I have made no secret on this blog of my distaste for the Republican strategy of pushing opposition to abortion and gay marriage as litmus tests for GOP candidates and as “wedge” issues to use in campaigns.
While I acknowledge there are many millions of sincere, devout Christians (and other social conservatives) who see these issues as vital to the moral fiber of the nation and thus worthy of standing them up front and center as the party’s main identity, from a personal standpoint, I strenuously disagree.
Abortion, I can understand. The religious underpinnings that can rationalize life at conception are well known to me, having grown up Catholic. But the Republic or the “sanctity of marriage” being in danger because two people in love want to get married? That’s a stretch. There may be other reasons to keep gay people from marrying but the more I think about it, the more I believe that it’s really no body’s business who loves who and what sex they are. There may be sticky legal issues involved but I’m no lawyer and can’t speak to them. All I can look to is common sense. And common sense tells me that gay people should be able to do anything in this free country that anyone else can do.
Beyond common sense, there is politics. And while I am not calling for dropping these planks from any GOP platform, these issues are no longer “wedge” issues. They are “loser” issues. They are “recipe for electoral disaster” issues. They are driving people away from the Republican party.
Another time I might make the argument that they are not even conservative issues but such a post is not in my pen tonight. Instead, I want to talk about the regularity with which conservative Republicans seem to get themselves into trouble over sex. The latest is Idaho Senator Larry Craig who was arrested in a Minneapolis restroom for “lewd conduct.”
â€œAt 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area,â€ the report states.
Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times, and Karsnia noted in his report that â€œI could … see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider.â€
Karsnia then held his police identification down by the floor so that Craig could see it.
â€œWith my left hand near the floor, I pointed towards the exit. Craig responded, â€˜No!â€™ I again pointed towards the exit. Craig exited the stall with his roller bags without flushing the toilet. ... Craig said he would not go. I told Craig that he was under arrest, he had to go, and that I didnâ€™t want to make a scene. Craig then left the restroom.â€
The conduct doesn’t seem lewd to me and the whole story reeks of something very fishy. But the fact is, the Senator pled guilty and probably thought that it would stay out of the papers if he didn’t make a fuss.
The point really isn’t whether he’s guilty or innocent. The point is that this sort of thing becomes a huge issue because of the way the party talks about gays and the way many GOP stalwarts like Reverend Robertson and James Dobson talk about sex. The perception that Republicans are a bunch of bigoted blue noses stuck in the 19th century with Victorian sensibilities about the bedroom turns off a lot of voters – especially the young.
A brief look at this eye popping poll that shows the vital 18-29 year old group turning up their noses at Republicans is very significant. I was in that age group when I became a Republican and many of my fellow Reaganites were also young, eager conservatives who drank in the enormous intellectual ferment that bubbled up from dozens of places in Reagan’s Washington. We were on the cutting edge and we knew it.
Nowadays, I don’t blame young people for turning off the GOP. The corruption, the hypocrisy, the sanctimony, and the tired old men pushing tired old ideas to an ever shrinking number of wealthier, whiter, men has the GOP in deep, deep, trouble. If I were that age again, I probably wouldn’t support Republicans either.
Perhaps the predicted disaster in 2008 will wake a few people up. Not likely based on what happened in 2006. As the left did for 30 years, the push will be for more ideological “purity,” more fealty to what passes for conservative issues today.
Just at the moment that our country needs the right’s commitment to fight a war against an implacable, unyielding foe, our own stupidity is going to allow the milquetoast left to ascend to power. For that, our children and grand children may curse us for our folly.
Ed Morrissey also sees disaster for the GOP in 2008 – at least in the Senate.
The Republicans already have a 21-12 disadvantage in next year’s Senate contests. His was one of the seats the GOP hoped to hold, and his party had been pushing to keep him from retiring. I suspect they’re looking for Plan B at the moment.
And Allah gets off the line of the day.(From the Roll Call article) â€œAt one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, â€˜What do you think about that?â€™ the report states.â€
(Allah): I think he can probably start throwing away those cards now.