Some Inconvenient Truths About GOProud

With some high profile center-right bloggers outraged by the American Conservative Union’s decision not to continue gay Republican group GOProud’s sponsorship of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, it’s worth listing a few points about GOProud and CPAC the finger wavers should think about:
  1. GOProud’s position on marriage: “Opposing any anti-gay federal marriage amendment.  Marriage should be a question for the states.  A federal constitutional amendment on marriage would be an unprecedented federal power grab from the states.” Deferring marriage policy to the states is a respectable (albeit mistaken, in my view) conservative position; referring to the marriage amendment as “anti-gay” is not.
  2. GOProud’s stated support for marriage federalism is highly misleading. The organization wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, falsely suggesting the law interferes with the right of the states to set marriage policy. DOMA is not a federal same-sex marriage ban, but merely a federal guarantee that individual states won’t be forced to recognize or adopt the marriage definitions of other states. What good is it for GOProud to say they support states’ rights on the issue if they want to leave the states defenseless against activist judges?
  3. GOProud doesn’t merely ignore social issues; they also actively demand that the rest of the conservative coalition abandons social issues too. In doing so they misrepresent how many Tea Partiers they speak for and denigrate the movement’s most conservative, loyal and long-standing members as “Washington insiders and special interest groups.”
  4. GOProud supported the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. But as those following the issue know, policymakers ignored the concerns of many servicemen and military officers in deciding what to do about DADT. Can any organization that doesn’t take seriously the military’s judgment in such matters truly call itself conservative?
  5. GOProud supports ending taxpayer funding for abortion, but punts on the main issue. It turns out GOProud president Chris Barron worked for Planned Parenthood as director of pro-choice outreach to Republicans. Barron says his time with PP was the “worst 2 months of my life,” yet it apparently wasn’t significant enough to change his position all that much: “he stopped supporting the Roe v Wade decision in early 2006, after this experience, ‘but beyond that don’t have strong feelings on abortion – not really involved in the process.’”
  6. Barron has also smeared longtime conservative activists Tony Perkins (Family Research Council president) and Cleta Mitchell (ACU board member) as “bigots,” and ridiculed those boycotting CPAC over GOProud’s involvement, including Sen. Jim DeMint and Concerned Women for America, as living on “the Island of Political Misfit Toys.” Barron did apologize to Mitchell, but not to the others. Not only has Barron shown his capacity for demonization, but he lacks the common sense and the humility to recognize that a newcomer to the Right, especially one with all the baggage listed above, doesn’t quite have the standing to pass judgment on the political relevance of the movement’s veterans.
  7. Barron isn’t the only GOProud bigwig with behavioral problems. In response to the National Organization for Marriage’s perfectly reasonable press release stating, “We welcome everyone’s right to participate in the democratic process, but we have a message for GOProud on marriage: If you try to elect pro-gay-marriage Republicans, we will Dede Scozzafava them,” LaSalvia threw a temper tantrum: “I just have a question for them: Who’s the pansy at CPAC? What wusses. Just come over. Don’t play nice if you’re not going to be nice.”
  8. Some critics have asked why the ACU is throwing out GOProud, but not Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan, both of whom are disturbingly cozy with radical Islamists. That’s an excellent question, and the ACU should be confronted on it. Y’know what else is an excellent question? Why the people raising the question don’t notice that Norquist is also on GOProud’s advisory board. Are we to believe Norquist impairs the ACU’s reliability on national security and foreign policy, but not GOProud’s?
Everyone makes mistakes now and then, and prudent allies should be able to forgive one or two transgressions for the sake of their shared priorities. But with no less than eight serious marks against GOProud, it’s entirely reasonable to doubt the organization’s intentions and conservative credibility. CPAC made the right decision.

This article is cross-posted at RedState.com.

Conservatives vs. GOProud, Round…I Lost Count

Those throwing hissy fits over the American Conservative Union’s decision not to have gay Republican group GOProud cosponsor the next CPAC should calm down and Neil Stevens’ simple and perfectly reasonable defense of the decision at RedState:

Reagan supported a GOP Big Tent because he knew full well what it was to be in the minority in the Republican party. He suffered every attack imaginable, and just kept on working. He didn’t lash out and call left-wing Republicans any names like nasty bigot. He’s the one who got called a fascist and a cultist, in fact. But there was one place he could go to be among friends, and that was CPAC. It’s no wonder he spoke there so much.

That’s why I support the ACU in its decision. Not because I want to run anyone out of the party, or because I don’t want to be able to work with GOProud and other groups to achieve good things for the country under the GOP Big Tent. But because CPAC is supposed to be one place where conservatives get a break from what we get called every other week of the year.

Politics ain’t beanbag, but our side has many venues for fighting out our differences. We’ve got party offices and platform committees, we’ve got numerous primary elections, and we even have Twitter these days. With all of these avenues for hashing it out, I don’t need to be hectored at CPAC. I just don’t.

‘Nuff said.

Leon Wolf, Scourge of Pseudo-Cons Everywhere

Leon Wolf, author of a gloriously merciless review of Meghan McCain’s book Dirty Sexy Politics, has a couple of excellent posts up at RedState taking to the woodshed some not-so-conservative views and figures who reside on the Right.

First, CPAC and GOProud apologists:

Of course, conservatives have always been willing to wander into the arena of ideas and engage in spirited debate with liberals. Who can forget Buckley’s famous exchanges with Gore Vidal? It positively begs the question, however, to assert that CPAC is a place where this must occur and that conservatives must be willing to attend for this purpose or they are shirking their responsibility.

Many conservatives (including myself) live their lives surrounded by combative liberals, whether in the work place or in our social circles. We are constantly on the defense of our principles. The very reason we attend CPAC is that it is healthy once a year to be around like minded individuals and recharge our batteries for the fight in the upcoming year. It is not the Free Exchange of Ideas and Debate Club Conference. It is the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Of course, the post attempts somewhat to skirt this problem by asserting that conservatives can believe in all kinds of ideas. This assertion is based on a faulty taxonomy of conservatism that could well have been pulled from an essay written by a left-wing journalist assigned to cover conservatives like they were Gorillas in the Mist […]

It is of course the libertarian’s right to believe and think as he does, but it is important for conservatives to be honest with ourselves on this point: many areas in which the libertarian desires to reduce the size and scope of government are borne of fundamentally liberal instincts.

Second, pro-appeasement libertarians:

You see, there is almost nothing more important to Gillespie and his ilk than being blasé about Islamic terrorism. At this point, it has actually become tiresome. Yes, Nick, we are all very impressed at how very little you care about the government protecting the lives of your fellow citizens, and we are all admiringly agape at your daring suggestion that we have nothing to fear from Islamic terrorists. The victims of the families of 9/11, the USS Cole bombing, and the World Trade Center bombing I’m sure find you edgy and cool and would like to hear your views on the relative merits of The White Stripes and The Black Keys at their next cocktail party.

Of course, the real “point” of Gillespie’s post is for a hard-boiled Libertarian to lecture mainstream Republicans on what they ought to do to win elections. Ordinary people might find this as out of place as me lecturing Kobe Bryant on what it takes to win NBA titles, but Gillespie manages the trick with such panache that none of the other authors or commenters at Reason (who are also smarter and much more in tune with todays voters than anyone who might read such a pedestrian site as RedState) seem to notice what a majestic buffoon he makes of himself in the process. To recap, the Republican party has held the White House for 20 of the last 30 years with pro-life, anti-gay marriage candidates; the Libertarian party has never cracked double digits in a Presidential election, ever. Even in 2008, with Republican brand identity at generational lows and a relatively high profile candidate in Bob Barr, the Libertarians managed to get beat by Ralph Nader who was running without the Green Party nomination. If we are smart enough to follow Gillespie’s advice, someday the GOP nominee might well reach the soaring heights of barely beating Cynthia McKinney. 

Expert articulation of critical messages. Go read ’em both.

What a Surprise

On December 31, I wrote:

At this point, GOProud’s trustworthiness is in doubt. Their true intention seems to be to drive the Right socially leftward. Here’s another simple test that would reveal a great deal about their real values and priorities. GOProud is in favor of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. So they should answer this question: do you believe Congress gave sufficient consideration to the judgment of American servicemen and military leaders prior to repeal?

On January 12, I decided to pose that question to GOProud. I both emailed and left in the comments of their (then) most recent relevant post the following:

Hello,

I am interested in GOProud’s position on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney has written that “nearly 1200 retired flag and general officers” have “written their own open letter opposing repeal of the ban on homosexuals in the military.” (BigPeace.com, Dec. 17) Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, made the following observations from the survey website:

“[T]he Working Group conceded, ‘Our sense is that the majority of views expressed were against repeal.’’ (p. 49) Not only were these opinions disrespected, Adm. Mike Mullen has already stated more than once that anyone who disagrees with the LGBT law no longer will be welcome to serve.

“In addition to involuntary personnel losses due to Adm. Mullen’s ‘zero tolerance’ of dissent, cross-tabbed data displayed on the 2010 DADT Survey website indicate that among Army combat arms personnel, 21.4% would leave sooner than planned, and 14.6% would think about leaving–a total potential loss of more than a third (36%) of those valuable troops. (DADT Survey Appendix J, p. 53)

“Marine combat arms would be weakened even more, with 32% of Marines saying they would leave sooner than planned, and 16.2% considering an early end to their careers, totaling almost half. (DADT Survey Appendix L, p. 47) The gradual loss of so many combat troops and what the report described as ‘only 12%’ of families likely to decline re-enlistment could put remaining troops in greater danger, and break the All-Volunteer Force. (CRWG Report, p. 4)”

(BigPeace.com, Dec. 19)

That said, my question is: Does GOProud believe Congress gave sufficient consideration to the judgment of American servicemen, military leaders, and defense experts prior to enacting repeal?

Answer? Crickets. Just be careful whether or not you dare mention it – Andrew Breitbart might get “offended.”

Around the Web, GOProud Edition

There are a couple noteworthy things in Los Angeles Timesreport on the storm brewing over GOProud’s involvement in CPAC. First, the conference has lost its biggest name yet: the Heritage Foundation. Second comes a new indication that tolerating gay people isn’t the problem: “CPAC has refused to schedule a panel about traditional marriage.” Third, the paper quotes Family Research Council president Tony Perkins as emailing to supporters: “Conservatives and homosexuals cannot coexist in a movement predicated on social values.” But that’s not how the quote appears in FRC’s strong public statement: “Conservatives and homosexual activists cannot coexist in a movement predicated on social values.” Either Perkins changed his tune for public consumption, or the LA Times is lying. I’m gonna guess it’s the latter.

At NewsReal, David Swindle and the infamous Ryan Sorba are debating, “should gays be part of the conservative movement?” David’s correct as far as the debate goes, but frankly the whole conversation draws time and attention away from what the GOProud controversy is really about: not gay rights, but whether or not the radical gay agenda is infiltrating the conservative movement.

Speaking of confusing the issue, Andrew Breitbart’s take is more than a little disappointing: “even though I’m sensitive to the social conservative movement […] the treatment that they’re giving gay conservatives at CPAC deeply offends me.” Y’know what offends me, Andrew? Blatant misrepresentation of what’s going on. What treatment? Which gay conservatives have been mistreated? Details, please.

Another Year, Another Scandalous CPAC

A considerable number of conservative organizations – Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, American Principles Project, American Values, Capital Research Center, Center for Military Readiness, Liberty Counsel, National Organization for Marriage, and Media Research Center – are planning on boycotting CPAC 2011 over the participation of gay Republican lobbying group GOProud.

To me, the question of whether or not CPAC should be boycotted over this is kind of pointless – as Ed Morrissey says, CPAC is an awfully diverse bunch, even without ’em:

The conference includes social conservatives, Ron Paul groupies, isolationists, interventionists (the dreaded neo-cons), libertarians, religious organizations (including Muslims), atheists, several flavors of fiscal conservatism, and even the John Birch Society.

Unlike Morrissey, I don’t think the presence of Paulites, isolationists and Birchers at CPAC is necessarily something to celebrate. Where do we draw the line? When have we brought in so many dilutions and mutations of conservatism that it ceases to be conservatism?

GOProud’s defenders are also deluding themselves if they think all GOProud’s interested in is ensuring that gay Americans feel welcome in the movement (a questionable mission in any case – when did the NRA, Club for Growth, or National Right to Life Committee start checking for sexual orientation at the door?). After all, these are the same guys who demanded that the new Congress abandon social issues by dishonestly claiming to speak for the entire Tea Party movement, all the while denigrating their so-called conservative “allies” as “special interests.”

At this point, GOProud’s trustworthiness is in doubt. Their true intention seems to be to drive the Right socially leftward. Here’s another simple test that would reveal a great deal about their real values and priorities. GOProud is in favor of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. So they should answer this question: do you believe Congress gave sufficient consideration to the judgment of American servicemen and military leaders prior to repeal? Spoiler alert: the correct answer is no.

(Oh, and to the Frum-types who couch their apologetics for groups like GOProud with pragmatic arguments about the “politics of addition” and such, just ask yourself: which organizations do you think represent more conservatives? Which organizations’ and their constituencies’ alienation do you think will have the more detrimental effect on the movement?)

On the other hand, Morrissey points out a not-insignificant distinction: while GOProud is attending, they aren’t an invited sponsor, meaning CPAC isn’t endorsing their platform, and neither are groups who participate in CPAC. And as he says, CPAC presents “the best possible forum for engagement and debate of the competing agendas of these groups.” If CPAC is going to indulge such wildly varying groups and ideologies, hopefully they’ve planned a series of candid, spirited debates and roundtables about these disputes. Ignoring unconservative views and agendas on the right weakens conservatism, but debating them can only strengthen it.

Surprise! Gay Republican Lobby Wants Social Conservatives to Shut Up

Last week, Jim DeMint fired a shot on behalf of social conservatism, and this week, gay Republican group GOProud is counterattacking with a press release speaking for “a group of Tea Party leaders and activists”who urge “Republicans in Congress to avoid social issues and focus instead on issues of economic freedom and individual liberty”:

On behalf of limited government conservatives everywhere we write to urge you and your colleagues in Washington to put forward a legislative agenda in the next Congress that reflects the principles of the Tea Party movement.

Poll after poll confirms that the Tea Party’s laser focus on issues of economic freedom and limited government resonated with the American people on Election Day. The Tea Party movement galvanized around a desire to return to constitutional government and against excessive spending, taxation and government intrusion into the lives of the American people.

The Tea Party movement is a non-partisan movement, focused on issues of economic freedom and limited government, and a movement that will be as vigilant with a Republican-controlled Congress as we were with a Democratic-controlled Congress.

This election was not a mandate for the Republican Party, nor was it a mandate to act on any social issue, nor should it be interpreted as a political blank check.

But as Joe Carter points out, not only does this letter not speak for the majority of the Tea Party, but its signatories are the ones out of step with the movement:

There are more than 2,300 local Tea Party groups across the nation yet leaders from only 12 of them signed the document […] They don’t seem to realize that they are out of touch with their own “movement.” A recent survey has shown that nearly half (47 percent) of Tea Party supporters consider themselves to be part of the conservative Christian movement. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Tea Partiers say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, and only eighteen percent support same-sex marriage. Most Tea Partiers are part of the one-legged conservative coalition.

GOProud might not like it, but we belong here every bit as much as (actually, even more than) they do. And you can’t really claim to stand for “individual liberty” if you don’t recognize that human rights begin in the womb.

GOProud and (a tiny sliver of) the Tea Party continue:

Already, there are Washington insiders and special interest groups that hope to co-opt the Tea Party’s message and use it to push their own agenda – particularly as it relates to social issues. We are disappointed but not surprised by this development. We recognize the importance of values but believe strongly that those values should be taught by families and our houses of worship and not legislated from Washington, D.C.

We urge you to stay focused on the issues that got you and your colleagues elected and to resist the urge to run down any social issue rabbit holes in order to appease the special interests.

The Tea Party movement is not going away and we intend to continue to hold Washington accountable.

The rhetoric about “special interest groups” ought to raise major red flags. It’s clearly meant to demean organizations who take seriously the right to life, protecting marriage, and religious liberty, by defining them as somehow beneath economic issue and motivated by something less pure. But first, that distinction is utterly arbitrary. All organizations involved in “influencing politics and policy on the federal level” (to use GOProud’s self-description) on anything – tax cuts, defense spending, health care, Israel, guns, abortion, marriage, environmental regulations, education, you name it – have an “interest” of some sort, and can just as easily be defined as a “special interest group.” Guess what, GOProud? That means you, too.

Second, labeling something a “special interest” is an old insult that dates all the way back to the writings of the early progressives. It’s meant to suggest that a position is motivated not by political principles or by a desire for the good of the country, but by either selfishness or devotion to something other than the country. Obviously, this isn’t true, for reasons I’ve explained before (and linked above). Disagreeing with GOProud on something doesn’t automatically make our motives impure (nor does it mean their motives are automatically on the level).

And just as obviously, it’s not how allies allegedly committed to the same goals treat each other in a healthy coalition. I’ve long been suspicious of GOProud’s true aims and their value to the Right – and this latest arrogant, dishonest attack on those of us who fully and consistently follow the principles of the American Founding only hurts their credibility further.