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    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.

    Mehlman 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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    1. Lucrece on Mar 8, 2008 3:31:02 PM:

      What about that lovely pastor who makes it a routine to demonize Catholics, Jews, gays, and other minorities? One would expect that he'd rebuke such actions, that he would distance himself from the pastor. But this is of course wishful thinking; he did just the opposite.

      I wonder what spin the LCR will put on this now.

    1. Kary on Mar 9, 2008 2:46:02 PM:

      There you go again, Chris....being "cautiously optimistic" about the political party that has relentlessly demonized us. Please don't infer that I think the Democrats are our saviors, but at least they don't demonize us. It is one thing to be "conservative"; it is quite another thing to be a republican....and be aiding and abetting the sworn enemy of gay people. It is very unattractive to be begging at table for the crumbs of these homophobic scumbags. Get some self-respect.

    1. GregL on Mar 9, 2008 9:09:10 PM:

      It's really despicable to spread these unfounded rumors about Ken. His is a decent guy like you said and it only comes across as jealousy that you would try to backstab him this way - without the balls to say anything to his face. This is what is wrong with the leftist elite of the gay community. You are so desperate to justify your victimhood that you lash out at others who have been tremendously successful in their careers. Whose business is it anyways what Ken does in his bedroom?

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Mar 9, 2008 10:03:18 PM:

      "Homophobic" "scumbags", indeed.

      What I find amusing is that the same out gay people who whine about Ken Mehlman supposedly being gay and supporting homophobic politicians are the very ones endorsing Democrat politicians with the same positions as "pro-gay" and "gay-supportive".

    1. Tim on Mar 10, 2008 11:37:46 AM:

      Chris, I'm quite sure you have more experience with Ken than the rest of us, however your article is not up to your normal standards and if I remember correctly Andy Towel quoted him as saying he wasn't gay. I was disheartened by his strategy as well, specially after Bush went thru the effort of having gays at the first convention and thumbing his nose at the Texas delegation who protested. The 2004 campaign was a fairly shocking 180 from where they were 4 years previously. Still implying people are gay is beneath you.

    1. Chris on Mar 10, 2008 1:05:17 PM:

      Let's be clear about semantics. I have taken more personal grief than anyone (short of Ken himself) for refusing to say he's gay. I have refused to say it (or report it) because I don't have anything approaching the factual basis for doing so.

      But Ken is, in fact, a closet case because he has declined on a number of occasions to say what his sexual orientation is. That's the definition of a closet case. And I'm also sure we can all agree that almost no straight man in the history of heterosexuality has ever declined to identify his sexual orientation when there are rumors he is gay. So people can draw their own conclusions.

      Ken has been a bit more coy than that, usually declining to say and maybe once suggesting he is straight. But the one denial has to be considered in the context in the other refusals to answer. We are each entitled to draw our own conclusions from the series of answers over time.

      I haven't seen enough to justify taking him off my "closeted" list -- which, by the way, also includes prominent Democrats like Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign. I also pursued her story aggressively as an editor; not by invading her privacy but pressing her to answer the question, which she had succeeded for years in avoiding.

      The rules apply to those of all political persuasions, and it's never wrong to ask the "gay question" and let people draw their own conclusions about the answer. I make no apologies for that.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Mar 10, 2008 1:32:17 PM:

      I have taken more personal grief than anyone (short of Ken himself) for refusing to say he's gay.

      I don't see why, because you clearly are saying he's gay. There is no other conclusion that can be drawn from your statements.

      Simple fact of the matter, Chris; you're rationalizing.

    1. Tim on Mar 10, 2008 5:49:40 PM:

      possibly ndt, but he is professing to have a standard to rationalize by, and as long as he has a standard than we can only to hold him to it, not bitch slap him for it. That is your philosophy remember. Not pushing just working with what they offer? Oh wait that only applies to straights, gays have to retroactively toe your line.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Mar 11, 2008 2:06:17 PM:

      Tim, I think his standard is based on a flawed premise. Furthermore, I think his consistency, such as it is, is a means of rationalizing that flawed premise.

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