May
20th 2008
Smear the queer

Posted under: American history, Gender, GLBTQ, Intersectionality

Go read Digby‘s excellent post on how Republicans tar Democrats with the lavender brush.  She’s got a great roundup of recent slurs against Obama and the Clintons (homme et femme), as well as a delightful stroll through recent American political history and the Republican penchant for roughing Democrats up by calling them fags and lezzies.  (Heterosexuality:  the last refuge of the scoundrel?)

Now I don’t give a fig about people’s personal lives, but isn’t it strange that the major offenders mentioned here (Ann Coulter, Maureen Dowd, and Kathleen Parker) lead–shall we say?–unconventional women’s lives, or had a less-than-ideal upbringing, whereas the major Dems they attack have very traditional families and personal lives?  To wit:  Neither Coulter nor Dowd have ever been married, and clearly aren’t members of the abstinence wing of the Republican party, since both are urban sophisticates who have had many affairs with prominent men.  (It’s safe to say that they’ve led lives more like Carrie Bradshaw’s than Anita Bryant’s.)  Coulter’s consistent physical presentation (for more than a decade) is that of Malibu Barbie ca. 1977 with her colored hair and thin, tanned arms and legs on full display.  It’s a commitment to a specific aesthetic, like that of a female female impersonator.  No Pat Nixonish pastel suits for her!  (Maybe that’s just her style–and it certainly sets her apart from all other women and men on political chat shows, so it may be part of her effort to brand herself.)  And Dowd herself has written about the difficulty of attracting age-appropriate men, when they seem to prefer younger women who are less successful and less outspoken than she is.  Finally, Parker (according to her bio at Townhall.com) is very conventionally married and has a son, but says that she was raised by four stepmothers.  (Nothing wrong with that–it clearly wasn’t her decision–but she sure does have a lot of opinions about Democratic families and marriages, doesn’t she?)  

Now, let’s look at the Democratic politicians they’ve attacked with such patently gendered and homophobic slurs:  John Edwards (total number of wives: 1, married with children for decades), Bill Clinton (1 wife, married with child for decades, zero divorces), Hillary Clinton (1 husband, married with child for decades, zero divorces), Al Gore (1 wife, married with children for decades, zero divorces), John Kerry (2 wives, 2 children, 1 divorce), and Barack Obama (1 wife, 2 children, zero divorces).  I’m not suggesting that one has to come from a perfect family in order to criticize other families–rather, I’m suggesting that since there is no such thing as a perfect family or a perfect marriage, as they should know, perhaps Coulter, Dowd, and Parker should stop evaluating their political opponents’ masculinity or femininity, lay off calling other people fags and dykes, and judging their marriages and families.  Just a suggestion, girls!  Kthnxbye!

6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Smear the queer”

  1. David on 20 May 2008 at 11:09 am #

    The fortunate thing is that I think this brand of mudslinging has passed its expiration date. If the Republicans think they can win in 2008 with this kind of language, they are going to be in for a rude awakening.

  2. Fratguy on 20 May 2008 at 1:05 pm #

    For the love of Jeebus, George W Bush was a CHEELEADER at Yale (see link). Not that there is anything wrong with or emasculating about being a male cheerleader, but some mindless consistency in the application of baseless and ugly stereotypes on the part of the GOP faithful would be refreshing. Fratguy’s own choice of athletics, rugby and soccer, were notable for explicitly excluding cheerleaders. Maybe that’s why we were regarded as “faggy” by the footballing shovelheads. There is another picture of W applying a very cheap shot during a rugby game in the enclosed link. Just click the right arrow to see it. In case you are saying to yourselves right now “hey, but rugby is a pretty tough and manly sport and not at all infused with any homoeroticim” you have obviously never attended a mid week team meeting.

    http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/images/blbushcheerleader.htm

  3. Historiann on 20 May 2008 at 1:44 pm #

    Excellent point, Fratguy–and thanks for those Bush photos with your expert commentary! I like the caption on the Rugby cheap shot: “George Bush delivers illegal, but gratifying right hook to opposing ball carrier.” He hits like a girl!

    And David: you’re in Obamaniac Dreamland if you think this mudslinging is out of fashion a short 4 years after the GOP successfully portrayed a decorated Vietnam Vet presidential candidate as an effete, unmanly, flip-flopping out-of-touch liberal, and their Cheerleader frat-boy Preznit as a manly man who takes a stand and sticks by it. It is the playbook they’ll run against Obama (along with making Michelle look like an overbearing broad with dangerous opinions). They already are. But my comment today was about the media cheerleaders, not the GOP playbook. Notice how the Dowds, Parkers, and Richard Cohens all adopt GOP language and framing to describe and demonize Democratic presidential candidates as unreliable, untrustworthy gender queers.

    You may be right that it won’t work this year, in which case Obama will join Bill Clinton as the only Dems to win in the last 30 years since this tactic became fashionable. But I think the track record speaks for itself.

  4. Knitting Clio on 20 May 2008 at 3:33 pm #

    I just got back from a conference on HPV vaccines, which included gay men’s health, so we talked about a different sort of smear, i.e. the diagnostic kind . . .

  5. Historiann on 20 May 2008 at 3:44 pm #

    Eeew! TMI, KC!

  6. David on 20 May 2008 at 6:32 pm #

    As I said, it won’t work, although I’m sure the Republicans will use it since they have nothing else to run on anymore. But thanks for the condescension.