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The Republican Closet That Won't Stay Closed

Memo Pad Politics

The Republican Closet That Won't Stay Closed


If these are the last weeks of Rick Perry’s ridiculous presidential campaign, his desperation is turning him into a nasty clown indeed. By publicly attacking the gays and lesbians who have chosen to serve their country in uniform, the Texas Governor seems to have gained ground in Iowa. But at what cost did he win a few points that still leave him well below the top tier? His pollster and consultant Tony Fabrizio has been “outed,” rightly or wrongly — and worse still, the swinging closet door of the Republican Party has been flung open again. Who else will be found inside?

From the days of the Cold War, when reigning mischief-maker Roy Cohn was bedding boys and denouncing gays as “sissies,” through the hidden homosexual history that leads from Marvin Liebman, co-founder of the National Review to Arthur Finkelstein, the ad man behind the Eighties conservative revival, to the defection of former “hit man” David Brock, to Ken Mehlman, the Bush-era party chairman who didn’t dare (until recently) to speak of his own true nature, and even Karl Rove, who ran gay-baiting campaigns despite his own father’s orientation, Republicans have repeatedly watched their own intellectual and political leaders embarrassed by what emerges from that capacious closet. In Fabrizio’s case, he was pushed out by GOProud, an organization of right-leaning gays, when its leader Jimmy DeSalvia complained on a message board about the latest Perry ad, which says there’s “something wrong” in America when gays can serve “openly” in the military but children cannot pray in public schools.

Joe Conason

A highly experienced journalist, author and editor, Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo, founded in July 2011. He was formerly the executive editor of the New York Observer, where he wrote a popular political column for many years. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and his reporting and writing have appeared in many publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Harpers.

Since November 2006, he has served as editor of The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalism center, where he has assigned and edited dozens of award-winning articles and broadcasts. He is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Hunting of the President (St. Martins Press, 2000) and Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martins Press, 2003).

Currently he is working on a new book about former President Bill Clinton's life and work since leaving the White House in 2001. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, and lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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  1. MikeGhouse December 13, 2011

    We have to speak out against all bigotry.

    Mike Ghouse
    Committed to building a cohesive America
    America together foundation

  2. giudittamaria December 13, 2011

    Somehow we must convince the population that the Republicans primary objective is to block Obama’s every attempt to stop the raping of the country’s economy…especially that of the middle-class. Are they so ignorant that they don’t realize the culmination of all their dirty work will also affect their pocketbooks too?

  3. Berto December 13, 2011

    I am baffled by the Republican’s. Do they really think everyone has forgotten their role in this down economy? And, do you think that the dumbing down of America will continue to work for you?
    We moderates are watching your clown show. All you are accomplishing is making us vote AGAINST your candidates!

  4. Detergent Insurgent December 13, 2011

    Growing up in Texas during the 1950s & 60s bigotry was openly insitutionalized. We did not have African American classmates until the 7th grade. Hispanic Americans attended classes with us. But even then there was an undertow of unequality. Today the Republican Party’s base is the “Old South” where many of the Vines of Hate bloom. While many may have policy issues with President Obama, around here The Tea Party’s agenda is motivated by is his “race”. There is a new “Civil War” being fought on right wing TV and radio. Until we enter the fray no real change is probable.

  5. kwkurtz44 December 13, 2011

    I’ll bet you $10,000 he didn’t mean it to come out that way. (All puns intended.)

    He was trying to defend prayer in public schools; he probably does not necessarily have a problem with Gays serving in the military, but thinks we should not have a problem with prayer in schools.

    Yep, he is trying so hard for the Evangelical vote, he is willing to throw us all under the bus.

    Why can’t they understand an elected official is supposed to represent ALL of their constituents. Bringing religion into the equasion will always make that impossible.
    Are there any religions that teach the acceptance and tolerance of others beliefs? Now do any of those actually practice what they preach?

  6. rustacus21 December 13, 2011

    … that a conservative “bashes” gays? No, really? Of what importance is it, to a demographic that sways in the wind, w/no real political loyalty or virtuous ideology & views politics, for the most part, the way conservatives do – opportunistically? Is this also why so many conservatives are “closet” gays themselves? While bashing gays, merely for political points? This is the twisted sickness infecting the republican party, our politics & our society, across the board. As a personal “issue”, being “gay”, unlike being “Black”, or being “female” or being a “veteran” should create no more of a special circumstance, in a civic dialogue or policy consideration… EXCEPT when it becomes institutional – i.e., (racist) taking tax dollars from poor, inner city public schools, to subsidize rich private school attendance; or off-shoring jobs in order to union-BUST, b/c non-Whites (specifically African-Americans, who are exclusively & once again, victimized by a manufactured economic crisis, that was COMPLETELY foreseeable & AVOIDABLE!) have made (economic) mobility gains, via Democracy in the workplace (i.e., UNIONS!); or (sexist w/) women paying above & beyond what men pay for health insurance, lose jobs (post-maternity leave) & promotions, simply b/c they’re female? These are “circumstances” which require a racist or sex biased pathology. Being gay can & IS hidden & concealed & is acted upon/against, ONLY when revealed. A choice, in other words! Of which women & non-Whites simply DO NOT HAVE THE LUXURY OF ENJOYING! We need to stop enabling the whimpering about being “teased” & allow those indulging in self-pity & secrecy, to grow up!!! Of course some of this goes byond teasing, but Perry is a showman & sensation-seeker. But what’s in his “closet”…?

  7. dawnowens December 13, 2011

    Their fake, made up out of thin air religion perpetuates this crap. Instead of thinking maybe their god made some people prefer homosexuality (nice natural population control), they decide they get to be ‘holier than thou’ and discriminate. The very un-Jesus-like hate is barely hidden. This, while they are praying to a guy who ran around with a group of men who all slept together…

    To answer an above question, there is one religion that is accepting of gays, lesbians, and transgendered people, the Unitarian Universalists. They also, not surprisingly, have the highest percentage of educated people of any of the religions. Perry is not a member…

  8. FranceneBotts-Butler December 13, 2011

    This fall has been painful listening to the Republican/Tea Party candidates vying for the Republican nomination. When did we start electing people just because they said they were God-fearing, family oriented, outside the Washington Belt line candidates? Is it just me, or is this crop of possibles just plain dumb? Perry, Bachman, et.al. Would probably throw their mothers under the bus to gain a couple of votes or a couple of points in a poll. I remember that the economic downshift, the war in Iraq/Afghanistan , started when George W. Bush was President. I will be voting in November, but none of these antics matter to me. Romney- you have been professional so far, please, please don’t start the pathetic back and forth with Newt. He will implode.

  9. InWonderLand December 13, 2011

    Was your reference to Roy Cohn written knowingly or just ironic? Was it commonly discussed in Austin is the sexual orientation of Perry himself. I wouldn’t have a problem at all if the many rumors of his being gay is true but it is the hypocrisy of it that is intolerable.

  10. terango.lf December 13, 2011

    Perry is so retro! That campaign was so 2004 election. When King Karl Rove literaly mailed fliers to my Hill-Billy brethern to frighten the populace to believe that Kerry was going to force people to have Gay Shotgun Weddings, then confiscate the shotgun and then use it to shoot all copies of the Bible out of all libraries. Oh, those were the days! Fear and ignorance ruled supreme.

  11. RonMidgett December 13, 2011

    Some christian denominations teach and practice tolerance of all people regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, or ethnicity. Unfortunately, we are hearing from the religious right that has a deep fear of anything different.

    It is so sad that the continual preaching of fear by the republicans of anything different leads to bigotry, intolerance, and injustice. Unfortunately, the campaigns run by George W. were all driven by fear and proved that you could win elections by using fear. Of course, the same tactic was used by Hilter to gain power…how easily we forget the lessons of history.

    Personally, I am Buddhist. Buddhism is a philosophy that is grounded in tolerance and total acceptance of anyone who wishes to practice.

  12. wizardjunk December 13, 2011

    I am amazed every election cycle about how the republicans try to dupe us. They all try to blame Obama but funding the pentegon and fighting two wars for nothing is why we’re here.

  13. crockerherrick December 13, 2011

    What’s ridiculous is a mainstream media that refuses to recognize that this election isn’t about Republicans, it’s about Obama and his total failure as a president. I listened to the new Perry ad a few times trying to find the part where he “bashes” homosexuals and I don’t hear it.

  14. rustacus21 December 14, 2011

    … in order to get a “straight” answer, is like pulling doberman canines. I’ve never heard a conservative yet explain the “failure” part of the Obama presidency! Is it the part where legislation is locked up so tight, it can’t make it to a vote? Or is it the fillibustering of legislation crucial to the American jobless? Or is it the conservative debt, built up over 8 years of the last administration, that the current tax cuts continues adding 100’s of billions of dollars to in each of the last 2 years of the Obama presidency? GM, Crysler, new Green energy firms, R&D breakthru’s & entrepreneurs have been doing their best, but conservatives won’t let them. Sounds to me like more conservative mixed up facts, w/fantasy…

  15. jack213 December 14, 2011

    Concur completely with rustacus21 re republican lack of a definitive explanation of President Obama’s failures. It appears that the bandits (George Bush administration) have exploited the victim(us) by involving us in an unnecessary war in Iraq which has siphoned off our surplus and caused millions of casualties/deaths and then blames the rescuer(Obama) for the predicament while impeding any and all attempts to revive the victim. There is criminality here of war crime dimension coupled with traitorous obstruction. The republicans seem hell-bent on destroying the country to satisfy their deep seated hatred of President Obama.

  16. k.drone December 14, 2011

    Rick Perry is basically baiting prior to election, fishing for respones. Almost all Republicans do this and Democrats have their prowess they use to manipulate “liberals” its not a one sided tactical maneuver, Republicans take far too much credit for being insidious and intentional. Rick Perry mind you was once a Democrat. Imagine that. I find abortion and pro life as baiting as well, Republicans go looking for trouble Democrats pretend the opposite.
    Shits tired and old news, but believe it or not “we” as a cultural movement siding with anti-discriminatory rights, and homosexual relations have arrived at a point in history where being “gay” or even bashing is considered unacceptable, alas remember in the 1950’s there were no “gay” people, as in most area’s supposedly it did not exist. We have progressed as a “free” country surely but slowly.
    My real main concern isn’t for Rick Perry or Santorum for this matter, its those people such as lets say the open and gay social worker in Indiana a few years back, that was beat, and burned alive in his car off a forest preserve by a bunch of males that killed him for being “gay”. See as a possible legal representative and individual to assist the public or common good, people like Rick Perry and his ignorant methods, allow the room for people such as the males whom killed the social worker-to feel justified. This is why Rick Perry and every single goddamn idiot, that steps into a campaign or attempts to land a public position, needs to be fired, sued, publicly humiliated and removed following, and thats that. I see him and their likes using very poor judgement when detailing laws, if they have no complete understanding of discrimination in the first place.
    HOWEVER-Dick Cheney, liberal enemy #1 did admit to loving his lesbian daughter and showed support for homosexuals. Karl Rove I beleive changed his tune after 2008. So there’s “hope” for people who care for their families in some way shape or form. One day in the near future this sort of conversation will be a thing of the past, what some my not realize is finally finally America is becoming a free country for all.

  17. jwozniak December 14, 2011

    This is exactly what happens when your entire worldview is based upon hatred, paranoia, and a complete and utter lack of compassion. You and your minions begin turning on each other, to largely comic effect to those of us who aren’t part of your, um, pogrom. Apparently, Mr. Parry has learned nothing from the behavior of mentally ill dictators through history. Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot are merely letter bombs the Tea Party elite like to hurl at their opponents without having a deep, knowledge-based understanding of their meaning. They act like a bunch of pre-pubescent kiddies on a playground, trying to out-gross each other.


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