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    June 27, 2008

    A place at McCain's table

    Posted by: Chris

    Mccainlcrendorsement The recent "education" efforts by Log Cabin Republicans about John McCain's gay rights record appear to have paid off -- our friends over at Gay Patriot reported yesterday that LCR president Patrick Sammon recently met personally with the presumptive GOP nominee. The private meeting wasn't on McCain's public calendar -- much like a secret meeting he had with Hispanic Republicans -- but Sammon has confirmed it:

    We’ve had a series of productive meetings with the campaign since Sen. McCain won the nomination—including a recent meeting with the Senator.  We expect to have more conversations with the campaign as we head toward November.

    It would be very easy to overplay the significance of this get-together. Bruce (Gay Patriot) portrays it as historic -- the first time since Bob Dole reversed himself and decided to accept a contribution from Log Cabin back during his 1996 run for the White House.

    On the one hand, having a gay rights group with "a place at the table" in the McCain campaign is a good thing, so long as they don't give away the store just to be in the room. (That's three mixed metaphors in one sentence, for those of you counting at home.) With McCain's recent backpedaling on a federal marriage amendment -- the one gay-friendly position he's taken in decades of public life -- it's important for someone with access to help him hold steady in the face of pressure from social conservatives.

    On the other hand, within the 24 hours after news of the meeting had leaked, the McCain folks were showing their true colors. First they told Politico's Ben Smith that it was pure coincidence that McCain and Sammon even shook hands:

    A McCain aide emails that the Log Cabin Republicans that the meeting, about two weeks ago, wasn't a formal one. "They were in the office for a meeting with staff and Sen. McCain dropped by. It wouldn't have been on the schedule anyway."

    Then later they "corrected" that impression:

    The same McCain aide corrects: "The meeting with Log Cabin Republicans a few weeks ago was scheduled as a meeting with the senator. Our mistake. Like Sen. Obama, every single campaign-related meeting he has isn’t alerted to the press."

    The immediate effect on the campaign appears minimal as well. Yesterday, the same day the meeting went public, proponents of the ballot measure that would amend California's constitution to overturn the landmark gay marriage ruling were bragging they'd received an email in support from the Arizona senator:

    The ProtectMarriage.com campaign says it received an e-mail from McCain Thursday in which the Arizona senator expressed his support for the group's efforts "to recognize marriage as a unique institution between a man and a woman."

    McCain's position on the amendment isn't that surprising, given that he recorded TV ads in support of a much more draconian amendment in Arizona that would have banned gays from marrying, entering civil unions or domestic partnerships, and even prohibited public agencies, hospitals and universities in his home state from extending health and other benefits to same-sex domestic partners.

    (That Arizona measure is the only gay marriage ban ever defeated at the ballot box; a more limited marriage amendment stalled this week in the Arizona Senate.)

    Even still, McCain's willingness to reach out on the California ballot measure greatly undermines (some would say blows a nuclear-sized hole in) the effort by Log Cabin to use Republican Gov. Arnold Scwarzenegger as some sort of stand-in for McCain on the issue. Here's how LCR put it in their McCain education package:

    When the California Supreme Court affirmed the state legislature in May 2008 and paved the way for marriage equality in the Golden State, Sen. McCain issued a statement saying that the people of California should decide the issue.

    Sen. McCain's strongest California supporter, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), issued a statement immediately following the California Supreme Court's ruling saying: "I respect the Court's decision and as Governor, I will uphold its ruling.  Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling." 

    It appears Rovian-Melhman politics hold greater sway at McCain campaign headquarters than the typical desire of presidential nominees to move to the political center once they've wrested their party's backing. That's not good news for Log Cabin's leaderships, which appears willing to stake its reputation on an "inside" relationship with McCain.



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    1. Kevin Norte on Jun 27, 2008 2:14:46 PM:

      McCain's timing on the intitiative issue is ill-advised at best. Stonewall is this weekend and the Senator's staff should have been more sensative to the timing. Furthermore, since the California Supreme Court has set Monday as the opposition due date for the Writ challenging the placement of the initiative on the ballot and the reply is due July 10th, the Supreme Court is apparently concerned about the matter and may hold a hearing prior to the ballot being sent to the printer on Aug 11th or the Court may issue an alternative writ and remove it from the November'08 ballot pending a hearing later this fall (and place it on the next election's ballot if it determines that it is valid).
      But the political realities are that this issue was mismanaged at various levels by various people besides John McCain. It is unfortunate for America.

    1. Kevin on Jun 27, 2008 3:23:17 PM:


      Excellent analysis on all the angles to this unfolding story. The pressure is indeed on, both the McCain campaign and on Log Cabin, and clearly both of them know it. That leaves room for hope, and for building leverage over McCain. The next chapters of this back-and-forth are crucial. If McCain confirms this position on the CA amendment, it will be a major blow to his standing among a lot of gay Republicans and independents.

      No matter how you slice it, the emotional pull of the fight in California is gigantic, and Log Cabin's own roots are in a similar fight that took place in 1978. There will be some in the hardline wing of the organization who will try to brush it aside (they'll probably not be from California). But it will be difficult to square such a position as what the Yes people are claiming.

      That said, I disagree that Log Cabin is staking its reputation on being "insiders" with McCain. Actually, they are doing what Log Cabin must do every presidential election -- staking everything they've got on doing the most they can to leverage the Republican candidate as much as can be done.

      Here's hoping they succeed.

    1. Lucrece on Jun 27, 2008 4:06:27 PM:

      Well, they failed. McCain has confirmed his position. What a peculiar form of inclusiveness, I must say. It appears the LCR and I have different perceptions of "inclusive".

      I suppose this pretty much kills the theory of "wait n' see" as to how the campaign in the general election will develop. McCain's clearly the inferior choice in this election for anyone considering the gay rights perspective. With that said, I highly doubt that, even if the LCR retracts its endorsement, any gay Republican will not vote for McCain.

    1. Hawyer on Jun 28, 2008 4:06:15 PM:

      Chris. Chris.

      The only thing more boring than the Log Cabin Republicans is reading about the Log Cabin Republicans. Their position is the same song different verse every election.

    1. Kris Jones on Jun 28, 2008 4:48:30 PM:

      No matter the outcome. I will never vote for Socialist Obama, and Michelle his beast of a wife can both kiss my WASP ass.

      Where are Obama's parents? He must be another bastard child like Bill Clinton? Anyway he's not really African American, to be PC and clinically correct, he's a Mulito, a mixture of salt and pepa.

    1. Lucrece on Jun 28, 2008 7:50:13 PM:

      Um, you mean Mulatto, LOL. Of course, the constant negative reference to his racial background, and your "kiss my WASP" ass comment clearly gives away less than admirable qualities, if you know what I mean *wink*.

      I'm glad my theory is likely to be proven true. Despite McCain's vow to rail against same-sex marriage publicly, most gay republicans will find some rationalization to vote for him. Pitiful.

    1. Kary on Jun 28, 2008 9:22:21 PM:

      Gay Republicans are pathetic and disgusting. Voting for McCain is tantmount to a black man voting for George Wallace. McCain supports "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" for Christ's sake! You people need to go straight. How the hell do you ever get laid? Oh, I know.....you just sleep with people who have no self esteem....like yourselves.

    1. Lucrece on Jun 28, 2008 10:55:46 PM:

      That's a silly thing to say. You can be a gay republican; there are quite a few gay friendly republican candidates, just not at the senate/congress/presidential level. That's where the issue comes into play, voting for a Republican that's not gay-friendly.

    1. Hawyer on Jun 29, 2008 3:37:33 PM:

      TO: Kris Jones on Jun 28, 2008 4:48PM

      Kris - so racism is alive and well, as you so exemplify. I am of the opinion that we cannot afford racism at this critical juncture in our political landscape. No matter that you think Obama's ethnic background has deprived him of the human qualities to be president - the alternative is utterly unthinkable.

      While slavery is our collective original sin. It's handmaiden, racism, may well be the undoing of this little experiment in constitutional democracy. You, my friend (as McCain would invoke) are far more scary than Obama.

    1. Allan on Jun 30, 2008 3:06:25 AM:

      Kris Jones, I asked the Obamas if they were interested in kissing your WASP ass. They said to tell you, "Thanks but no thanks, President Clinton."

      And Obama's parents are dead and buried, as is his grandfather, the WWII veteran who was so central in Obama's upbringing that he frequently mis-speaks and refers to him as "my father" rather than "my grandfather." He did it again yesterday in addressing the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.

      Where, by the way, he kicked butt with his address, following the Crypt-Keeper as he did. Does that man really want to appear on the same stage as Obama? The Latino vote is going to be very unkind to Mr. Cindy Hensley.

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