Laura Bush and Dick Cheney aren’t courageous

It’s not gutsy to come out for marriage equality now. Updated: Bush asks to have her name removed from the ad VIDEO

Topics: Video, Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, Marriage equality, Gay Marriage, ,

Laura Bush and Dick Cheney aren't courageous (Credit: AP/Richard Drew/Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

Update: Shortly after I published this piece, a spokesperson for Laura Bush confirmed that the former First Lady had requested to have her name and image removed from the ad in question.  In a statement, Bush spokeswoman Anne MacDonald said in a she “did not approve of her inclusion in this advertisement nor is she associated with the group that made the ad in any way. When she became aware of the advertisement last night, we requested that the group remove her from it.” I guess Bush showed I was right about her political courage.

As a gay rights supporter, I think the new ad from the Respect for Marriage coalition, promoting the pro-marriage equality stance of Republicans like Laura Bush and Dick Cheney, is great politics. As a Democrat, forgive me if I don’t rush to applaud them for their alleged “courage” in bucking what has been Republican dogma.

When the history of the modern GOP is written, there will be widely apportioned blame and shame over the way elite people who knew better used issues of race, gender and sexuality to scare people who were anxious about social change – mainly white people — into blaming scapegoats: mainly African Americans, women exercising their reproductive rights, and gay people.

I say “mainly white people” because in 2004, Karl Rove was ingenious enough to try to scare black people, primarily conservative religious African Americans who were dubious about gay rights, into abandoning Democrats over the issue. Rove pushed gay marriage initiatives on state ballots, most notably in Ohio, hoping to rev up Bush’s white evangelical base while either depressing black turnout for Democrats or actively turning some black voters into Republicans (it didn’t work well.)

Rove has repeatedly denied the charge, but former Republican National Committee chair Ken Mehlman, who eventually came out himself, told The Atlantic in 2010 that Rove “had been working with Republicans to make sure that anti-gay initiatives and referenda would appear on November ballots in 2004 and 2006 to help Republicans.” Of course, Mehlman didn’t blow the whistle on Rove until after the election.



The only person featured in the ad who showed any courage in coming out for marriage equality is President Obama. He did it right after an anti-gay marriage initiative passed in the swing state of North Carolina, and some people predicted his stand might hurt him with black voters who are conservative on the issue. Instead it seemed to help nudge public opinion into the future: support for Maryland’s gay marriage initiative surged among African Americans after Obama’s declaration.

Dick Cheney’s cynicism is clear. Laura Bush is a tougher call. Everyone’s always known she’s more socially liberal than her husband. Hell, so are her in-laws: Barbara and George H. W. Bush once were such strong Planned Parenthood supporters that colleagues called Bush “Rubbers” when he was in Congress, for his stalwart sponsorship of family planning bills. While Bush switched to an anti-choice position to become Ronald Reagan’s running mate, his wife continued to say she believed abortion was a matter of “personal choice,” and she publicly – and courageously – opposed the fierce anti-abortion language that went into the GOP party platform when her husband was up for re-election in 1992.

I don’t always think it’s fair to blame a spouse for a politician’s bad judgment. Still, Bush gave cover to her husband’s wedge politics. Imagine if she’d taken a page from her mother-in-law and opposed the demagoguery on gay marriage in 2004, when it was benefiting her husband’s campaign? Besides, Cindy McCain came out for gay marriage only months after her husband lost to Obama in 2008. It took Laura Bush until last year, when she was promoting her own book.

It’s also worth noting that Cheney and Bush didn’t participate in the ad campaign; it merely features pro-marriage equality remarks they’ve made in the past. (See my update, above.)

So I’m happy for my gay and lesbian friends that their basic humanity is no longer questioned by certain Republican opportunists. But I won’t join in celebrating the decency of Dick Cheney or Laura Bush right now. It takes zero courage to follow the crowd on a human rights issue, especially after your own political career is over. (Correction: I guess it takes a little political courage, since Bush removed her name.)

Partisan Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote Wednesday that ‘it must pain the left” to see Bush and Cheney’s support for gay marriage. No, Jennifer, I’m happy to see it. It pains me that it took so long. (I’ll await Rubin’s reaction to Laura Bush’s display of courage.)

I talked about the ad with Chad Griffin of the Respect for Marriage coalition on MSNBC’s “Hardball” Wednesday:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>