National Commentary

Anything But Straight: Log Cabin Blues

The gay Log Cabin Republicans are broke and their party is seriously broken.

The group’s $100,000 debt comes at a time when the GOP is indebted more than ever to extremists. Instead of learning from Election Day, the party is pandering to those who believe in the “End of Days,” which will only expedite the party’s political apocalypse.

Changing demographics have transformed America into a high definition flat screen, while Republicans resemble a bulky, black and mostly white television set. With twisted antennas they can’t get clear reception, and they rotate the dilapidated dial in search of a meaningful message. Only two channels seem to break through: UHF reruns of Leave It To Beaver and the Christian Broadcasting Network’s 700 Club. This may appeal to those stuck in the past or the party “faithful,” but it’s no way to tune into tomorrow.

A microcosm of GOP madness is the race to choose a Republican National Committee chairman. One candidate, Chip Saltsman, the Tennessee party leader, handed out a Christmas CD at a holiday party that featured the song, “Barack the Magic Negro.” Saltsman told the New York Times that he believes those voting for chairman have “gotten past it.” No doubt they have – and this is the problem.

Another candidate, Katon Dawson, head of the South Carolina GOP, had to quit his membership in an all-white country club, to run for chairman of a nearly all-white country club – the RNC.

Two African Americans (Michael Steele and Kenneth Blackwell) are also contending for the prize, hoping to change the party’s image. But, even if the GOP somehow manages to overcome its poor reputation on race, it is still hostage to the whims of social conservatives. For example, Steele, former lieutenant governor of Maryland, may not get the job because he, while anti-choice, favors an exemption in cases of incest or when a woman’s life is in jeopardy.

In obsessing over such parochial issues, the Republican Party has chosen the Revival Tent over the Big Tent, at the very moment they need to appeal to moderate swing voters. Those on the party’s delusional wing are flirting with former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a conservative African American, to chair the RNC. Blackwell once compared gay people to “arsonists and kleptomaniacs,” described their lives as a “transgression against God’s law,” and believes that they can “change.” In 2004, Blackwell led the campaign to amend Ohio’s constitution to prohibit recognition of same-sex marriage or civil unions.

Those who support Blackwell foolishly believe that public relations can repair race relations and give the party a modern facade. This cynical strategy will not work any better now than it did when the Republicans elevated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. It also seems self-destructive for a party to consider a man as its leader who lost his 2006 Ohio gubernatorial race by a 24-point margin. That is not exactly “a winner.”

Furthermore, as the first African American RNC chairman, Blackwell would be compared to the far more eloquent and historic Barack Obama. While Obama focused on issues such as healthcare and the economy, Blackwell – if the past is indicative – would fixate on homosexuality and abortion. For most Americans, Obama would provide inspiration, while Blackwell would be a cause of division and irritation. If the GOP were trying to commit suicide, electing Blackwell would be the perfect poison pill to swallow.

In a sign of how lost Republicans truly are, the New York Times reported that several operatives said that the party should “seek to recover its standing among Hispanic voters.” I’m not sure how this will occur. The GOP base is virulently anti-immigration and mentions “The Wall” more often than Pink Floyd.

As if to confirm that the Republican Party is plunging to new depths, there are rumors (in jest for now) that “Joe the Plumber” may run for the U.S. Senate seat in Ohio. And, speaking of raw sewage, Ann Coulter has a detestable new book, Guilty, which reminds the nation of why conservatives have fallen out of favor.

The gay and lesbian community is poised to make an enormous amount of progress. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) told The New Yorker that he expects Congress to pass laws outlawing employment discrimination, addressing hate crimes and ending the military’s disastrous Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy.

I wish I could say that this will be a bipartisan effort – but it won’t be. It will be a majority of Democrats, with a few exceptions, overriding the objections of a Republican minority in lockstep with the Religious Right. Even if we do achieve legal equality, we will still have to endure the continued verbal abuse, humiliation, and lies spewed by some Republican members of congress.

While gay Republicans were building a Log Cabin, social conservatives built a skyscraper that blots out the sun. Until this monstrosity implodes, Log Cabin will remain in the shadows. Whether Log Cabin has money in the bank is irrelevant, as the Christian Coalition drove them out of business a long time ago.