GOProud Showed Up. Which Is Very Good, But…
This commentary reflects the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin
February 20th, 2010
Alexander McCobin, at Students for Liberty, welcomed GOProud to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) amid cheers and boos.
Ryan Sorba, of the Young Conservatives of California, responded by denouncing CPAC amid boos and cheers.
For some reason, it’s often the gays who start the hottest trends in this country. The Republican Party’s acrimonious split between the traditional followers of John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine and other believers of individual freedom, and the emerging purer-than-thou wing who today would be loudly lamenting the absence of a “real Republican” if Ronald Reagan himself were alive and running for office — like so many popular trends in America — is just an imitation of what the gays had already started. It was just last April when a group of Log Cabin Republican dissidents split off to form GOProud over the former group’s perceived lack of ideological purity.
But despite GOProud’s purer-than-pure stance, it’s still regarded as being outside the mainstream among other purer-than-pure ideologues who are, in addition, also non-believers in individual freedom. But that didn’t stop GOProud from becoming sponsors of that annual purer-than-pure ideological love-fest known that is CPAC in Washington, D.C. This marks the first time a gay group has been a co-sponsor of the event. It also marks the first appearance of the John Birch Society as a co-sponsor, which had always been excluded for being too extremist.
But while the Birchers were allowed to parade around in their tinfoil hats, the GOProuders would not have a platform to to speak about gay issues at the conference. Outside of their booth with the other exhibitors, their only planned contribution that I’ve been able to discern was a talk about “Using Technology to Mobilize Conservatives.” Other than that, their message was limited to their booth.
Silence appears to be the price of admission. GOProud’s Twitter stream and web site have been uncomfortably silent over the wacky news conference at CPAC over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Okay, there hasn’t been complete silence, at least not when a good opportunity for spin comes along. Bruce Carroll, aka GayPatriot, giddily twittered, “Nation\’s most vocal supporter of gay marriage & removing Don\’t Ask, Don\’t Tell speaks at #CPAC10 – DICK CHENEY! HA.” Except Cheney didn’t utter a single peep about gay marriage or DADT. Chris Crain responds, “Gentlemen… please… we can hold the bar higher than this, can’t we?”
But as we all have come to know, it’s not enough for the purest of the purer-than-pure crowd to have us agree to shut up about our issues and rah-rah conservatism in general. It’s our mere presence, and even our very existence, that many find so horribly offensive. And that offense was on display yesterday when Ryan Sorba decided to go after CPAC for GOProud’s quiet existence. When he was boo’ed, Bruce Carroll (aka GayPatriot) celebrated, saying that this “shows that most mainstream conservatives don\’t have much stomach for such nasty rhetoric.” But I have to wonder whether it’s the rhetoric they can’t stomach or the embarrassment over the fact that CSPAN cameras were capturing a dissenting speech live on national television.
Think about it. Sorba’s remarks weren’t that much nastier than those mouthed at the DADT news conference. Sorba just didn’t follow agreed-upon talking points and he compounded that by openly dissenting with fellow CPAC attendees. The boo’s started when he said he was denouncing CPAC before he even said why he was denouncing them. Was it the rhetoric they were booing? Or was it the open dissent — complete with calling people out by name — on nationwide television that garnered the boos (and cheers)?
(By the way, some are saying Sorba was boo’ed off the stage. It looks to me that he left the stage when he finished saying what he wanted to say.)
But just showing up is all it takes for GOProud to excite the purest of the purer-than-pure element, then even GOProud’s most ardent critics would have to concede that their mere presence served, at least, as a small but important measure of community service for LGBT citizens. Besides, anyone who makes life unbearably uncomfortable for the National Organization for Marriage, which found its booth located just a few short steps away from GOProud’s, is worthy of respect. Jimmy LaSalvia’s “Who’s the pansey?” line by itself is worth GOProud’s sponsorship and travel costs.
Playing rope-a-dope, which GOProud has evidently done, is a very useful role to play. The more dopes we can rope, the better. But at some point we ought to see something other than blind cheer-leading among gay conservatives. I mean please, tying Cheney’s standing ovation over his opposition to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and support for gay marriage? Not uttering a single peep over the ridiculous news conference supporting DADT? That just looks pathetic, especially when compared to the open revolt among gay Democrats over their party’s failure to deliver on promises. I’m glad that GOProud decided to stake out a presence at CPAC, but a presence with a clear eye and critical voice would be more helpful still. Woody Allan said that 90% of life is just showing up, but he’s a moviemaker. What does he know about politics?