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Log Cabin Republicans Loses Its Last Shred of Credibility

A commentary.

Jim Burroway

December 30th, 2012

And in the process, they have gone all-in on political hack-dom.

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.

Comments

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TomTallis
December 30th, 2012 | LINK

‘That’s an incredible amount of money to tell everyone that Hormel is “wrong on gay rights.”’

I think you meant Hegel…

Jim Burroway
December 30th, 2012 | LINK

I did. Thanks for the correction.

TomTallis
December 30th, 2012 | LINK

Glenn Greenwald has a good piece in the Guardian today on the same subject.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/30/hagel-log-cabin-republicans-ad

tomchicago01
December 30th, 2012 | LINK

LCR is noisily scraping their chairs on the floor, desperately trying to find a place and get their legs under the table only to discover that all they’re going to get to eat is some cold soup.

Hank
December 30th, 2012 | LINK

Hear hear!

tim
December 30th, 2012 | LINK

The LCR has made the same mistakes that the HRC made. Becoming an ultra partisan organization while selling out the reason they were created.

Neither org gets my cash anymore.

Sami
December 30th, 2012 | LINK

I take serious issue with this article and it’s claim that the LCR still had any credibility left to lose.

Ben in Oakland
December 30th, 2012 | LINK

Well, Sami said it before I did. I have credited LCR with some accomplishments, but they are so eager to be the lap dogs of the Republican Party that they long ago lost credibility with me as anything other than conservatives who are willing to say they’re gay, and occasionally put their money where their feet are.

I’m an American first, and a conservative republican second.

Spoken like a true American conservative republican. Gay doesn’t register all that much.

tristram
December 30th, 2012 | LINK

@Jim Burroway – Hagel’s full statement was not that weak. He went beyond characterizing his original comments as ‘insensitive’ to state that those comments do not reflect his present views and that he is fully committed to implementing the repeal of DADT:

“My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive,” Hagel said. “They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights. I am fully supportive of ‘open service’ and committed to LGBT military families.”

Hagel is by far Obama’s most qualified potential SecDef. Given the major issues the SecDef will have to deal with in the next 4 years, we need to put the nation’s interest first and support the President on this one. Fortunately, based on Obama’s track record and Hagel’s statement, that does not mean diminishing the momentum we have built toward full equality.

Timothy Kincaid
December 31st, 2012 | LINK

It seems that Log Cabin thinks Hagel as Secretary of defense is bad for our community. So do I.

They also think he’s bad on Middle East issues. So do I.

So what is their crime here?

Is it that they spent money on this ad that you think they should have spent somewhere else? Those are mot my priorities, but considering that not a cent of that money came from me, I’m not sure I get to make that call.

Is it that Cooper made contradictory statements? Yeah, I agree that’s stupid. But it certainly isn’t worth all this anger and ire.

Or is it that Log Cabin’s position is the same as the Republican Party on the issue? Is it the perception that Log Cabin just might in some way be advancing a Republican goal as opposed to a Democrat goal?

Maybe not, but that’s how this reads to me.

You seem to be proposing that the only purpose for gay Republicans is to oppose the Republican Party. Or, at least, to never disagree with Democratic goals.

Which is why Log Cabin quit caring what the “the community” thinks about them decades ago. They – and the quarter to third of gay people who agree with them – do what they think is best for gay people and the nation, not what gay Democrats think best and don’t give much weight to the opinions of people who regularly call them kapos and Uncle Toms. (Yes, I know that you do not. But even those who do not do so generally don’t publicly disagree with those who do.)

Sometimes they get it very wrong, like endorsing Romney. Sometimes they get it very right, like DADT. But they aren’t worried about being expelled from a community that kicked them out when Carter was in office.

As for “where’d they get the money”, I have no inside info. But I have a good guess. There happens to be an organization that is very affluent and very committed to gay rights and very connected to Log Cabin which I also suspect is very supportive of Israel. (Hint: think New York).

And if my guess is right, then you can decide if it’s a crime against the community to oppose the administration on Obama’s Secretary of Defense possible nominee through funds provided by an ally. But if so, I’m rolling my eyes.

One other minor thing. I assume you’re on LCR’s email list (like me, I’m sure you get dozens of groups). Several months ago I noticed that they were accepting applications for a new director.

Jim Burroway
December 31st, 2012 | LINK

Timothy, I do wish you would respond to the post that I wrote and not to the one you seem to think I wrote. I don’t give a rat’s patootie whether they support Republican or Democratic principles. In fact, I would expect them to support Republican ones, but *not* at the expense of the LGBT community.

Let me try to approach it this way.

Their motto is “inclusion wins,” isn’t it?

Doesn’t that mean fostering inclusion within the Republican party whenever the opportunity arises?

And isn’t Hagel a Republican?

And didn’t he at least express some movement toward inclusion?

Romeny didn’t. Where is his NYTimes $100K ad?

And what does this say to any other Republican who moves toward inclusion?

What I would expect is for the LCR to, you know, work toward inclusion, which might mean figuring out how to at least acknowledge that there was some movement. And one might think that one way to do that might be not to continue to highlight a fourteen-year-old comment without somehow acknowledging Hagel’s more recent statement which shows precisely the kind of movement that LCR claims (false, we now know) to be working towards.

But what this latest action says is that none of LCR’s grand talk about “inclusion” matters one bit. The ONLY thing they care about anymore is whether a Republican steps outside of the increasingly narrowly drawn Party Lines. When you do that, then inclusion doesn’t mean shit. And if you stay within Party Lines, exclusion doesn’t matter.

Which, when you think about it, really means that there is now no practical difference between LCR and GOProud. The only difference now is that Ann Coulter prefers one over the other.

Jim Burroway
December 31st, 2012 | LINK

And by the way, I did subscribe to LCR emails, but for whatever reason, I haven’t been getting them lately. In fact, it’s been a vey long time since I’ve gotten one, now that I think of it.

Timothy Kincaid
December 31st, 2012 | LINK

If your objection was that they were not supporting Republicans that were moving towards inclusion, perhaps that point was a bit understated. I missed it completely.

And I think you already know my opinion on Hagel’s ‘oh I didn’t really mean it and since I want to be Sec of Defense I now hold opinions that are 180 degrees from my voting record’. I’m with Barney Frank on this one.

And while we’re discussing Party Line, what is the Republican Party Line on Hagel? I don’t know. I’ve heard some Republicans support him and some do not. In fact, the only Party Line that I know is the President’s.

So it looks like LCR is guilty of NOT upholding that Party Line. Guess that makes them partisan extremists, huh?

Timothy Kincaid
December 31st, 2012 | LINK

And, by the way, I can’t fathom how opposing Hagel is “at the expense of the LGBT community”.

Jim Burroway
January 1st, 2013 | LINK

I’m sure you are quite aware that Hagel has done two things against the Party Line: 1) he recognizes that Hillary clinton is secretary of state and not Netanyahu, and 2) that he would dare to work for a Democratic administration when the Part Line is to always say NO to anything that hints at cooperation.

And, by the way, I can’t fathom how opposing Hagel is “at the expense of the LGBT community”.

If you think that addressing 14 year old comments in a manner that shifts the conversation towards inclusion and opens up the opportunity for dialogue — one, which hasn’t yet taken place as far as I am concerned — and getting slammed as though that opening never took place is NOT at the expense of the LGBT community, then let’s just see how the LCR’s new “exclusion wins” mode of operation goes over in the long haul.

LCR has placed party purity over inclusion, and that ALWAYS works against the LGBT community, whether it’s the LCR doing it or Barney Frank.

Otherwise, I’d have to have a double standard myself. And I refuse to get one.

Robert
January 1st, 2013 | LINK

Jim-

Timothy didn’t get the inclusive portion of Hagel’s statement as he got his news information from Fox News, which left out the edifying comments.

He ranted about the “apology” and slammed it, but couldn’t be bothered to post the entire thing.

I don’t care for Hagel, I thought he was a poor choice, partly for his past stances and his voting record on LGBT issues, and the fact that I think there are perfectly qualified Democrats who can hold that position. THias constant use of Republicans as SOD is damning to the democratic party in that it suggests that a Democrat can’t run Defense. Why Obama kept Gates for so long is beyond me, and the very brief tenure of Panetta makes little sense either. I believe we should have a Democrat in the position, but I’m pretty swayed by Party over person sometimes, because I don’t trust Republican’s to tell the truth, ever. On this site the conservative is sloppy in reporting and leaves out a LOT of pertinent information, presenting a dishonest conversation stemming from a dishonest origin. Your article and some linked on here by tristram have made me re-think this particular nomination. The President gets to pick, not me, so I will trust his judgement when it comes down to it.

Priya Lynn
January 1st, 2013 | LINK

Timothy said “And while we’re discussing Party Line, what is the Republican Party Line on Hagel? I don’t know. I’ve heard some Republicans support him and some do not. In fact, the only Party Line that I know is the President’s.”.

I really don’t believe there is any American who doesn’t know what the Republican party line is. The Republican party line is to oppose anything the Democrats want to do regardless even when what the Democrats propose was an idea the Repulicans had proposed themselves in the past or fully supported when they were in government.

Timothy Kincaid
January 1st, 2013 | LINK

I’m sure you are quite aware that Hagel has done two things against the Party Line: 1) he recognizes that Hillary clinton is secretary of state and not Netanyahu, and 2) that he would dare to work for a Democratic administration when the Part Line is to always say NO to anything that hints at cooperation.

Wow. I had to check to see if someone wasn’t just using your name.

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