CommunityPam's House Blend

F*ck that, Bill Clinton

Well isn’t this special? NYT:

Former President Bill Clinton unleashed an attack yesterday against a gay Republican strategist who has plans to work against Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s re-election, suggesting that the man may be “self-loathing” to work on behalf of the Republican Party.

…The former president noted that an earlier article over the weekend reported that Mr. Finkelstein had married his male partner in a civil ceremony at his home in Massachusetts, then he alluded to the Republican Party’s use of the same-sex marriage issue to mobilize conservative voters.

“Either this guy believes his party is not serious and he’s totally Machiavellian,” Mr. Clinton said, or “he may be blinded by self-loathing.” Mr. Finkelstein, a reclusive former adviser to Gov. George E. Pataki, did not respond to a message left at his office seeking a comment on Mr. Clinton’s remarks. But his allies quickly did.

…The spectacle of the former president coming to the defense of his wife, a tough politician in her own right, generated considerable buzz in political circles, particularly since Mr. Clinton has tried to keep a low profile and stay out of Mrs. Clinton’s way since she took office.

He can talk tough when defending his wife, but when it came to defend the right of gay people, even self-loathing Finklestein, to marry — he threw us under the bus for political expediency. He’s the man that gave us “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act, empowering the Repugs to take gay-bashing to the next level.

…And then he told Kerry in 2004 to support the state marriage amendments in order to gain votes.

And as the clock is ticking…

* gays can still legally be fired from a job
* a transgender person can most certainly get the crap beaten out of them or worse in many parts of the country
* gays cannot adopt in many places
* gay couples in several states now cannot form private legal agreements and health care POA because of state amendments

And on the marriage front:

New constitutional bans: Voters passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage last year in 13 states: Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah.

Older constitutional bans: Gay marriage bans already existed in the constitutions of four states: Alaska, Hawaii, Nebraska and Nevada.

Laws that prohibit: The following states have laws on the books (but not in their constitutions) prohibiting gay marriage: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

For all the gains that have been made, city by city, state by state, there are thousands of gay people that have lost rights in those states that passed amendments. Those laws have jeopardized partner benefits and legal arrangements to protect gay relationships that married people take for granted.

Bill Clinton and his DLC legacy resulted in a Democratic Party with lack of desire/inability to reframe any issues regarding gay rights, save a few brave souls, like Mel Watt. The silence is deafening. His 2004 advice to Kerry was telling.

Clinton’s actions gave the Right permission to make gays the whipping boy for electoral success. It only served him to call out gay-baiting when his wife was involved.

Sorry, Bill, f*ck that. You and Finkelstein just have more in common on this front than you’re copping to.

***

I’m not letting Finkelstein off the hook; he is about as nasty and right wing as they come on the campaign trail. Finkelstein has a history of hardball politics, working with Jesse Helms on his Senate run against Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt.

I was living in NC during this time period, and it was the nastiest, most racist campaign the GOP has seen in a lifetime. It was a close race (Gantt leading 47-45 percent), until Finkelstein ran the infamous “white hands commercial” showing a close up pair of a flannel-shirtsleeved hands crumpling a job pair of white hands crumpling a termination notice, with an ominous voiceover explaining that a well-deserved job went to someone else because of affirmative action. This appealed to the blue collar, textile working folks in the rural areas, and Helms won handily. Here’s a quote from local gay activist Mandy Carter from 1996:

All this from a politician whose main strategist during his first run for Senate – as well as last time – was Arthur Finkelstein. Who? You know, the guy who lives with his male partner and their two adopted children. It’s not a secret or anything. “The height of hypocrisy,” snaps Mandy Carter, campaign coordinator of NC Mobe. “I just don’t get Finkelstein, but Helms? This is the one who claims not to know anyone gay, swears he’d never hire anyone who is and opposes gays adopting children. And yet he retains a gay advisor. What does that tell us?”

What it tells us today is that Jesse does know someone gay — his own granddaughter, Jennifer Helms Knox, a district court judge here in NC.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding