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Bush/GOP distance themselves from anything GAY

Rick Munroe
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Mr. Bush Won't Be at the Tonys


New York Times

June 6, 2004




It's now official. George W. Bush is not a theater queen.


The word came on May 22, after the president had taken his mountain biking fall on his ranch in Crawford. "You know this president," said Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, taking pains to explain that his boss had been on a 17-mile marathon, not some limp-kneed girly jaunt. "He likes to go all-out. Suffice it to say he wasn't whistling show tunes."


Let's face it; there had been some nervousness about Mr. Bush's butch bonafides. The president was on record as having loved "Cats." His uncle, Jonathan Bush, a New York song-and-dance man in the 1950's, had appeared as Will Parker in a revival of "Oklahoma!" ("A first-grade hayseed!" raved a critic at The New York Times.) Then there was that lingering question about why a president who had avoided Vietnam was dressing up in Tom Cruise pilot drag and, in Wesley Clark's phrase, "prancing on the deck of an aircraft carrier" in our current war. The scene looked more like a slab of choreography from the World War II movie musical "Anchors Aweigh" than "The Longest Day."


Had Mr. Duffy not intervened, some voters might have feared that the president would be tuning in America's gayest awards show, the Tonys, on CBS tonight. In an election year whose signature culture war has been fought over same-sex marriage, Mr. Bush and his party have made a fetish of distancing themselves from all things gay.


Only weeks before Mr. Bush was cleared of any non-Nascar tendencies, Lynne Cheney's lawyer halted a planned reissue of her 1981 novel, "Sisters," whose themes include Sapphic love in the Wild West. (Sample passage: "The women who embraced in the wagon were Adam and Eve crossing a dark cathedral stage — no, Eve and Eve, loving one another as they would not be able to once they ate of the fruit and knew themselves as they truly were.") Mrs. Cheney's husband has gone her one better. He's reversed the position he took in 2000 and embraced a constitutional marriage amendment, thereby disowning his gay daughter's civil rights more definitively than his wife has disowned her novel.


Next thing you know the Bush 41 v.p., Dan Quayle, may be suited up again to bitch-slap Carson Kressley as he did Murphy Brown. Yet you have to wonder whether the Republicans' gay-aversion therapy this year, once thought of as a slam-dunk political strategy, will prove so smart in the end. Much of the rest of the country seems to be inching, if not stampeding, in the opposite direction.


It was only three weeks ago that the world as we know it, or at least the institution of marriage, was supposed to be thrown into chaos when Massachusetts started marrying gay couples. That night "Nightline" replayed video of the celebratory spouses, implying that such kissy pictures might jolt public opinion like the photos from Abu Ghraib. "When Americans see images like these, will they be repulsed?" was the portentous question asked by a correspondent at Boston's City Hall. "Or will they see two people in love?"


But Massachusetts's wedding day proved to be the show dog that didn't bark. Americans merely shrugged, confirming polls both before and after that fateful day: voters rate same-sex marriage dead last in importance among issues in an election year dominated by a runaway real war. The only rabble-rouser "Nightline" could recruit to vilify same-sex marriage was Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council. Never mind that he bears the same name as one of Hollywood's most famous closeted stars. Hardly had he started speaking than he invoked America's most famous gay playwright by calling John Kerry, whose opposition to same-sex marriage he found insufficient, "a cat on a hot tin roof."


Mr. Perkins's unconscious (one assumes) channeling of Tennessee Williams is an indication of the right's problem this year: no matter how hard it tries to set itself in opposition to what it calls the "homosexual agenda," it cannot escape the reality that gay people have been stirred into the melting pot of America and its culture, not to be expelled again. Only the Republican leadership fails to realize this. Otherwise why would it have chosen to renominate Mr. Bush in New York?

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