Monday, March 05, 2007

... Will Need to Get Over Their Issues ...

I wrote something for the blog over the weekend, and decided to sit on it.

I had written about Ann Coulter calling John Edwards a "faggot" at the Conservative Political Action Conference, with most of the Republican presidential hopefuls in the audience. I had seen the video, heard the people cheering, clapping. Saw that the news media chose to ignore the incident, saw that the Republican hopefuls' statements were tepid to weak.

I compared her outburst to Tourette's syndrome, and put it in a context of people who say anything, the more disgusting and inappropriate the better, just because they can. I wrote about Alberto Gonzales saying he'd never fire anybody for political reasons; the Vice President saying that the war in Iraq is a "remarkable achievement;" the administration saying that the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq is "basically a good news story." It's like they'll say anything, and those uncritical people who follow them will believe it, and figure out ways to justify whatever counterfactual thing was said.

I was not seeing this tendency as a good sign for America's future. You might say.

But over the weekend, a kind of dawning may have taken place.

Gay conservative (whatever "conservative" means any more) blogger Andrew Sullivan commented on Friday:
"I was going to talk about John Edwards but these days, you have to go into rehab if you say the word 'faggot,'" - Ann Coulter, cheered to the rafters at CPAC today. No wonder she and Mickey Kaus get along so well.

When you see her in such a context, you realize that she truly represents the heart and soul of contemporary conservative activism, especially among the young. The standing ovation for Romney was nothing like the eruption of enthusiasm that greeted her. One young conservative male told her he was single and asked for her cell-phone number. Other young Republicans were almost overwhelmed in her presence. "When are you going to get your own show?" one asked, tremulously. Then there's her insistence on Christianism as the central message for Republicans: "There are more people voting on Christian moral values than on tax cuts." This from an unmarried woman who wears dresses that are close to bikinis on the morning news. Hey, it's Democrats who are Godless. Coulter In Her Element

Sullivan is in a unique position to comment.

This is what it's all about these days for the GOP, this is what they've got. Ann Coulter.

"Captain Ed" Morrissey at Captain's Quarters normally goose-steps right along with the rest of the radical right, but this time he had this to say:
At some point, Republicans will need to get over their issues with homosexuality. Regardless of whether one believes it to be a choice or a hardwired response, it has little impact on anyone but the gay or lesbian person. We can argue that homosexuality doesn't require legal protection, but not when we have our front-line activists referring to them as "faggots" or worse. That indicates a disturbing level of animosity rather than a true desire to allow people the same rights and protections regardless of their lifestyles.

He updated that post with some explanation, basically trying to draw a distinction between "having the right" to say something, and saying something that is right. And then the hard part: trying to explain to his readers why he has the freedom of speech to criticize somebody like Coulter -- a tough dilemma for those authoritarian sheep, who consider disloyalty a far worse sin than lying (which many do not consider objectionable at all, if it advances the cause). You can feel the pain as he tries to explain why it might be necessary for conservative Tourettes patients like Ann Coulter to take their meds.
Bottom line: Coulter's remark was indefensible. She had the right to say it, but that doesn't make her right for saying it, and she deserves every bit of criticism she's getting.

The Republican Party built up a shaky base, it appears to me, by combining two disparate groups of Americans: rich capitalists and wannabes, and religious fanatics. The good thing about the fanatics, from the GOP's point of view, was that there were a lot of them, and they were ... how shall I say this? ... not very quick. Easy to manipulate. You could tell them you were going to do something, and then never do it, and after awhile they'd forget you'd said it. Just roll your eyes heavenward occasionally and they'll eat out of your hand.

This amalgam of big money and betterthanyou religiosity was good for getting some greedy people elected, but it didn't turn out to be very good for running a country. And now they're not in very good shape. Of course it's not my place to advise them, but ... I'd say they need another plan.

The cynical ones figured out how to exploit the gullible ones by manipulating their fear and anger. They have taught people to hate the Muslims, hate the gays, hate the liberals, to hate X as much as Y, Massachusetts as much as France, and now they have to live with that.

But it seems to me that even the most rabid conservatives, the ones who are somewhat serious about it, are ready to say: At some point, Republicans will need to get over their issues with homosexuality. And that means the smart ones are going to have to pull away from the others. An Ann Coulter has no place in civilized politics. Never mind the rest of them, the Fox guys and the rightwing radio guys. They're good for shepherding the gullible, but it runs out even the most committed conservatives can be embarrassed by the ignorance.

Our problem, here in Montgomery County, is that diverse people are trying to work out a way to educate our children, while a bunch of Tourettes patients sit at the table yelling random obscenities. Is it possible that the conservatives may realize that this is not working for them? I mean, really, is it possible? I think citizens who are more liberal in their views and those who are more conservative can probably find a lot of common ground, we all want to see our children grow up happy and safe and smart; but this twitchy background noise makes it impossible for anybody to talk about it.


Blogger digger said...

People with Tourette's have tics they can not control. People such as Ann Coulter and Peter LaBarbera are simply egotistical and uncivil.

Our conference this weekend for LGBT and allied youth in Virginia was a great success, with approximately 140 youth attending, including 12 from Montgomery county. The students from Maryland contributed much to the discussion on GSA activities and youth leadership that I conducted, and represented Montgomery County as a progressive, inclusive environment.

We as adults can do much to influence school policy, but the youth in schools make the most difference in changin hearts and minds.


March 05, 2007 5:37 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...


I will say that it IS possible. When Pastor Rick Bowers waited to embrace me after my testimony to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, I realized that. We can find common ground. If I can connect with Rick Bowers, and Don Dwyer, on some level, on some issue (and an issue of sexuality, at that), then it IS possible.

March 05, 2007 7:04 PM  

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