Monday, December 18, 2006

A Rich Laugh Fit for a Dame

Frank Rich is one astute social commentator.

He can also be very funny.

He’s December 17 New York Times op-ed, entitled “Mary Cheney’s Bundle of Joy”, provides well-deserved Christmas cheer to all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) folks, along with their families, friends and allies.

Why? Because it succinctly (and at times, humorously) documents the recent and rapid decline of the neo-conservative agenda against GLBT people in the face of what Rich describes as “the inexorable march of social history”.

Maybe it’s the holiday season, maybe it’s the relaxed atmosphere I’m enjoying here on the Australian coast, but if I had to describe my response to the (welcome) decline of the neo-conservatives back in the States, I’d have to defer to the response Dame Edna Everage usually displays when discussing the fall from grace of those whom she finds objectionable: “We really shouldn’t laugh, should we, possums?” the good Dame asks, while making no attempt whatsoever to surpress her trademark chortle.

Anyway, feel free to respond as you will to Frank Rich’s latest op-ed, from which the following is excerpted:

The 2006 midterms left Karl Rove’s supposedly foolproof playbook in tatters. It was hard for the Republicans to deal the gay card one more time after the Mark Foly and Ted Haggard scandals revealed that today’s conservative hierarchy is much like Roy Cohn’s mileu in Angels in America, minus the wit and pathos.

This time around, ballot initiatives banning same-sex marriage drew markedly less support than in 2004; the draconian one endorsed by [John] McCain in Arizona was voted down altogether. Two national politicians who had kowtowed egregiously to their party’s fringe, Rick Santorum and George Allen, were defeated, joining their ideological fellow travelers Tom DeLay and Ralph Reed in the political junkyard. To further confirm the inexorable march of social history, the only Christmas miracle to lift the beleaguered Bush administration this year has been the announcement that Mary Cheney, the vice president’s gay daughter, is pregnant. Her growing family is the living rejoinder to those in her father’s party who would relegate gay American couples and their children to second-class legal or human status.

. . . A Washington Post-ABC News poll last week found that among Republicans voters, Rudy Giuliani, an unabashed liberal on gay civil rights and abortion, leads Mr. McCain 34 percent to 26 percent. [Mitt] Romney [the Republican Massachusetts governor who flip-flopped to the right on both gay civil rights and abortion] brought up the rear, at 5 percent. That does, however, put him nominally ahead of another presidential wannabe, the religious-right favorite Sam Brownback, who has held up a federal judicial nomination in the Senate because the nominee had attended a lesbian neighbor’s commitment ceremony.

For those who are cheered by seeing the Rovian politics of wedge issues start to fade, the good news does not end with the growing evidence that gay-baiting may do candidates who traffic in it more harm than good. It’s not only centrist American voters of both parties who reject divisive demagoguery but also conservative evangelicals themselves. Some of them are at last standing up to the extremists in their own camp.

. . . The axis of family jihadis – Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association – is feeling the heat; its positions get more extreme by the day. A Concerned Women for America mouthpiece called Mary Cheney’s pregnancy “unconscionable,” condemning her for having “injured her child” and “acted in a way that denies everything that the Bush administration has worked for.” (That last statement, thankfully, is true.) This overkill reeks of desperation. So does these zealots’ recent assault on the supposedly feminizing “medical” properties of soy baby formula (which deserves the “blame for today’s rise in homosexuality,” according to the chairman of Megashift Ministries), and penguins.

Yes penguins. These fine birds have now joined the Teletubbies and SpongeBob SquarePants in the pantheon of cuddly secret agents for “the gay agenda.” Schools are being forced to defend And Tango Makes Three, an acclaimed children’s picture book based on the true story of two Central Park Zoo male penguins who adopted a chick from a fertilized egg. The hit penguin movie Happy Feet has been outed for an “anti-religious bias” and its endorsement of gay identity” by Michael Medved, the commentator who sets the tone for the religious right’s strictly enforced code of cultural political correctness.”

“Such censoriousness is increasing the stuff of comedy,” notes Rich towards the end of his op-ed.

We really shouldn’t laugh, I know. But for now, at least, in this festive holiday season, let’s take a brief break from the good fight and share at least a smile, if not a chuckle, at the sorry state of affairs of the neo-conservative movement in the States.

I’m sure that given half the chance, even Dame Edna wouldn't hesitant joining us in such revelry. Would she now, possums!

See also the previous Wild Reed posts, The Gay Old Party Comes Out and Actually, I Do Feel Like Dancing.

Recommended Off-site Link: End of the Neo-con Dream by Paul Reynolds (BBC World Affairs correspondent).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed this piece.