Is political insanity running rampant among Republicans these days?
First, John McCain threw good sense to the wind and tapped Sarah Palin as his running mate, even though she is untested and astonishingly unqualified to be one septuagenarian heartbeat away from the presidency.
Now Log Cabin joins in the fall foolishness by going forward with an endorsement of the McCain-Palin ticket without even waiting to ask, much less get answers, about the Alaska governor’s unknown views on a range of issues important to gay Americans. We only learned today, for example, that she opposes hate crime laws.
(UPDATE: LCR told Reuters it is taking "a wait and see approach with Gov. Palin about her views on gay issues." Huh? A bit late for that at this point.)
My understanding is that Mike DuHaime, the McCain campaign's political director, thanked Log Cabin from the podium today at the group's luncheon. That's encouraging, though let's see if there's any acknowledgment from the podium of the convention itself. Then again, why wouldn't the political director say thanks? The LCR nod helps confuse voters into believing McCain is a "compassionate conservative" on social issues, and he had to do next to nothing to get it.
(UPDATE: DuHaime told Congressional Quarterly the Log Cabin endorsement is "very helpful" because McCain is "running an inclusive campaign." I rest my case.)
It’s as if our gay Republican friends forgot the basic politics of the carrot and the stick. Now that McCain and Palin are happily chomping away on the endorsement carrot that Log Cabin could have kept dangling in front of them, all they’re left with is the stick. With apologies to my friends among their number, including my beloved co-blogger Kevin, gay Republicans aren’t exactly known for carrying a big stick.
With the Log Cabin endorsement in hand, the pressure is off Palin to commit either publicly or privately to what some accounts suggest is her “openness to anti-discrimination legislation.” If McCain is elected, inside support from Palin might be the best shot at avoiding a veto of workplace protection, since the “inclusive” senator from Arizona has voted against such legislation multiple times.
Cynics will no doubt see the rushed endorsement as a desperate ploy by Log Cabin to gain entree into the GOP’s “big tent,” a concept that gay and pro-choice Republicans have demonstrated a much greater commitment to than has the rest of the party.
Witness how McCain picked Palin after he was forced to bypass his first two choices, Tom Ridge and Joe Lieberman, because social conservatives vowed a floor fight over their selection solely because Lieberman is pro-gay and both favor abortion rights.
This two-issue litmus test gives no credit to the eminent qualification and political advantages of both: Ridge, a former Homeland Security secretary, was twice elected governor of Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state, and Lieberman, a longtime Connecticut senator, was Al Gore’s running mate and has broad appeal among independents, conservative Democrats and Jewish voters.
Yet these same conservatives are ecstatic about Palin despite her obvious weaknesses because she chose not to abort her fifth child after learning he’d be born with Down’s Syndrome. (It also mattered not that this special-needs child is still an infant and requires far greater attention than Palin could give as vice president or president.)
(UPDATE: After reading the early comment train to this post, I officially regret including the above parenthetical about Palin's infant son. Not because I think I was wrong, but because it's a total tangent from the rest of the post.)
Pete Kingma, Log Cabin’s board chair, defended the endorsement by claiming McCain enjoyed “overwhelming support” among members. Listening to the grassroots is a good thing, and no doubt some gay Republicans will conclude that non-gay issues outweigh McCain's opposition to every form of gay rights legislation ever introduced at any level of government. But a record like that ought to preclude official backing from a gay rights group like Log Cabin.
The national board's decision not to endorse President Bush four years ago divided Log Cabin's members and donors, even though he had pushed for a federal marriage amendment. Even so, a rushed decision to satisfy internal critics who insist on a litmus test based on party affiliation is exactly what Log Cabin has for years rightly criticized the Human Rights Campaign and gay Democrats of doing.