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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Geoff Michel and Ron Carey Use "Lifestyle" Code Word to Gay-Bait Ash Madia - DFL Silent

While the DFL made a huge deal out of the press conference held by Ron Carey and Geoff Michel that attacked Ash Madia for being a carpetbagger. The DFL claimed that these were racist attacks. This in my view is weak. Andy Birkey points out that the attacks were about gay baiting.

While Republican Party representatives took heat this week for claiming in fliers that DFL candidate Ashwin Madia had the “wrong demographics” to serve the people of the 3rd Congressional District, they got off lightly with respect to the not-so-veiled undercurrent in their attack on Madia’s “lifestyle.” By larding in mentions of Madia’s household (he’s a renter, not an owner) and his hobbies (he’s not a soccer coach), the tacit insinuation that Madia must be gay is made easier to politely ignore. But it appears to be the real payload behind GOP efforts to point out Madia’s purported, um, difference from the stolid homesteaders of the 3rd District.

“Gutter politics are a gross insult to the good people of our district,” Rep. Jim Ramstad said Tuesday while praising Republican candidate Erik Paulsen for upholding of the “proud tradition of clean politics and ethical campaigns.” But as history demonstrates, there is a long and unadmirable record of flogging a political opponent’s unmarried status as a genteel means of throwing the race into the gutter. And since no accusation is ever actually made, the implication is not really susceptible to rebuttal. It just hangs out there with a wink.

It’s ironic that a tactic like this should arise in a race to replace Republican Rep. Jim Ramstad, who himself was single for most of his congressional career, until he married Kathryn Mitchell in October 2005.

But as I said, there’s a long track record behind this kind of ploy.

The Republican Party of Minnesota’s newest attack line on Madia’s unmarried status (he’s only 30 years old, after all) mirrors that of veteran political operative Karl Rove.

The circumstances were ripe for Rove to encourage surrogates to ask around if she might be a lesbian, and as Richards defended her position that her appointments were made on merit regardless of sexual orientation, the press began asking her if she was a lesbian. Richards lost the election to George W. Bush, with some political experts claiming the defeat was spearheaded by the whisper campaign.

Janet Napolitano, the Democratic governor of Arizona, faced a similar smear campaign in 2002 when Republicans posted “Vote Gay” posters next to her campaign posters. Harold Ford, Jr., ran for Senate in Tennessee in 2006. His single life resulted in rumors that he was gay — that is, until his Republican opponent, Bob Corker, painted him as a womanizer (and added racial undertones for greater effect).

Are Minnesota Republicans as adept at whisper campaigns as Rove? Probably not. But the term “lifestyle,” employed by party chair Ron Carey, is certainly a loaded term; it’s commonly used in religious-right circles as a derogatory term connoting gays and lesbians.

Notice that the DFL was totally silent about the gay-baiting. Lifestyle is definitely a code word. The DFL won’t publically go after gay-baiting. They never have about Michele Bachmann - even though that’s major political liability.

But then why should they. They get unconditional support from most so-called “gay rights groups” who do more to be allies in progressive coalitions, than what their mission is about - which is gay rights.

Harold Ford was a notorious womanizer - but still pranced around championing "traditional marriage" while campaigning for the Senate. He deserved to lose. If we are going to talk about lifestyles, why not talk about Norm Coleman's "unconventional marriage" as AM 1280's Mitch Berg calls it - or to put it more bluntly: the Norm Coleman lifestyle. I get a bit tired hearing gays getting blamed for the distruction of the institution of marriage when it appears that the people doing that are the straight people involved in said legal marriages.