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Somebody Went There…

[ 48 ] October 31, 2008 |

Ahem. And ahem.

To my understanding, Mitch McConnell’s sexual orientation has been rather an open secret in the Kentucky political establishment. I tend to think that if gay Republicans maintain what amounts to a civilized stance on gay issues, then they deserve their privacy. If they dedicate their careers to making things really difficult for other gays and lesbians, then I don’t have a lot of sympathy. McConnell’s position on these questions isn’t as bad as some (he’s never, as far as I know, demagogued the issue), but it’s not good, either.

All that said, the ads linked above are pretty goddamn ugly. They do not in any manner or fashion put the drive for GLBT civil rights in a good light; in fact, just the opposite. While pointing out hypocrisy on this issue is always rather awkward, it can be done in a way that doesn’t rely on homophobia to make the point. I certainly hope that Bruce Lunsford had nothing to do with the ads. There’s no immediate reason to think that he did; AFSCME sponsored the radio version.

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Comments (48)

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  1. kid bitzer says:

    good heavens, these accusations are so despicable that we must publicize them as widely as possible!
    just to let the world know, how despicable they are!

  2. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    Indeed, kb. It would be irresponsible not to!

  3. Rob says:

    Kid,
    Fair point. It’s been a subject of debate in my Kentucky circle of friends for some time, but I didn’t expect it to come out, and certainly in not such an ugly fashion. That said, I’ve written quite a bit about the Kentucky senate election, and it seemed kind of absurd not to mention this.

  4. But does he have a black love child?!?!
    Christ, I believe in letting these hypocrites fall out of the closet in their own time. Dragging them out while screaming “Eeew! A yucky kweer,” is bullshit, pure and simple. Plus, this should rightly get any soldier booted under DADT after them.
    Idiots.

  5. ligedog says:

    That flyer is pretty horrifying – that’s the scariest tribute band I think I’ve ever seen. You sure it’s not a hoax?

  6. Peter says:

    I went to college with Mitch McConnell’s daughter. She was good friends with an ex.
    Whenever someone gets outed like this (accurately or inaccurately), I tend to think of their families and what a terribly destructive thing this outing is for all involved.
    If Mitch is gay, he doesn’t deserve this.
    If Mitch is straight, he doesn’t deserve this.

  7. cleter says:

    Well, if uh, bachelorhood, is disqualifying for GOP VP short-lister Gharlie Crist, I guess it’s disqualifying for a GOP Senate leader. I guess. Sexual orientation doesn’t bother me, but I guess for the party that thinks Barney Frank is the devil it matters. What does Lindsay Graham think of these scurrilous stories?

  8. Not cool, AFSCME.
    Supplemental question regarding Rob’s link, above. Is the rumor that Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell are gay with each other, or gay separately?

  9. phil says:

    You know, if homophobes like McConnell worked harder at defusing homophobia, these allegations would be a whole lot less devastating for outed Republicans.

  10. Mitch McConnell is a Bush-enabler of the worst sort. He’s blocked lots of things that would have helped ordinary people, and he’s promoted legislation that makes ordinary lives more difficult. He deserves anything he gets.

  11. Ivor the Engine Driver says:

    He deserves anything he gets.
    Damn right. And much worse than this.

  12. rea says:

    Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell are gay with each other
    EEEEEEK! Get that image out of my head!!

  13. Luke says:

    As a queerosexual, he deserves to be outed, and all the misery that comes with it.
    He’s made his bed, and he’s going to get screwed over in it.

  14. eric says:

    So Elaine Chao is a beard? I must admit I find that slightly amusing.
    But I agree that the ads are inappropriate, and I’m not happy to see AFSCME (which I used to represent when I practiced law) playing this game.

  15. TBogg says:

    But…but…he’s married to Elaine! Does this mean he doesn’t Chao down on her?
    Oh god. I just made myself gag.

  16. RobertDSC says:

    The first ad I don’t have a problem with. The second, way off target. Terrible.

  17. Mrs Tilton says:

    Comrade B.,
    He deserves anything he gets
    Yes; yes he does. But that’s not the point, and (I truly hope) you know it.
    I hope and trust that the entire non-asshole population yearns for the day when sexual orientation is a matter of precisely no relevance in public life. But, when that happy day arrives, it will mean (if it means anything at all) that even assholes get to be gay without that being used as a weapon against them.
    Is McConnell an asshole? Yes in italics. Is he gay? I don’t know, and I don’t care. But if he is, and if that’s the worst charge his opponents can bring against him, then only a Republican could think he deserves defeat.

  18. But…but…he’s married to Elaine! Does this mean he doesn’t Chao down on her?
    Oh god. I just made myself gag.

    Serves you right. [Urp]
    Here’s the thing, if this is the equivalent of “OMG, he’s got a black love child!” Then it sucks hard because it is only intended to play on people’s homophobia, just as the rumor about McPOW was only intended to play on people’s racism. If it is true, I still don’t see how it’s relevant, so it still sucks.
    Plus, intentional outings always get the outee some sympathy.

  19. cleter says:

    Wait, McConnell is gay, AND married? Zuh? How can that be? I thought gay people couldn’t marry. I’m confused.

  20. DJA says:

    The “charge” isn’t that Mitch McConnel is gay. It’s that he’s a giant hypocrite. He is a key leader in a party that has never hesitated to stoke the flames of homophobia for political gain — again and again and again. I don’t think the ads are out of line and I don’t feel the slightest bit sorry for him. You reap what you sow.

  21. Hogan says:

    He deserves anything he gets.
    No doubt. But I wish it weren’t my union giving it to him.

  22. Rob says:

    DJA,
    The charge in the ads isn’t that he’s a hypocrite. It’s that he’s gay. Thus the “straight” underlined, and the Village People bit.

  23. Lee says:

    Also as a gay person, I have to chime in with others saying boo f***ing hoo. He and his cohorts in the Republican party have made life as much a living hell as they can for gays in the US.
    He was elected along with Reagan originally. The Republican party left gays to die of AIDS, they’ve used us as bait to get elected over and over and over again. And I’m supposed to feel bad that someone might expose the hypocrisy? Pfft.
    If he and his party had taken a stand or even acknowledged that gays deserve the same rights as everyone else, then maybe this wouldn’t even be an issue. Maybe he could have come out sooner on his own terms. So yeah, bite me Mitch.

  24. DJA says:

    Rob, I understand that. My point is that the hypocrisy is what makes it entirely justified to out prominent anti-gay gay Republicans like McConnell.

  25. Jeff Rubard says:

    As has already been pointed out by representatives of gay media traditions, this post is “straight-but-not-narrow” concern-trolling by ‘liberal’ ‘Democrats’ happy to have McConnell in the liberal-Republican closet. Were McConnell to have sucked cock and beaten the draft, he would have been following the advice of the real left at the time: if he and Elaine Chao “have an understanding” which of course does not include normal marital duties, the spirit of tolerance does not require us to get quite as ‘sexological’ as this line of reasoning tends towards.
    Of course, he could have accomplished all of this as an ex-congressman, and a radio ad which says in traditional American idiom that he is dishonest and an unclaimed poster are poor reasons for friends of lesbians, gays, and whatever to get all giddy about smacking down what has been sharp union support for Demos this time around.

  26. Henry Holland says:

    ^^ What Lee said at 10:30 pm. I have no qualms whatsoever about the tactics that people like McConnell, Graham and Dreier (among many others) have used –innuendo, smears, out and out hate– rebounding on them. I’ve been out since the late 70′s, lost jobs and “friends” and the whole dreary, tiresome litany, while scum like them live the high life of a politician and actively work to make my life miserable. Fuck ‘em all, I hope they have horrible, miserable 2009′s, full of scandal and shame and tears and utter personal destruction, the lot of ‘em.

  27. “Don’t vote for Mitch because he’s a fag” does not seem like progress.

  28. DJA says:

    Look, when Bill Bennett was outed as a compulsive gambler, I didn’t feel bad that he was being punished for engaging in behavior that was not, in fact, morally bad. I rejoiced like a motherfucker to see that hypocritical bastard hoist by his own petard.
    Same deal here.

  29. wengler says:

    The radio ad is not bad. The flyer is.
    The radio ad is pushing people to ask questions. The flyer is basically answering them. Homophobia kills people in this country. People like McConnell use people’s homophobic views to his advantage. The Democratic tactic is to use those homophobic voters as a wedge against him. Frankly, this also means that McConnell is untrustworthy and a liar.
    If we lived in a society where being gay was boring instead of menacing, McConnell would be a gay race baiting, reverse-Robin Hood free trading, Ayn Rand loving corporate Republican along with his partner whoever that may be. The only difference is that stuff like this wouldn’t matter.

  30. Mrs Tilton says:

    Lookit, all of yiz happy to see the shoe on McConnell’s other foot:
    SCHADENFREUDE — UR DOIN IT WRONG!
    Let’s assume arguendo that outing is a legitimate tactic. (I can see merit to both sides of that argument; in principle I’m against, but can see the point of the other side at least with respect to closet gays who actively further anti-gay discrimination and homophobia.) But wherever you stand on the question, let’s make that assumption here because it allows us to focus on this crucial question: can those of you who support the ads (especially if you’re gay yourself) really not see the difference between these two approaches:

    “McConnell. Likes him some man-lovin’, apparently, NTTAWWT. But then why on earth has he cast the following anti-gay votes — [insert list]. Why has he said these hateful things abut gays — [insert list]? Teh Gay: not a problem. Teh Hypocrisy: big problem. Vote Lunsford!”

    – versus –

    “ZOMG McConnell smokes the bone! Aiyee! Gay cooties!!!!111!! Don’t vote for him or maybe we’ll all catch TEH GAY!!!!!!11!!!!111!!!1! OH NOES!!!”

    This is not about whether McConnell is a good guy (He’s not.) It’s not about whether he deserves any sympathy. (He doesn’t.) It’s not even about whether, if these ads mean he’s not re-elected, that would be a bad thing. (His failure would of course be a good thing, viewed in vacuuo.)
    It’s about this: people who try to win elections by using homophobic slurs (or racist or ethnic or religious or anti-atheist slurs) are scumbags, even on those rare occasions when they’re not Republicans.

  31. John Emerson says:

    I’ll know better what I think about this after the election. Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman is well-known to be gay, and to my knowledge Al Franken has not used that against him. (Besides his orientation, Coleman also is on public record as an obnoxious dopesmoking hippy riot organizer.)
    Meanwhile Coleman has run an intensely negative campaign of character assassination against Al Franken: “Al Franken: Unfit for Office” is the explicit theme. Some of it is misrepresentation of facts, some of it is based on 30 year old comedy routines, some of it involved distorted photographs, etc.
    All of the stuff about Coleman is out there (Garrison Keillor made some allusions after the 2002 election that took Franken to the Senate), but it isn’t known to most of the electorate, and Franken hasn’t even hinted at it to my knowledge.
    So anyway, if Franken wins, OK. Minnesota does tend to frown on negative campaigning, but this race is very close.
    If Coleman wins again, though, we’ll be in a situation where the high road is a loser, and where a (gay, right-to-life) character assassin gets a free ride to the Senate because the other side wasn’t willing to play the game.

  32. John Emerson says:

    I’ll know better what I think about this after the election. Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman is well-known to be gay, and besides that, Coleman also is on public record as having been an unusually obnoxious dopesmoking hippy riot organizer.)
    All of that stuff has been out there for some time (Garrison Keillor made some allusions after the 2002 election that took Franken to the Senate), but it isn’t known to most of the electorate, and Franken hasn’t even hinted at it to my knowledge.
    Meanwhile Coleman has run an intensely negative campaign of character assassination against Al Franken: “Al Franken: Unfit for Office” is Coleman’s primary theme. Some of it is misrepresentation of facts, some of it is based on 30 year old comedy routines, some of it involved distorted photographs, etc.
    So anyway, if Franken wins, OK. Minnesota does tend to frown on negative campaigning, but this race is very close.
    If Coleman wins again, though, we’ll be in a situation where the high road is a loser once more, and a (gay, right-to-life) character assassin will get another free ride to the Senate because his opponents weren’t willing to play the game.
    I’m not sure that the incentives for decency are in place in politics, not even in Minnesota. Historically that’s hardly surprising.

  33. John Emerson says:

    Second take, please. I revised when the first one didn’t show up.

  34. jacob says:

    Folks, this isn’t an outing. It’s telling people not to vote for a candidate because he’s gay.
    I’m perfectly fine with outing people who are happy to be gay privately but want to punish other people for their sexuality–or who, put another way, are willing to use their class privilege to obtain the rights that they deny others based on their sexuality. Outing gay Republicans helps the cause not because it gets rid of gay Republicans, but because it encourages all gay politicians to stand up for gay rights.
    But this isn’t outing. What makes this despicable is that it puts back the cause, encourages and reifies homophobia, and tells people to vote against a candidate simply because he’s gay.
    I don’t like (or understand) black Republicans any more than I like or understand gay Republicans. (I don’t like straight, white Republicans either.) But I wouldn’t want Democrats to mount Jesse Helms-style “black hands” ads, either.

  35. jacob says:

    Sorry: I posted without reading Mrs Tilton, who said roughly the same thing I did, but earlier and better.

  36. anonymous says:

    I’ll know better what I think about this after the election. Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman is well-known to be gay, and to my knowledge Al Franken has not used that against him.
    Norm Coleman is bisexual and had an affair with a post-op transsexual friend of mine. She told me about it.

  37. Luke Shaul says:

    It matters to those of us who are expected to have and raise our own children a certain way so we can send them off to war for these people. If they have not been leading by example we have a problem. Just ask the fathers and mothers of the dead and injured who we have sent to war.

  38. celticdragon says:

    “Norm Coleman is bisexual and had an affair with a post-op transsexual friend of mine. She told me about it.”
    ************************
    WTF?????
    Care to expand on that?
    Full disclosure on my part…I’m a trans woman as well, although I can’t imagine having a relationship with Norm Coleman. *gags, looks for sink or toilet, runs away with hands over mouth…*

  39. John Emerson says:

    I can’t see how anyone of any gender would want to have a relationship with Coleman. He has a sickly unappealingness which I think is pretty much independent of gender-identity questions.

  40. aimai says:

    To a certain extent all these married gay republicans have already made their sexuality an issue–by faking it. If a politician offers up his heterosexuality as proof that he’s worth voting for–and they almost all do except for the few, the brave, the wonderful like our barney frank–then outing them is perfectly reasonable. Its like slapping a “this product made in factories that also produce nut based products” label on an otherwise anonymous and potentially misleading treat. I don’t see the difference between “outing” for cause and “outing” for destructive purposes. If the politician has been relying, implicitly or explicitly, on the votes of homophobes that’s his problem with his slice of the electoral pie.
    aimai

  41. Let’s be honest – McConnell is a hypocrite of the first order. It’s also largely true that, if outed, his snake-handling supporters would turn on him not for the hypocrisy, but for teh gay.
    But at this point, do I care? I have seen hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, and thousands of our soldiers, die because of the actions of McConnell and his ilk. I have seen the federal bench filled with barely-literate authoritarians. I have seen my country go back to torturing other human beings.
    In a just world, McConnell would be taking tolls on a highway somewhere in the heartland. He needs to be taken out of the Senate, whatever the tactic required.
    See what the last 8 years has done to me?

  42. celticdragon says:

    “In a just world, McConnell would be taking tolls on a highway somewhere in the heartland. He needs to be taken out of the Senate, whatever the tactic required.”
    *******************************
    Not quite. Fliers that veritably scream “He’s a QUEER! FAGGOT!!! FUCKING FAGGOT!!” may indeed cost McConnell his seat, but they do an awful lot to reinforce hate against pretty much any other GLBT person, like myself. I don’t really need that. He has a record that can run against. Use that, if you like. Leave bigotry out of it.

  43. DocAmazing says:

    He has a record that can run against. Use that, if you like.
    Unfortunately, that doesn’t cut any ice with homophobic voters. Most are simply too stupid to follow a politician’s history or use it to predict what said politician might do next. Bigots and idiots vote based on gut sensation. Outing/slurring McConnell evokes a negative gut sensation in these people.
    I believe it was Mencken who said “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” However, many a candidate has lost by attempting to appeal to that intelligence.

  44. DocAmazing says:

    Ah, piss. Open tags, and on All Saints’ Day, yet.

  45. mcsey says:

    I remember when ??? ran radio ads like this against former Illinois Rep Lane Evans. People were so disgusted by the ads that a close race went easily to Evans.

  46. Matt McIrvin says:

    It’s exactly the same issue as going after loathsome right-wing women with sexist attacks. Sure, you want to use every weapon at your disposal, especially in a close race, and maybe the target deserves it. But the other targets of the same bigotry don’t deserve it. My understanding is that being publicly gay can be pretty physically dangerous in Kentucky. People get beaten up and murdered for being gay. You don’t want to make it even more dangerous by actively sowing homophobia, even if you think winning will be marginally better for LGBT people.

  47. Pyre says:

    So if the union brings up this candidate’s being gay as the reason to vote against him… does that mean the union is opposed to gays holding office?

  48. Martin Wisse says:

    Even if that flyer is homophobic, so what? The people most likely to vote for this creep are also the people most likely to be turned against him by him being gay, so hoist him on his own petard.

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