Right Hook

Andrew Sullivan says Republicans like "Will & Grace" because its characters are sexless and unthreatening. Meanwhile, Christian activist Joe Glover demands gays be driven from Washington.

Published December 9, 2004 12:18AM (EST)

When Mayor Gavin Newsom sanctioned more than 4,000 same-sex unions at San Francisco City Hall in February and put the gay-marriage issue on the election-year marquee in neon pink and purple, cautious progressives and conservative Democrats expressed deep worry that it was just "too much too fast," and could cause a damaging backlash.

Was it all a bunch of excessive hand-wringing? According to a New York Times report this week examining how advertising strategies played out in the presidential campaign, America is now full of Republicans who would say some of their best friends are gay.

Or, at least, their best friends from TV land.

"One of the shows most popular with Republicans, especially Republican women ages 18 to 34, turned out to be 'Will & Grace,' the sitcom about gay life in New York," the Times reported. "As a result, while Mr. Bush was shoring up his conservative credentials by supporting a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, his advertising team was buying time on a program that celebrates gay culture."

But if Team Bush was happy to go both ways on the issue, blogger Andrew Sullivan says he's neither surprised nor impressed by the data revealed in the Times' report. "The gay characters on 'Will and Grace' are either mainstream and sex-less, like Will, or the gay version of 'Step'n'fetchit', from an actor who refuses to say publicly that he's gay. That's exactly how many Republicans like their homosexuals. Just don't ask to be treated like an equal human being."

Whether shameless prime-time pandering or not, the advent of "Will & Grace" doesn't have the denizens of Free Republic too concerned, now that America's future has been born again with Bush's reelection.

"All of this in-your-face stuff which is being hurled at us has indeed awakened a sleeping giant," wrote one poster last week. "The pro family values movement, I believe, is for real and will have a lasting effect on our culture. Finally, the silent majority is fighting back: witness the anti-ACLU and anti-UN movements, the increase in reparative therapy programs to 'un-do' homosexuality, the pro-marriage ballot initiatives, etc. And, don't discount the possibility that the [U.S. Supreme Court] will make a sharp right turn in the next few years, which will, in itself, slow down, and perhaps even reverse, the left-wing lunacy."

That was a tame response compared with the anti-gay nastiness unleashed by the Freepers last year against Massachusetts' Supreme Court "fudgepackers" and the Rick Santorum-esque bestial wickedness the justices had officially let loose at the altar of civil unions.

But while some on the far right may have toned down the volume a notch in the glow of election-year victory, some Evangelical Christians are cranking up the anti-gay rhetoric as they look to cash in on their efforts to put Bush back in office.

Doing away with that dog-gone depraved lifestyle
"The unique opportunity of presenting the listener with the latest news without the liberal bias that is so prevalent today," is one reason American Family Radio's Rusty Pugh enjoys his work as a broadcaster. "AFR news is presented objectively," he says, "but from a Christian perspective." Writing in the Christian news outlet Agape Press this week, Pugh takes note of Christian activist Joe Glover's directive that Evangelicals, flush with Republican wins from the White House to Capitol Hill, now have every right to demand that gays be booted the hell out of the Beltway.

"A pro-family activist from Virginia says voters who put Republicans in office should demand that politicians not employ key personnel who don't hold the conservative views that the party promotes. That activist says the Capitol Hill office of Virginia Senator George Allen is a good example. Senator Allen is head of the Republican Senatorial Committee and was a key figure in the GOP's big victories in November. But Joe Glover, president of the Virginia-based Family Policy Network, says something is very wrong. Glover says homosexual publications have outed at least six members of the senator's office as homosexuals. He says one homosexual activist even went so far as to say Allen had the 'gayest office on Capitol Hill.' Pro-family conservatives, he says, need to make sure Senator Allen hears their voices.

"'If someone is going to run the day-to-day operations for the Republican apparatus to elect U.S. senators across the country, then dog-gone-it, it better not be somebody who practices a lifestyle that is diametrically opposed to the Evangelical Christian base that delivered George W. Bush and the Republicans in the Senate the victory they saw in November,' he says. Glover says Allen's executive director recently resigned because he was outed as a homosexual."

"What We Won in Fallujah"
Other conservatives are concentrating on putting a favorable spin on the war raging abroad. Though there are many signs that the situation in Iraq is turning increasingly grim, Council on Foreign Relations fellow Max Boot wrote in the L.A. Times last week that the U.S. Marines' crushing of Fallujah was a victory in just about every sense -- and stirred admiration among the Iraqi people.

"The only major PR snafu came when a journalist taped a Marine shooting a wounded insurgent. Though endlessly replayed on Al Jazeera (which refused to show the video of terrorists apparently slaughtering aid worker Margaret Hassan), there is no sign that this action has cost the U.S. any public support in Iraq. On the contrary, many Iraqis, fed up with terrorist attacks, no doubt applauded the Marine's ruthlessness.

"This is not meant to suggest that everything went perfectly. Many terrorists were able to escape Fallouja before the assault and create mayhem in Mosul, where the local police folded with dismaying speed."

Maybe that's because the Fallujah-based terrorists got a bit of a heads-up from the Bush administration.

Boot seemed to get a little more realistic when it came to the time frame necessary to win the war against the insurgency.

"Even in a best-case scenario, the bombings and beheadings won't end the day after the [Jan. 30 national election]. It can take a decade or more to defeat an insurgency ... Thus, for all their success in Fallouja, we should not expect U.S. troops to completely pacify Iraq anytime soon."

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Read more of "Right Hook," Salon's weekly roundup of conservative commentary and analysis here.

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

MORE FROM Mark Follman

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2004 Elections Gay Marriage Iraq Middle East