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Signorile asks 'who's next?' after Craig

And it’s a great question, because the GOP has backed itself into a corner by declaring a new standard — a misdemeanor — is sufficient grounds to run a loyal member of its party out of town when it involves even the hint of revealed homosexuality or, if you take Larry Craig’s likely viewpoint, a desire for sex with men.

Mike Signorile, in a spot-on post, notes that the swift purge of Craig was led by a man whose own sexual orientation has been questioned for years in the same way as the soon-to-be-former Idaho senator.

The New York Times reported that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell forced Larry Craig’s resignation by threatening Craig with a sensational, televised, McCarthyesque ethics investigation that could bring forth Craig’s history of prior male-on-male sexual activities and force him to answer to all the lurid details.

…If, for example, the Senate Minority Leader himself, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, were secretly gay — and there have been unsubstantiated though persistent rumors about him for many years, a la those previously unbelieveable rumors about Craig — his antigay voting record wouldn’t now be the only criteria that would make his secret homosexuality relevant. We now have him using blackmailing tactics against another senator, threatening to reveal that senator’s past homosexual activities. Certainly that would rise to the level of relevancy to report on McConnell, wouldn’t it?

At the core of this is that outing the Republican Sexual Hypocrites is going to be the internal tussle within the party. They drew the line in the sand by running Craig out of town, and some in the GOP recognize the politically dangerous (and less-than-intelligent) defensive move for what it is. Take Mike Murphy, the Republican consultant who appeared on Meet the Press (see my earlier post). He’s already trying — and failing — to convince people that the sorry state of his party when it comes to hypocrisy is the fault of others.

[T]here has been this case of bloggers on the far left trying to expose closeted politicians if they don’t fall completely into lockstep with a certain liberal gay agenda. And I think that’s unfair. It’s a form of McCarthyism, really.

Remember, the person who threatened an official investigation to — ahem — get to the bottom of Craig’s same-sex potty trolling was McConnell. And Larry Craig was shaken to his core when his colleagues came for him with the torches and pitchforks (NYT):

“Larry was shocked by the deafening silence by some and rush to judgment by others, even in his own leadership,” said the person, who is a confidant and adviser to Mr. Craig and asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the behind-scenes deliberations. “He had to evaluate what it would be like to go back into that environment.”

His friends called for his head.The purge of gays from the GOP is what the much-courted Base has also set as the new standard. Look at the Idaho Family Values Association:

Even setting Senator Craig’s situation aside, the Party should regard participation in the self-destructive homosexual lifestyle as incompatible with public service on behalf of the GOP.

That clearly goes beyond purging pols guilty of a sex-related misdemeanor — it’s specifically about homosex. Or is it? The ridiculous public claim by the defenders of sex worker customer David Vitter is that he didn’t plead guilty to the crime. OK. I’ll let’s take that at face value, since yes, Craig’s criminal intent was to have sex in a public restroom, it’s behavior that is offensive to most people who don’t expect or want to be exposed to that in a public venue. However, that’s not what the Idaho Family Values Association or the Base is drawing as a line in the sand.

The GOP is now forced to make a choice — defend its witchhunt as conditional upon whether someone is convicted of (or pleads guilty to) a tawdry misdemeanor, or affirm that same-sex illicit behavior is fine as long as you don’t get caught. I wouldn’t want to be in that slippery position with Daddy Dobson’s crowd

But back to McConnell. As Mike says, the senator’s leadership on this issue means this story has surely risen to the level that warrants MSM investigation into other similar situations.

Some will say that I should not even discuss unsubstantiated rumors and thus further them with no evidence (and let me point out that I do not have any idea if the rumors about McConnell are true). Well, to that I say the world has changed (particularly in the past week): 1) I do not believe being gay is a bad thing so I certainly don’t believe that speculating that someone is gay is a bad thing; 2) Larry Craig proved, once again, that where there is smoke (for decades, no less) there is fire. Sometimes rumors are prevalent for a reason: They are true. And lately, that seems to be the case more often than not.

Who might be next? Surely the GOP should worry about the long-standing rumors about anti-gay voting South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham that have openly swirled around DC and the Palmetto state. The same goes for the stubbornly politically closeted California Republican Congressman David Dreier, who has actually been outed (more here and here). Surely the leadership of the GOP must do something about this — or at the very least, make an official statement to the “family values” crowd that being gay is OK with the party as long as it is not publicly known to the sheeple. Anything less and their bigoted Base will continue to dog the party, or decide to stay home, disgusted that hypocritical Republicans don’t stand for their family values.

The political undercurrent here is that Mitch McConnell’s threat to Craig — an investigation that ensured additional public exposure and humiliation — is actually a signal to the rest of the conservative closet cases in the GOP’s midst — don’t get caught in a sex-sting or we’ll dump you, no matter that you loyally voted against LGBT issues. You — and your closet — are expendable. I wouldn’t want to be a Log Cabinette having to shill for these folks.

Graphic: BlogActive.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding