April 11, 2008

TOUGH TO BE TRIBAL:

Gay press frustrated by Obama approach (CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN, 4/9/08, Politico)

The Philadelphia Gay News rebuke highlighted Obama’s complex relationship with the gay community, and touched off a blogosphere debate about the role of the gay media in presidential campaign coverage and the ethics of gay journalists.

Obama has been criticized for embracing some black religious leaders who are resistant to gay rights, but also praised for speaking out against homophobia in the black community while at an historic black church. He has folded equal rights into his highest profile speeches in front of mainstream audiences, and has gone further than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton by calling for the full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act.

With a decent story for Obama to tell, gay editors from Dallas to San Francisco to Boston have been left wondering why Obama doesn’t take it directly to their publications, as Clinton has done with increasing frequency since Super Tuesday.

“It doesn’t seem to match what he says at these other events,” said Cynthia Laird, news editor at the Bay Area Reporter in San Francisco. “It is very disappointing to me.”

The reason for Obama’s distance is unclear.


Obama Triangulates and Won't Go Where Other Great Americans Will on Hamas (Steve Clemons, April 10, 2008, Huffington Post)
Ben Smith of Politico points out that Barack Obama has "drawn a line" regarding which of the world's problematic bad guys should be met by Presidents like himself -- and Jimmy Carter. He thinks Carter should not meet any Hamas leaders.

I guess isolation works for some and not others -- but ah, just when does one know in Obama's play book?

Apparently, he's OK meeting Israeli leaders because they disavow terrorism -- but still they protect and establish illegal settlements and have installed more roadblocks and inhibitions to Palestinian mobility than was the case since the November 2007 Annapolis Summit. And while knocking Carter's efforts, Obama fails to articulate how any negotiation that does not include in some way a wrestling match and attempt at a negotiation with Hamas will be stable enough to believe in.

A leading Knesset Member in Israel who strongly favors Senator Obama if he had the chance to vote in the U.S. elections told me recently that his one fear about Obama is that in his quest for the White House, he will ultimately have to shed his pragmatic approach to problem solving and demonstrate to critics "that he will be more Israeli than the Israelis."


Can't cotton to the queers without upsetting the blacks and Latinos or to Hamas without alienating Jews. It ain't easy being Barack.

MORE:
Liberals and Their Invisible Homophobia: It's not just homophobia from conservatives we have to worry about. Liberals can be just as baldly antigay -- often without reproach. (James Kirchick, 4/08/08, Advocate.com)

If John McCain had confessed to being “not comfortable” around “those people,” handed a microphone over to the likes of Donnie McClurkin, cast aspersions about the sexuality of political opponents, or just openly called someone a “fruitcake,” the denunciations from liberals would be swift and unforgiving. Yet Democrats in particular and liberals more broadly always get a pass. Indeed, at the time of Stark’s outburst, the Human Rights Campaign defended the congressman by emphasizing that he "is one of the gay community's staunchest allies." Log Cabin Republicans president Patrick Sammon points to the example of the Democratic mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Jim Naugle, who has made a series of homophobic remarks about the many gay tourists who visit his Florida city. Rarely, however, do news stories ever mention that Naugle is a Democrat. “If he was a Republican, every single story about him would have ‘Republican’ before his name,” Sammon says.

The liberal journalist Eric Alterman, a columnist for The Nation and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress think tank, is a particularly nasty example of the liberal homophobe. Two years ago he challenged gay, HIV-positive journalist Andrew Sullivan to prove a claim Sullivan had made about Alterman regarding military action in Afghanistan, offering to pay “$10,000 to the AIDS charity of Sullivan’s choice.” He mocked Sullivan, “who is HIV positive and likes to discuss this fact with reporters,” for his “remodeled bathroom in P-town.” Alterman regularly refers to Sullivan as “little Roy,” after Roy Cohn, the gay aide to Sen. Joe McCarthy who died of AIDS complications. Following Ann Coulter’s labeling Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards a “faggot” in 2007, Alterman said, “Look, the word 'faggot' ... is a word one hears in private conversation quite frequently; she just said it in public.” Makes one wonder what sort of company Alterman keeps.

As odious as this rhetoric may be, it is indicative of an attitude among straight liberals for whom gay rights is not a signature issue. They may be happy to support the notion of gay civic equality in the abstract, but it's certainly not something they're going to go out of their way to do and risk political capital. And if in the course of political debate they have the opportunity to denigrate gays for political advantage (or are forced to contend with a gay person who does not share their views), they won't think twice about saying things that, were they to come out of the mouth of a conservative, would immediately be labeled “homophobic.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 11, 2008 2:22 PM
Comments

These articles are so-o-o-o gay.

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 11, 2008 5:30 PM

Down low O is in a tough position here, so to speak.

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at April 11, 2008 5:55 PM
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