In their reactions to the withdrawal of the Miers nomination, both the Human Rights’ Campaign (HRC) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) show that they have absolutely no understanding of American conservatism, the dominant political philosophy in America today. Joe Solmonese, HRC”s president, claimed last week that her withdrawal “demonstrates that the president is beholden to extremist groups rather than to the American people”
Had this many paid any attention to the conservative debate over her nomination? While several pretty “extreme” social conservatives, namely Focus on the Family‘s James Dobson and Pat Robertson, supported the nomination, many mainstream conservatives, indeed, many libertarian conservatives opposed it. (Indeed, as I noted when I first blogged on the nomination, I was “troubled” that Ms. Miers’ “most enthusiastic support . . . came from social conservatives.”)
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force had a similar reaction suggesting that its leadership has spent more time reading its own press releases and other left-wing interpretations of the conservative movement than paying any attention to that movement itself. Its president, Matt Foreman, called Miers’ withdrawal “a sorry testament to the absolute control right-wing evangelicals have over this administration.” Moreover, he claimed that “Miers’ intellectual and professional abilities and accomplishments were never really on the table.” Actually, had he bothered to read conservative op-eds and blogs on the nomination, he would have noted that criticism of her intellectual ability, particularly her lack of demonstrated understanding of complex constitutional issues, was at the heart of countless conservative critiques of her nomination.
Instead of looking at the real story of the conservative opposition to Ms. Miers’ nomination, HRC and NGLTF once again recycle their talking points about how President Bush is beholden to “right-wing extremists.” But those talking points are not based on the reality of the Bush Administration, but on their narrow image of American conservatism.
Given that for the past six election cycles, Republicans have won a majority of the vote in congressional elections, given that conservative ideas today dominate public policy discourse and given that Republicans control both the executive and legislative branches in Washington — as well as an increasing number of state houses — and given the growing influence of conservative judges, it should be imperative that these groups, if they are truly interested in helping gay and lesbian Americans, should at least try to understand conservative ideas. Reading this blog would be a good start.
It’s time that these gay and lesbian organizations take the time to engage modern conservatism as a valid intellectual force rather than attempt to dismiss it by calling it “extremist.”
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com