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“Sorry, Sorry, Sorry….”

August 25th, 2010 4 comments

Here we go again. Another prominent Republican, this time former RNC Chair and Bush Campaign Manager Ken Mehlman comes out (to the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder).

And now he’s, like, all into equality and stuff.

Here’s the core of his infuriating mea-sorta-culpa:

Mehlman acknowledges that if he had publicly declared his sexuality sooner, he might have played a role in keeping the party from pushing an anti-gay agenda.
“It’s a legitimate question and one I understand,” Mehlman said. “I can’t change the fact that I wasn’t in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that. It was very hard, personally.” He asks of those who doubt his sincerity: “If they can’t offer support, at least offer understanding.”
“What I do regret, and think a lot about, is that one of the things I talked a lot about in politics was how I tried to expand the party into neighborhoods where the message wasn’t always heard. I didn’t do this in the gay community at all.”
He said that he “really wished” he had come to terms with his sexual orientation earlier, “so I could have worked against [the Federal Marriage Amendment]” and “reached out to the gay community in the way I reached out to African Americans.”
It’s the last paragraph that had me wishing I’d printed the story out so that I could have torn it into tiny scraps. Note the unstated assumption: He couldn’t help the community sooner,  because he wasn’t yet out to himself. As if his long residence in the closet excuses his politically self-serving, homophobic agenda. Try “wouldn’t” instead of “couldn’t.”
This may come as news to Mehlman, but all of us who identify as part of the LGBT community had our own “journey” (to use his word), and many, many of us didn’t engage in gay-bashing while trying to figure it all out. It turns out to be quite possible to support gay rights even when you’re “straight.”
Read the whole story. Ambinder reminds us that Mehlman presided over the RNC and the Bush campaign at a time when our community was being used, again and again, as electoral fodder for their campaign in order to drive the base to the polls and give Bush his disastrous second term. Because of that, we have many more anti-gay constitutional amendments in place than would otherwise have been the case. Mehlman’s attempt at expiation by working with pro-equality groups can’t begin to unravel the harm he helped weave.
Oh, but let’s not be too hard on the guy. After all, he “privately” supported civil unions and, he claims, “privately” met with Republican officials to “beat back efforts to attack same-sex marriage.” That seems to have worked well.
He’s still a Republican, of course. No matter that the party is way behind even the pathetic Democrats when it comes to LGBT issues; it’s all about the lifestyle and access to which he’s become accustomed. He’s like Stephanie Vanderkellen, the empathy-challenged character from the old Newhart show, who when forced to apologize for shocking behavior, apathetically intoned: “Sorry, sorry, sorry….”
I’m not usually this unforgiving, but this is a particularly egregious case. And Mehlman still doesn’t seem to quite get it.