Thursday, October 19, 2006

Becoming the Monster (Or, Has the Left Been Taken Over by Homophobia?)

There is a potentially serious scandal brewing in the these final days leading up to the election. It seems that a prominent Lefty blogger named Mike Rogers has "outed" Senator Larry Craig (R-ID). Craig denies the charges. Apparently, he has a long history of this, and he says he's not done. I don't know about you, but this whole thing, and the idea of using this as a campaign strategy in general is just unseemly, and frankly stomach-turning. For heaven's sake, you'd expect these tactics from the far-right. Why are so many on the Left using that playbook?

It seems that there is a twofold political strategy here: To paint gay Republicans as hypocrites, and undermine GOP support from social conservatives. The GOP's record on gay rights issues, and their consistent campaign of wedge politics notwithstanding, the idea that either opponents of gay marriage are bigots by default, or that if gays support conservative causes they somehow lose their legitimacy is hardly a liberal concept. The way this is being done, it really is McCarthyite (and Rovian). Does the Left really want to go down that road?

After all, is this really how we want to win? With all the obsession over the Foley affair, you'd think Mark Foley is the only reason to vote against the GOP? Are the Democratic idea men really planning this as the slam dunk? Do they really believe this ought to be the focus? The GOP has so many weaknesses right now. Is this all they've got? Come on, people, enough of this.

Besides, this really could backfire, in the short and long term. Glenn Reynolds points out:

Yes, "creepy, gleeful efforts" don't win you many friends or converts. Of course, they're really just meant to demoralize Republican voters and keep them home on election day.
I suspect they'll have the opposite effect. The GOP leadership has managed to alienate much of its base, but this kind of slimy and obviously organized political effort is more likely to encourage GOP voters to ignore the bad stuff and vote Republican as a way of demonstrating their disgust with the creepiness.

Are we prepared to blow the election (and our dignity) with this low-class sleaze? I'm optimistic, so I'm convinced this won't spread past the lunatic Lefty cutthroat fringe, or hurt our chances that much. Let it be known though: The more this stuff increases, the more the Democratic Party (and the country) loses.

Also, I think Captain Ed makes a good point:

People wonder why we don't attract a wider range of qualified candidates for public office. Michael Rogers sets himself up as Exhibit #1. The personal and degrading attacks convince many people to skip the trouble, and the people who do dare to run for office usually wind up experiencing the ruination of their reputations in one form or other. It comes from all sides to some degree, but this ghastly mudslinging really marks a new low.

Yeah. I agree. All this notwithstanding, I've still got a piece coming on why the Dems should win this election. It's gotten a little harder to write. Just a little.

Hat tips: Classical Values and Fern.

UPDATE: If Mike Silverman is right, it's all moot anyway.

UPDATE#2: Secondary reflection leaves me wondering if I might have overreacted as far this being a widespread campaign strategy for Democrats. The evidence does show that this is an isolated incident, and no high-profile Dems are involved with this, so it's not really fair to suggest that this have become policy. That being said, this thing with Rogers is sleazy, the policy in general is sleazy, and unfortunately has support from some Lefties. I'm totally anti-hysteria, though, and I don't want this degenerating into hysteria. At the end of the day, the GOP has truly earned its anti-gay rights rep, but Rovian sleaze tactics aren't the answer.


mariamaria said...

hola, raafique. This is very well thought out. Thanks for the intriguing read. Are the liberals adopting Roveian tactics now since it worked seemingly so well for the Bush camp? Good question.

Walrus said...

More than one Canadian election has been lost on the strength of nasty election ads. These things can backfire seriously. Much like celebrity endorsements, which have also been demonstrated to do more harm than good most of the time.

Rafique Tucker said...


I don't know, but it sure seems that way.


Good point. Celeb endorsements only make candidates appear more out of touch with average voters.

Tully said...

Note that Mike Rogers is not just a lefy blogger, hes a radical gay lefty who's made it his life mission to "out" GOP gays. He has a VERY long history of this--he's the guy who outed Foley several years back.

Rafique Tucker said...

It seems that violent political zeal, regardless of party-has real consequences. Apparently, Rogers and his ilk are committed to recruiting for their battlefield, whether their potential candidates choose it or not. "You're either with me, or you're my enemy."

Not very progressive, is it?

Tully said...

Rogers and crew aren't "progressives" at all in the sense of being actual liberals or remotely mainstream Democrat. They're ends-justify-the-means radicals in the old-fashioned sense of the word.

I know I say it a lot, but it bears repeating. We think of the parties as monolithic blocs, and they encourage it. US versus THEM is so much easier than actual thought and nuance. But they're actually shifting coalitions of hundreds of special interest groups, each with their own agendas, often at odds with each other.