Incredibly, this pouf
pageant is knocking them dead in Red State America.
It seems odd that these bible-thumping holy rollers
invite people into their homes a few nights a week
who they would prefer to never see in their communities.
Combine this oddity with the Bible Belt popularity
of that other gay minstrel show, “Will &
Grace” and it is hard to avoid the conclusion
that the militantly hetero middle is fascinated by
at least some aspects of gay culture.
I can offer no explanation for this societal-level
rubbernecking, but recent events offer considerable
evidence that such cognitive dissonance is not limited
to the shows Republicans watch. It appears that the
White House has no problem casting its own productions
with gays in supporting roles, though a deadbolted
closet door is a prerequisite.
Raw Story regulars are familiar with dapper David
Dreier’s closet. The gay-bashing Congressman
from Rancho Cucamonga has been outed more times than
a poodle with a bladder infection, yet he remains
a favorite spokesman for the Administration.
I assumed that Dreier’s manifest self-loathing
was relatively uncommon among the Bush inner circle.
But shortly after the gay Kristallnacht in November,
when the passage of 11 state-wide anti-gay ballot
initiatives helped to re-elect George Bush, rumors
began to swirl around former White House political
director and current RNC chief Ken Mehlman –
rumors that Mehlman studiously avoids addressing,
and that other prominent Republicans refused to discuss
on the record (at least until GQ magazine came knocking).
Then there was Gannongate. It simply begs belief
that the White House could have been unaware that
Gannon was a gay prostitute, and that it was unable
to find a less compromised shill. Someone must have
known and either not cared, or actually liked the
idea of having him close at hand.
And now, as night follows day, Gannongate has brought
speculation into the highest levels of the White House.
Rumors swirl around Press Secretary Scott McClellan.
Was he seen in gay bars, as has been reported by Raw
Finding a growing number of gays in the Bush White
House seems as notable as finding an equal number
of card-carrying Communists in Joe McCarthy’s
office. But the apparent contradiction is not sui
generis. Such cognitive dissonance figures prominently
in the Presidential psyche. Dubya likes Condi Rice
and Clarence Thomas even if he is indifferent at best
and hostile at worst to blacks in general. He favors
Alberto Gonzales despite policies harmful to Hispanics.
By now it is painfully obvious to all but the folks
P.T. Barnum warned us about that Karl Rove uses the
prejudices of the prejudiced to persuade them to vote
for people (like Dubya) they would otherwise recognize
as a threat to their wellbeing. Republicans fan homophobia
for profit in the same way their perennial “Southern
Strategy” stokes racism.
But being gay is different, at least in the eyes
of the radical right. Condi can’t help being
black; there is no question that Gonzales was born
Hispanic. The Christian Taliban insists that homosexuality
is a choice, which makes gays not merely sinners,
Yet Wayne Besen has been quoted
as calling the Republican Party a “gay affirmative
action program” and saying that the Republican
leadership looks like a “Harvey Fierstein cocktail
So why? What do these queer eyes do for the top Republican
guy? As part of my ongoing and utterly unschooled
psychoanalysis of our president, who manifests more
psychopathology than most residents of the extra-long-sleeve
wing of Bellevue, I can offer a theory: George W.
Bush is a textbook sadist.
A sadist is someone who obtains pleasure from inflicting
pain or others. We can still see glimpses of this
characteristic in our President’s distant, heavily
sanitized past. It has been reported that the young
George Bush tortured frogs, and shot at his younger
brother with a BB gun. We know he saw nothing wrong
with branding fraternity pledges while at Yale.
For a man of Bush’s current station, personally
dishing out such physical abuse is far too risky.
But the absolute power he now enjoys creates unmatched
opportunity to inflict psychological pain, which can
be worse for the victim, and thus more exquisite for
the tormentor. Recall that the Abu Ghraib guards force-fed
inmates pork and alcohol because those things were
banned by their religion – torture in the form
of forced betrayal of the victim’s beliefs.
Cause and effect may not apply here, but either way,
Bush could well have progressed from his childhood
pleasure of torturing small animals to taking pleasure
in the willingness of minorities who betray their
own in order to advance their careers.
George W. Bush doesn’t just torture minorities,
of course. Witness his comedy routine at this year’s
Gridiron Club dinner at which the President joked
that he had the “dangedest puppy” who
would roll over on command - but only some of the
time. “I renamed him ‘John McCain.’”
But there must be a special thrill when this patrician
in cowboy boots uses the oppressed to do his dirty
work for him. How many death row Hispanics did Texas
Secretary of State Alberto Gonzales encourage Governor
Bush to fry? How many poor blacks did Colin Powell
and Condi Rice send to their deaths in Iraq? And how
many gays have suffered from the way Ken, Scott and
David helped to engineer the triumph of homophobia?
Now, George Bush could scratch his itch without taking
a chance on alienating his homophobic base by allowing
untouchables into the inner sanctum. So why gays?
I’m guessing the reason he especially likes
having gays around is this: Bush cannot, in polite
society tell Gonzales to “screw the Hispanics,”
but in what passes for genteel company among Republicans,
he can bash queers in front of Mehlman, Dreier et
al and expect them to silently take the abuse. It
would not surprise me to learn that Bush knows these
closet cases are gay, and that he lets them know he
knows it. It would make his abuse of them that much
So perhaps our Maximum Leader keeps a few self-loathing
gays around because he enjoys watching them lick his
boot heels for the right to borrow a smidgen of Bush’s
power, even if the price is their own souls.
John Steinberg bloviates regularly @ www.bluememe.blogspot.com