Scroll To Top

A Tale of
Two Cities

A Tale of
Two Cities


Antigay family values defend the girls of the Big Easy and attack the boys of Boise.

if schadenfreude could be compared to a gourmet meal, let's just say the unraveling of Sen. Larry Craig's political career certainly qualifies as a veritable four-star feast at Le Cirque. Decades of rumors of a closeted lifestyle. A viciously antigay voting history. His hysterical denial after last fall's expose by gay activist Mike Rogers on Craig's extracurricular activities at Washington, D.C.'s Union Station. Finally, the almost orgiastic piece de resistance: the virtual gang bang conducted by Craig's former friends and fellow family values conservatives after the senator's "wide stance" was publicized. "Unforgivable," in the words of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. "Disgusting," from Mitt Romney, 2008 presidential hopeful (who only days before was Larry's BFF).

Care for an after-dinner mint? Try the senator's delicious claim of innocence: "We'll fight this like hell," Craig promised as he drove off into the sunset, sounding just as convincing as O.J. vowing to catch the "real killers."

Naturally, gourmet meals are accompanied by a hefty price tag. In this case, the (reality) check was brought by none other than Patrick Buchanan: "Rarely has a United States senator fallen so fast from grace or been so completely abandoned." As much as we hate to agree with the likes of Buchanan -- he has never been a friend to gays, closeted or otherwise -- the archconservative pundit has a point. The right-wing cannibalization of Craig was a perfect illustration of the antigay core values of the Republican Party's social conservative base. That Craig was self-destructing just as the presidential campaign season unofficially began should be a warning for the months ahead.

Compare this scenario to the conservative man-crush that broke the fall of Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana (a Republican, of course). Implicated in the "D.C. Madam" scandal, Vitter had also been racking up frequent-flier points in a New Orleans bordello. Somewhere between floor speeches supporting "traditional marriage" and cosponsoring a constitutional ban against same-sex marriage, the serial adulterer found time to call the escort service -- from the Senate Republican Cloakroom, reportedly. Unlike his closeted colleague from Boise, the senator from the Big Easy was never pressured to resign by his colleagues or, perhaps more important, the party apparatchiks who telegraph right-wing talking points to the social conservative base. "I realize that I did not say this about Senator Vitter," wrote Hugh Hewitt, the patron saint of "values" bloggers. "But Craig's behavior is so reckless and repulsive that an immediate exit is required."

That's what they'd like you to think.

Vitter's behavior was easy to excuse because it involved a woman (good), and if he were to resign, Louisiana's Democratic governor would appoint his replacement (bad). On the other hand, Craig was trolling men's restrooms (bad), and if he were forced to resign, Idaho's Republican governor, C.L. "Butch" Otter, would name the successor (good). Craig's resignation was a win-win proposition. The right wing could banish an embarrassment, make an example of his pitiful behavior, and maintain its political calculus.

Sure, some of the leadership on the Hill qualified the double standard. Craig "admitted guilt," says Nevada senator John Ensign, claiming that there's "a big difference between being accused of something and actually admitting guilt. David Vitter never did that. Larry Craig did." But it doesn't do much to obscure the fact that Republicans care especially about homosexual activity, as homophobic bigot Buchanan pointed out during a shouting match on MSNBC's Live With Dan Abrams. Once again, the unvarnished truth from the party's core constituency: The right-wing brand of family values is arbitrary, politically expedient, and antigay.

Buchanan's naked homophobia is often minimized by the GOP's country club wing -- Pat has some colorful theories on troop morale in foxholes if "don't ask, don't tell" were scrapped -- but make no mistake: The same expert compartmentalization exhibited by Craig and other closeted antigays is the standard operating procedure for members of the Family Values Party. Their "values" are easy and effortless: marriage to a wife, or a second (McCain, Thompson), or a third (Gingrich, Giuliani). Adultery, trysts with hookers -- even wife beating, in the case of two GOP congressmen up for reelection last November -- are all easily forgiven because, well, they still involve "one man, one woman." This makes the GOP's enemy all the more obvious: any relationship that is not "one man, one woman." Antigay bigotry is as simple as stringing a pinata at a child's birthday party and inviting the guests to take a swing without the blindfold. Everyone can join in and feel like a winner.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreAdvocate Magazine - Gio Benitez

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Rod McCollum