Last Thursday, the GOP advocacy group — they are no longer a GOP LGBT advocacy group — took out a full page ad in The New York Times attacking former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s (R-NE) possible nomination as Defense Secretary to succeed Leon Panetta, who is expected to step down soon. LCR’s ad calls Hagel “Wrong on Gay Rights, Wrong on Iran, Wrong on Israel.” It comes to that conclusion after quoting Hagel’s 1998 denunciation of openly gay James Hormel as US Ambassador to Luxembourg and implores readers to donate to LCR so that they can “create a stronger and more inclusive Republican Party.”
Oh, and to tell Obama that Hagel is “wrong for Defense Secretary.”
As Timothy Kincaid noted, there are a number of very good reasons to be concerned about a possible Defense Secretary Hagel, most of which I share. Hagel attacked Hormel for being incapable of “representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards” because “it is an inhibiting factor to be gay — openly, aggressively gay.” Whatever that was supposed to mean. Hagel’s attack on Hormel stood for more than fourteen years through debates over marriage, DOMA, and DADT repeal — which incidentally a Secretary Hagel would oversee its continued implementation. Hagel supported DADT up until his retirement in 2009, although he now says that he is “pro-ending” DADT. His belated apology notwithstanding — for being “insensitive” rather than for being wrong — I find him a troublesome choice for Defense Secretary.
Log Cabin Republicans find him problematic as well, and they’ve spent an incredible amount of scratch to say so. Believe it or not, but after a highly contentious election year, they just happened to find that they had somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred grand that was till laying around in their coffers to put towards a full-page ad in The New York Times.
That’s an incredible amount of money to tell everyone that Hagel is “wrong on gay rights.” Especially when it comes only two months after LCR decided that Mitt Romney was the right choice “for our members, our community, and for the nation as a whole” — despite Romney’s running on the most homophobic platform in GOP history and his personal endorsement for NOM’s five-point attack plan against the LGBT community.
It’s time to face simple facts. Log Cabin Republicans is no longer an LGBT rights group. At one time, they were. They withheld their endorsement of President George Bush in 2004 because he called for the passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment, and they endorsed John McCain in 2008 partly because he opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment. They also sued the federal government in court over the constitutionality of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” That is what accountability and advocacy used to look like for gay Republicans within the GOP.
But this year, LCR endorsed Romney for holding exactly the same policies as Bush, while Hagel gets a full-page attack ad over fourteen-year-old comments — for which Hagel at least managed to muster some kind of a half-hearted apology, which, as weak as it was, is still far better than anything we’ve heard out of Romney.
And what makes the LCR’s actions all the more unbelievable is that just two weeks ago, when Hagel’s comments were first coming to light, LCR Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper was singing his praises:
Speaking for himself and not for LCR, Cooper wrote in an email, “I recall working with Senator Chuck Hagel and his staff during the Bush administration and he was certainly not shy about expressing his criticisms. But despite his criticisms, Hagel voted with us most of the time and there was no question he was committed to advancing America’s interests abroad. As for his nomination to be secretary of defense, it is well worth noting that Senator Hagel is a combat veteran who has hands-on experience in the field. The battlefield is not just theory for him.”
Anyone can hold some unbelievably inconsistent positions, and many of us do. But LCR is putting some serious muscle behind its sterling silver forked tongue. According to tax returns filed at Guidestar (registration required), LCR’s annual revenue amounts to something in the neighborhood of $800,000, while a full-page ad at the New York Times can run in excess of $100,000. Which means that LCR doesn’t just hold a glaringly inconsistent position, they purchased their double-platinum double standard at the cost of upwards of an eight of their annual budget.
Or so they would have us believe. Which, frankly, I find preposterous. To believe that, I would have to swallow the idea that in the closing days of an election year, this particular political organization still had an eighth of its budget unspent. Really? Nobody has that much money laying around at the end of the year. But LCR did. Or, more likely, the necessary funds just happened to materialize right at the moment when it was needed to cover LCR’s highest priority as of last week.
All of this raises some very legitimate questions about what kind of an organization the Log Cabin Republicans really is. We know they don’t give a shit about the LGBT community; they amply demonstrated that two months ago. They are now just using “gay rights” as just another angle to support the broader Party Line, whatever the Party Line is. And that Party Line is to support Party Causes, Party Campaigns and Party People, regardless of whatever their actual positions on gay rights happens to be. If it means supporting The Party’s anti-gay presidential candidate, then shut up and get in line. If it means providing cover for The Party’s opposition to a somewhat less anti-gay turncoat who would dare to work in a Democratic administration, then here’s a boatload of cash to do it with. Gay rights? Shmay rights! As long as it provides cover for The Party’s larger goals.
As a postscript: It’s worth noting that on the day after that the LCR ad appeared in The New York Times, the LCR board announced that Cooper was stepping down as Executive Director effective Dec 30. Their Party Line is that Cooper made that decision last October.