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Ken Mehlman’s Scrambled Politics

Posted on Aug 26, 2010
AP / David Zalubowski

Ken Mehlman in July 2005, during his stint as chairman of the Republican National Committee.

So, the word got around this week that President Bush’s 2004 campaign manager and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman has come out of the closet. “It’s something I wish I had done years ago,” he said.

We do, too—because, as The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder points out, Mehlman held such high-ranking positions within Republican ranks during key moments when he could have done his part to push back against anti-gay sentiments and initiatives fomenting within the party. And his puzzlement about gay voters’ reluctance to join forces with the GOP over Islamic oppression is just plain strange.  —KA

Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic:

Privately, in off-the-record conversations with this reporter over the years, Mehlman voiced support for civil unions and told of how, in private discussions with senior Republican officials, he beat back efforts to attack same-sex marriage. He insisted, too, that President Bush “was no homophobe.” He often wondered why gay voters never formed common cause with Republican opponents of Islamic jihad, which he called “the greatest anti-gay force in the world right now.”

Mehlman’s leadership positions in the GOP came at a time when the party was stepping up its anti-gay activities—such as the distribution in West Virginia in 2006 of literature linking homosexuality to atheism, or the less-than-subtle, coded language in the party’s platform (“Attempts to redefine marriage in a single state or city could have serious consequences throughout the country…”). Mehlman said at the time that he could not, as an individual Republican, go against the party consensus. He was aware that Karl Rove, President Bush’s chief strategic adviser, 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.

Mehlman acknowledges that if he had publicly declared his sexuality sooner, he might have played a role in keeping the party from pushing an anti-gay agenda.

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By robert puglia, August 27, 2010 at 10:13 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

what? if he had opposed the republican anti gay line he
wouldn’t have had his position. the girl’s a mess.

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By izquierdqa, August 27, 2010 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment

Mehlman comes out of the closet & admits that his party had an open agenda of gay-baiting & bashing which he enabled. Oh, & he also came out about his basically already publicly known sexuality.
Self-loathing is a tough secret to keep.

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By David Ehrenstein, August 27, 2010 at 5:34 am Link to this comment

Actually he’s very much worth commenting upon—for a number of different reasons.

Times are certainlychanging, fastwer than our very slow “Mainstream” Media can keep up with. The closet is over, therefore the system that kept creeps like Mehlman in place is no longer tenable. The cognative dissonance (the most polite term I can find) that made it possible for a gay man to feed his internalized self-loathing has likewise seen its last—though self-hating gay men will of course continue even in the post Neil Patrick Harris era.

Most important of all, the excuses the “Mainsteam” has had for covering for the likes the Mehlman—when his gayness was as obvious as Ricky Martin’s—can no longer hold.

Mehlman’s apologies interest me less than CNN’s for censoring Bill Maher’s apeparance on Larry King where he mentioned the truth about Mehlman, and the work of other 4th Estate lackeys like Howard Kurtz, Jokn King, and everybody’s favorite closet queen Anderson Cooper.

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By Sodium-Na, August 26, 2010 at 8:23 pm Link to this comment

I wonder why Truthdig has wasted time and space on this horribly aggressive right-winger!!!

He is not worth commenting on,even in totally negative terms,as I am doing right now!!!

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By David Ehrenstein, August 26, 2010 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

One with actual power and authority.

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By omygodnotagain, August 26, 2010 at 6:33 pm Link to this comment

Just another NeoCon prick

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By David Ehrenstein, August 26, 2010 at 5:37 pm Link to this comment

It’s a condition known as “Internalized Homophobia.”

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By ardee, August 26, 2010 at 5:04 pm Link to this comment

A real conundrum that someone like Mehlman can be comfortable in a party that loathes his own kind. Strange that we find so many closeted gays within said party.

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By David Ehrenstein, August 26, 2010 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment

Ambinder’s just another KAPO.

Mehlman is Roy Cohn 2.0

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