Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Obama and the pink menace

During the campaign last year, the gay community was in a tizzy--which is nothing new, really, but it was a positive tiz rather than a panic tiz. Obama, we were told, intended to be a "fierce advocate" of gay rights. In gay-rights speak, that meant he was gonna do away with Don't Ask, Don't Tell, with the ironically-named Defense of Marriage Act, and put forth the necessary legislative tools to bring about full-on, balls-out same-sex marriage.

People are wrong when they say things like, "You didn't actually think a politician would follow through on campaign promises?" because that isn't where the current bitterness towards Obama is coming from. Certainly not. Most of us in the gay community assumed Obama was making these promises, and ahead in the polls, because our fellow Americans were open and supportive of these promises, wanted them to be made reality. The bitterness isn't that Obama failed (so far); the bitterness is mostly over the betrayal of the rest of America to our basic rights.

Now then. John Aravosis, who has a blog.

I've met John, once, at a coffee klatch thing in a Starbucks in midtown a few years ago. I'd been a reader of his blog for a while, and he'd expressed an interest in pushing his content a bit harder, making it a bit more relevant. He wanted input from readers, so he visited several cities, inviting readers to meet up with him for coffee and a chat. He did this in the darker days of the Bush administration, just before Katrina and Terri Schiavo blew the wheels off the Neo-Con juggernaut, so the midtown Starbucks was full of gay progressive activist blogger-readers, which is to say the Tizzy-meter was very high.

Then, as (sad to say) now, the main theme passing thru the conversations we had that night, over our lattes, was that it was maddening how straight Americans seem so apathetic to our community's lack of rights. I'm certain our conversations were an echo of the conversations women suffrage advocates once had, and African-American civil rights advocates once had. Well, not the advocates, really, but the actual women and the actual African-Americans. People sitting around in a state of mild shock over the indifference shown to their cause by people who enjoyed the full benefits of being an American citizen, a sense of 'how dare you.'

At the time, Bush was actively working against the gay community, and we were being used in political campaigns as a wedge issue to divide "real" America, rile them up, and get them to the voting booths. John was of the impression that change was on the horizon, and he wanted to know how we, his readers, felt. He listened to us, asked questions, we drained our coffees, went off into the night.

During the campaign, John's blog was a vicious supporter of Obama--even during the primary, he pushed Obama over Clinton because, let's face it, it'd been her husband who'd dropped us into the position the gay community found itself in. DOMA and DADT happened on his watch, and he'd agreed to them, and... whatever. Obama over Clinton, and Obama over McCain.

It wasn't the positions of Barack Obama, I think, that made him the natural choice of the gay community as a whole. It was what he represented. If an African-American man, on the stump, declares that he will fight for gay rights, and his poll numbers INcrease rather than DEcrease, perhaps change truly has come to straight America. Perhaps there's enough momentum to get what we deserve. The gay community threw itself very much into the Obama campaign--people who'd never done anything political in their lives were volunteering for him; Greg and I gave a lot of money and time to him; gay bloggers covered him non-stop. It wasn't that we thought he was the gay Jesus, as has been suggested by more cynical and bitter pundits. It was that he seemed to prove the American people were finally comprehending the terrible things they were doing to some segments of their own population.

A politician is a politician. He goes where the people tell him, because in the end he's voted in or out at their capricious will. Unless he's George W. Bush, but that's another blog post.

There's a quote by Mark Twain about voting. "If voting made any difference, they wouldn't let us do it." It's a funny quote, and has some truth in it, but I don't think it's right, otherwise pundits and politicians and strategists wouldn't spend so much time poring over poll data. And the polling data suggests that most Americans are fine with same-sex marriage, but the voting record suggests otherwise. California and Maine, dead in the water.

Anyway, all of the above was to make this point: John Aravosis IS stirring up anger at Obama. A few days back, the treasurer of the DNC, Andy Tobias, commented on John's blog. I don't know why Andy Tobias did this--perhaps he'd had one too many cocktails, or too much blow, or suffered a stroke, but it was a very dumb thing for a DNC official to do. Here's what Americablog--John's blog--had to say about it:

DNC Treasurer Andy Tobias joined in the comments section last night of John's latest post about the DNC's, and White House's, growing gay problem. And he wasn't very happy. He actually blamed John for the increasingly strained relationship between the gay community and the Democratic party, and then suggested that John was helping the Republicans by asking President Obama and the Democratic party to keep their promises to the gay community. I'm not sure a senior Democratic party official has ever started a bar brawl in the comments section of a blog before. Well, they have now.

And indeed they have. I'll concede that John sometimes is a bit histrionic and angry. He's got good reason to be, but, yes, he's a blogger who goes on TV and has a lot of readers so when he has a tizzy, it's a bit more influential than when I have one. And I'll concede that since he puts his ideas out there, and invites feedback, anyone is welcome to criticize him. But to have a DNC official do so this soon after the debacle in Maine is really just asking for a war.

That's all I gotta say.

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