Republican candidates: Obama’s biggest plus

Herman Cain and Gov. Rick Perry

Herman Cain and Gov. Rick Perry

 

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

One after another, Republican presidential candidates seem determined to self-destruct, which puts the Democratic incumbent ahead of the pack

Anyone wanting to see President Barack Obama serve a second term in the White House for the sake of LGBT equality has got to be feeling pretty good about now as his Republican challengers struggle to survive what must be one of the most peculiar national campaign seasons ever.

When the Republican candidates aren’t self-destructing in mass, they appear to be too busy destroying each other to make any headway with the nation’s voters.

Herman Cain, the black, anti-gay Georgia businessman who has led the pack of Republican contenders for president in recent weeks, likely will soon suffer a steep plunge in opinion polls as a result of several women telling the New York Times and other members of the media he sexually harassed them years ago.

Cain calls the allegations “baseless,” but Republican heavyweights, such as Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, are showing signs of nervousness and demanding answers as the controversy persists and the number of allegations grows.

Cain attempted at first to brush off the allegations by refusing to discuss them with the media. But that strategy obviously collapsed earlier this week when he finally called a press conference on the campaign trail near Phoenix to answer the charges. The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO denied guilt and defiantly vowed to remain in the presidential race.

In a debate with the other Republican candidates this week in Michigan, Cain insisted the sexual harassment allegations would not affect his campaign. He cited a continuing flow of campaign contributions from his supporters as proof of his invincibility.

That resolve could dissipate though if more details of Cain’s alleged improprieties emerge: Two of four women whom Cain allegedly sexually harassed when he was head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s have spoken out publicly. And a fifth report has emerged that he made a woman with whom he dined uncomfortable by allegedly asking her for an introduction to another woman — in addition to sticking her for an $800 bill for two bottles of wine. The dinner followed a speech Cain gave to USAID in Egypt in 2002, according to the Washington Examiner.

Although Cain and his handlers no doubt thought that trying to ignore the controversy might make it go away, he instead came off to many as arrogant and inept.

Things aren’t going any better for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who quickly ascended in the polls after he announced his candidacy for president earlier in the fall. But Perry, another major foe of the LGBT community, fell to the bottom just as fast after giving a series of poor debate performances with other GOP candidates.

The governor continued his fall from grace when he spoke at an event in New Hampshire recently and appeared to be under the influence of some sort of intoxicant, although he issued a denial and attributed the odd behavior to a casual speaking style he had adopted for the evening.

In the Republican debate this week Perry again stumbled by not being able to remember the name of a federal agency he wanted to eliminate if he were elected president. Before the debate Cain’s answer to the sexual harassment question was expected to dominate news coverage afterwards, but Perry’s slip-up instead became the lead.

It was Cain’s second break of the evening during the debate. Earlier, Romney had declined to answer a question about whether he thought Cain was unfit for the presidency because of the sexual harassment allegations.

The problems stunting the Cain and Perry campaigns ordinarily would work to the advantage of the other major Republican contender, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, but the savagery the other GOP candidates’ campaigns will inflict on him in coming months no doubt will offset the advantage.

Political analysts expect Romney, who also demanded answers from Cain this week, will be portrayed in multi-millions of dollars’ worth of advertising as a flip-flopper who can’t be trusted by Republican voters.

For that matter, LGBT voters probably can’t trust Romney either — and we certainly cannot trust Cain or Perry, who already have made it clear they would not support gay rights issues.

In the case of Romney, he does indeed appear to have flip-flopped on issues. Although he once seemed supportive of the LGBT community when he was the governor of Massachusetts, there’s no telling what stand he might take in an effort to win the Republican nomination and the presidency.

As for Perry, his disdain for the LGBT community is well known in Texas. He has long fought rumors that he is secretly gay, and that could be part of the reason for his vehement opposition to any LGBT human rights advances. It was for that reason the picture of him going down on a corn dog at a state fair made him the laughing stock of the country.

Likewise, Cain has already vowed to reverse any gay rights gains seen during Obama’s administration, and the revelations about his alleged sexual harassment of women should concern all LGBT voters. If he repeatedly treated women over whom he had power with disrespect, it’s unlikely that he showed any mercy to gay and lesbian associates he encountered.

But despite the dangers the three major Republican candidates pose to the gay rights movement, the one who wins the nomination will enjoy significant LGBT support. Many LGBT voters believe the Republican Party’s policies regarding the economy, national defense and other issues represent the best course for the country — regardless of the impact on the gay rights movement.

The saving grace for gay rights activists who want to see Obama remain in office is that the Republican Party has failed to come up with a candidate to electrify the nation’s voters. As discouraging as the country’s economic situation remains, Obama continues to outpoll other candidates and would likely win the election if it were held today.

And — at least at this time — it appears unlikely any of the Republican candidates are going to change that scenario by Election Day next year.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November, 11, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Gov. Rick Perry won’t join anti-gay boycott of CPAC — in fact, he’ll be a keynote speaker

Gov. Rick Perry

As we’ve mentioned before, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has apparently opted not to join the growing anti-gay boycott of this year’s “Republican Woodstock” — the annual Conservative Political Action Conference next week.

In fact, according to the Dallas Morning News, Perry has landed a keynote speaking slot at CPAC, where he may be rubbing elbows with people like Lt. Dan Choi. (Note that the first and only comment below the DMN post is this: “Why no mention of the speakers not coming to CPAC this year because of the presence of Gay Republicans?”)

Lawmakers boycotting CPAC this year over the inclusion of the gay Republican group GOProud include Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. And the boycott is being led by some of Perry’s favorite groups — such as the Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation.

Alas, it appears politics and ego will always trump conviction and loyalty for Perry, who may have his sights set on the White House in 2012. But again, why no backlash from the right-wingers in Texas who’ve been so supportive of Perry?

Anyhow, we’re hoping Perry seeks the Republican presidential nomination next year. If nothing else, a national campaign will undoubtedly mean a much closer look at those pesky gay rumors.

UPDATE: Perry will make it to CPAC, but he won’t make it to the Super Bowl in his own state. Plus, he wasn’t around for Texas’ cold weather emergency this week. He’s in Southern California. What a douche.

—  John Wright

Well, it looks like Gary Floyd won’t be taking home an OutMusic award tonight

Not really sure how I missed this, but the OutMusic Awards which were scheduled for tonight (hump day? really?) aren’t happening — for now. OutMusic announced the awards will be postponed until Spring 2011 due to a sponsor abruptly pulling out of the ceremony. According to the letter on their website, proceeding with the awards would have been a strain on their budget. I’ve pasted the entire notice after the jump.

Unfortunately, this means we’ll have to wait on whether local musician Gary Floyd is a winner. We mentioned last month that he is up for three OutMusic awards.

I fail to see how this could have happened. The 2010 awards was to be the follow-up to an astounding success of a revival when the awards were brought back last year.  According to their site, “The 2009 OUTMUSIC Awards had a record breaking attendance of 2,000 attendees. Our OUTMUSIC Awards television media sponsor Logo TV of MTV Networks, helped the organization make history by airing the Best Moments of the 2009 OUTMUSIC Awards reaching 40 million viewers. We had a host of other media sponsors via online, radio, and live event producers across the nation, moving us one step closer to achieving Equality in the music industry and the world we live in!”

Talk about ramping up to a letdown. They aren’t revealing the sponsor’s name, but if you’re curious, you can check out the list of the 2010 OMA sponsors here and make your assumptions.

—  Rich Lopez

Former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman, who headed Bush’s 2004 campaign, comes out as gay

Ken Mehlman

Gay blogger Mike Rogers, a pretty reliable source when it comes to these things, is reporting that former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, who served as President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign manager, is set to come out of the closet — in an Atlantic magazine column to be published Friday or early next week. Before leading what Rogers calls “the most homophobic national campaign in history,” Mehlman served as chief of staff to Texas Congresswoman Kay Granger and legislative director for Texas Congressman Lamar Smith. From Rogers: 

So, how can Ken Mehlman redeem himself? I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for being the architect of the 2004 Bush reelection campaign. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for his role in developing strategy that resulted in George W. Bush threatening to veto ENDA or any bill containing hate crimes laws. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for the pressing of two Federal Marriage Amendments as political tools. I want to hear from Ken that he is sorry for developing the 72-hour strategy, using homophobic churches to become political arms of the GOP before Election Day.

And those state marriage amendments. I want to hear him apologize for every one of those, too.

And then there is one other little thing. You see, while you and I had the horrible feelings of being treated so poorly by our President, while teens were receiving the messaging ‘gay is bad’ giving them ‘permission’ to gay bash, while our rights were being stripped away state by state, Ken was out there laughing all the way to the bank. So, if Ken is really sorry, and he very well may be, then all he needs to do is sell his condo and donate the funds to the causes he worked against so hard for all those years. He’s done a lot of damage to a lot of organizations, while making a lot of money. A LOT of money. It’s time to put his money where his mouth is. Ken Mehlman is sitting in a $3,770,000.00 (that’s $3.77 million) condo in Chelsea while we have lost our right to marry in almost 40 states.

THEN, and only then, should Mehlman be welcomed into our community.

Read more at blogactive.com.

UPDATE: The Atlantic’s story is now up:

“It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life,” Mehlman said. “Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I’ve told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they’ve been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that’s made me a happier and better person. It’s something I wish I had done years ago.”

—  John Wright