or do they show up as proud gay people?

      Kary -- meaning what, are they wearing pink fluffy tuxedos? Is "passing" the opposite of "pride?" What is this, 1983?

      The small-mindedness present in the comments on this particular thread has me kinda sad.

    1. Geena on Sep 6, 2008 2:42:35 PM:

      You can put all your eggs in one party basket.

      Or change the whole country by welcoming gay and lesbian participation in both parties.

    1. Charlie on Sep 6, 2008 3:21:53 PM:

      Or change the whole country by welcoming gay and lesbian participation in both parties.

      Very well said, Geena. If I'm not mistaken, that's why we HAVE two parties.

      What's the old saying about what happens when you start pointing fingers?

    1. tristram on Sep 6, 2008 10:26:13 PM:

      Geena and Charlie - "participation" is one thing, "endorsement" is something else - or at least it should be. The LCR's showed some spine in 2004 and tried to participate without endorsing. After suffering through 4 long years of not being invited to the cocktail parties, they weren't going to make that mistake again. Hence the bizarre rationalizations about McCain's position on queer issues - from DADT to SSM and about the Christianist running mate.

    1. Charlie on Sep 6, 2008 11:56:22 PM:

      Tristam -

      I'm not saying I think LCR should have endorsed McCain, especially since, if I've read Chris and Kevin's posts correctly, all the touchy-feely lovefest came AFTER the endorsement, not as a reason for it. It's certainly possible that the Republicans are saying "thanks for the endorsement, love ya, seeya, bye." It's also possible that they're not, considering the polls of delegates that suggest that there's a lot more Republican support for us than we've actually ever physically seen.

      As long as the Republicans give us nothing, the Democrats can toss us crumbs and call it progress. Imagine a race, presidential or at any level, in which you did not need to select your candidate based on his or her gay rights record, because the two parties put up candidates with equivalent records?

      There is undoubtedly a strong force opposing us within the Republican party. Why does it only make logical sense to battle this force by investing in the opposing party, rather than infiltrating the party, gaining a foot hold within it, and decreasing our enemies' power base this way? Doesn't it make some sense to try both tactics? I've only recently found this logic, having previously believed that all LCR members were uptight "traitors," as another poster called them. But that stopped making sense to me when I realized that traitors very rarely work together in a large-scale, organized fashion, as they're too self-serving to do that. So maybe LCR has some genuine, ultimately pro-gay agenda? I'd like to believe so.

      That being said, I think a vote for McCain in this election would be foolish on any number of levels, and so I agree that it's hard to to get behind this endorsement. My defense is not of the endorsement, but of the LCR organization itself, which has taken a lot of flack in this thread and others, not just for their current endorsement, but a knee-jerk reaction to its very existence.

    1. Hawyer on Sep 7, 2008 12:58:14 PM:

      Kev - in the totality of your 1700-word defense of the LCR McCain/Palin endorsement, you failed to create any sense of accomplishment, other than a sort of masochistic decision "stay the course" ...

      Frankly, with the roll-out of Palin and her Assembly-of-God religious moorings, I pulled the plug on any effort at conciliation. **

      It's gonna' be a long dreary four-years (notwithstanding a couple of generations blowback from troglodyte Supreme Court appointees) if your boy (and girl) gets elected POTUS.

      At least most of us queers don't have kids to be indoctrinated with Creation Science in the public schools.

      ** - Check out this shit - Assembly of God position paper on "homasexshuality"

      http://www.ag.org/top/Beliefs/Position_Papers/pp_4181_homosexuality.cfm

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 7, 2008 1:20:23 PM:

      Again, Hawyer, since you hate "theocrats" so much, why are you endorsing and supporting a candidate who "the Lord's work"?

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Sep 7, 2008 1:21:43 PM:

      And who supports and endorses those you call "theocrats" as "models for action"?

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