Writing at the blog of the Independent Gay Forum, Jonathan Rauch (the author of “Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America”) links to an op-ed by Steve Lonegan, the Republican mayor of Bogota, N.J., that was published August 19 in The Record.
Rauch excerpts part of Lonegan’s op-ed:
Historically, gay Americans have struggled for the freedom to live their lives the way they choose in order to pursue happiness. This is the American Dream, the cornerstone of conservative thinking, and it is these principles that make the increasingly influential gay community the conservative movement’s natural ally.
Rauch comments, “Sadly, it is just about impossible to imagine any nationally prominent Republican, gay or straight, make that statement as opposed to the kind of statement Sen. Larry Craig made (‘I am not gay’).”
Lonegan’s op-ed was written in response to “the passing of a constituent, friend and fellow conservative who also happened to be gay.” In it, he proposes a bargain to be struck among religious conservatives and gay Americans: “Gays shouldn’t expect government to foist acceptance of their lifestyle on others; religious conservatives shouldn’t expect gays to abandon an integral part of their being.” Lonegan also writes:
Barry Goldwater once remarked that government cannot pass laws to “make people like each other.” His words still ring true today. Labeling people “homophobes” or “bigots” if they refuse to accept the entire gay agenda creates political fractures that work against individual liberties and serve to keep gay voters in the Democratic Party’s political ghetto.
The Republican Party must reestablish its commitment to the rights of the individual while respecting the moral code of one subset and upholding the freedom of another.
Conservatives have begun making a few limited defenses of Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho. Writing at The Corner, National Review’s staff blog, Jonah Goldberg says “Craig’s (alleged) behavior is terrible” but not hypocritical, despite the senator’s voting record on gay marriage and other issues. Goldberg writes:
I’d like someone to walk very slowly through the argument that it’s hypocritical to A) indulge in anonymous gay sex in seedy locations and B) oppose gay marriage. Last I checked, the common definition of hypocrisy involves saying one thing and doing another. Well, Craig wasn’t trying to marry anybody in stall #3 was he?
Goldberg adds, “That being anti-gay marriage and anti-gay are synonymous is a entirely a political argument that people are confusing for a philosophical truth.”
The real hypocrites in this scandal are the Republican senators who have called for Craig’s resignation but not for the resignation of Sen. David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, who admitted to using the services of an escort: “from any social-conservative calculus (or at least my social-conservative calculus) prostitution has to be considered a greater social evil than cruising for gay sex in bathrooms,” Douthat writes.
Douthat criticizes “the unfortunate extent to which socially-conservative politicians have focused their fire on gays, because opposing gay rights was for a long time an 80-20 issue for the Right (though no longer), while studiously ignoring the various beams in heterosexuals’ eyes.”
Douthat concludes that “[i]t’s a hard pattern to break, but the G.O.P. could find worse places to start than making sure that Vitter shares whatever political fate awaits Larry Craig.”
Now he tells us! Seven years after his first meeting with Alberto Gonzales, Robert Novak relays the news that “several Republican senators” believed in 2001 “that Gonzales was not qualified for a senior government position.” Novak writes in his Washington Post column:
I met Gonzales for the first time in 2001 when, along with other conservative journalists, I went to the White House for a background briefing on the new president’s judicial nominations by presidential counsel Gonzales. I was stunned by the incoherence of the briefer. After checking with several Republican senators, I received the same verdict. Their judgment was that Gonzales was not qualified for a senior government position.
In its third consecutive daily editorial about Senator Larry Craig, the Idaho Statesman editorial page asks Craig to resign.
“It is difficult and unpleasant to call on Idaho’s senior senator to end a career in public service. We don’t do this casually, or unanimously,” the editorial states. It continues:
However, we cannot abide an elected official who didn’t disclose a lewd conduct arrest until the story broke 77 days later — a lie by omission and a violation of the public trust. We cannot believe Craig can effectively serve Idaho, under the shadow of his guilty plea on a lesser charge of disorderly conduct. We cannot afford, as a state with but four congressional representatives, to have a senator who merely provides fodder for bloggers and late-night talk show hosts.
“Worse still, Craig’s credibility has eroded within the power structure in Washington, D.C.,” the editorial argues, later adding, “He will no longer be a spokesman for his causes, from immigration reform to seeking federal dollars for Idaho projects. He will always be seen — even if no one is so coarse as to say it — as that senator involved in that weird arrest at an airport restroom renowned as a pickup spot for anonymous sex.”
Even if Craig’s public image is now “an incomplete caricature,” by staying in office “he is contemplating a future that just doesn’t exist,” the editorial says. “The longer it takes for him to face the facts, the longer the interests of Idaho are marginalized.”
Craig has responded to the stories about his arrest by “operating from a defensive state of denial,” the editorial says. It adds, “If Craig wishes to keep his secrets, he may do so as a former U.S. senator.”