By Lisa Keen
Keen on the trail…
With all the attention riveting on commentator Ann Coulter’s use of the f-word at the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting this month, very little notice was paid to other odd moments. The man who introduced the Republican field’s most notoriously anti-gay candidate, Mitt Romney, described the former governor’s efforts at combating gay marriage in Massachusetts as being equivalent to Ginger Rogers dancing “backwards and in high heels in the very difficult state of Massachusetts.” When Romney took to the podium, he quipped that “It’s an honor to be here in high heels and backwards.”
Unspoken drag II: In introducing Rudy Giuliani to the CPAC audience conservative columnist George Will lauded the former New York City mayor’s conservative credentials, saying he is a conservative in the spirit of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. “Conservatism, as we all know, comes in many flavors, and there are many fine conservatives competing for the attention and affection of all the people in this room,” said Will. “Your next speaker’s conservatism is the flavor of Margaret Thatcher’s, of whom it was said she could not pass a government institution without swatting it with her handbag.” Giuliani is somewhat notorious for having dressed in full drag regalia to shoot a video gag with Donald Trump. When he got to the podium, Giuliani smiled sheepishly and quipped, “I think if I started swatting government agencies with a handbag, I’d be a whole new issue.”
Co-opting Kansas: And talk about your odd moments: This is what anti-gay U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback said when he came to the podium at the CPAC meeting: “I’m Sam Brownback, I’m running for president of the United States, and I’m taking the yellow brick road to the White House.” Brownback, who represents Kansas, apparently is not aware of the famous fondness of gays for the Wizard of Oz and how closely Dorothy’s observation “I’m not in Kansas anymore” is associated with being gay.
Questioning pride: It was undeniably an important pitch for gay votes, but some are questioning how proud U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was to speak before the Human Rights Campaign March 2. The appearance was publicized by HRC only after Clinton spoke, which meant there was very little media coverage. That was not lost on the right-wing Family Research Council which sent out an e-mail noting that, although Clinton said during her appearance, “‘I am proud to stand by your side’, she sent the message that she wasn’t proud enough to publicize it.” Associated Press asked the senator why neither her Senate office nor her campaign announced her plans to speak in advance. Clinton responded, “You’ll have to ask my campaign.” The Human Rights Campaign has not responded to calls from this reporter to glean the details of the arrangement.
Promising access: Although some may squabble with her willingness to make her appearance before the Human Rights Campaign public, Clinton did apparently allow HRC to publicize the event afterwards, and she did make at least one significant promise during her remarks: “You will always have an open door to the White House.” Clinton also announced that a member of its board of governors, Mark Walsh of Boston, had just joined her campaign. The speech can be seen on YouTube.
On the schedule: Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) is the scheduled and publicized keynote speaker for HRC’s annual gala in Los Angeles March 24.
In and out: The Republican Party picked up two new presidential candidates in recent days, and the Democratic Party lost two. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a not gay friendly Texan who ran as a Libertarian in 1988, announced Monday he will run as a Republican for 2008. Fred Thompson, a former U.S. senator better known for his role on television’s Law & Order, announced Sunday that he’s contemplating a run for the GOP nomination, too. He told Fox News Sunday that he’s against gay marriage but thinks the country should be “tolerant” of gays and states should be free to provide for civil unions. Meanwhile, former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has dropped out of the Democratic race for lack of money, and friends of former Vice President Al Gore have told supporters that Gore will not run for the 2008 nomination.
Hanging in: U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) won a straw poll in a tiny South Carolina county among Democratic candidates on March 4. The Orlando Sentinel says 28 percent of 100 party activists chose Dodd out of the rest of the field. But, the Sentinel attributed the victory to Dodd’s appearance in York County just two days before the poll.
Been there, not: Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), who fancied himself as a presidential contender until he lost re-election last November, isn’t getting in line behind Sen. John McCain’s bid. Santorum, who led many a fight to ban gay marriage while in the Senate, told a television show on March 1 that McCain just hasn’t been there “on the social issues that I care a lot about. I challenge you to find John McCain standing up one time when I was on the floor of the Senate fighting for the lives of the unborn, or fighting for the defense of marriage, standing up there and fighting with me. He just hasn’t been there.”
Been there, not II: Eight newspapers have dropped Ann Coulter’s conservative column because of her use of the word “faggot” in regards to Democratic presidential contender John Edwards. The Human Rights Campaign has urged people to lobby the 100-plus newspapers which carry her column to drop it. According to the website of the progressive research group, Media Matters, most of these papers are relatively small – the Oakland Press in Michigan, The Mountain Press in Tennessee, and the Herald & Review in Illinois. The website is listing all the papers that haven’t dropped the column at mediamatters.org, along with an e-mail link to the appropriate contact person, for those who wish to continue the campaign to boot Coulter’s column.