I found it an interesting (and delightful) synchronicity that on the same evening that I was rejoining Log Cabin, across the country, Log Cabin was holding Tribute to Patrick Guerriero, the very man whose departure (from the helm of the organization) I awaitied before rejoining.
And while I have been critical of many aspects of Patrick’s leadership, I want to make clear that, while I’m glad he’s leaving Log Cabin, I recognize that he made some significant accomplishments, many of which I would not have appreciated had I not served as a club president under his predecessor.
When I spoke with club presidents last year at the organization’s New Orleans convention (as at other times over the past few years), I found that to an individual, they thought he was doing a good job — even when they disagreed with him. They related he reached out to them, returned their phone calls, listened to them and responded to their concerns. A clear contrast from conversations with my fellow club presidents in the late 1990s.
Not only was he good with the grass-roots leaders of Log Cabin, he also had warm and friendly in person with people not affiliated with Log Cabin, even its critics. The day I met him in New Orleans was the very day this blog had broken the story of a lawsuit against him. Even so, as I wrote in one of my reports on the convention:
. . . when he heard my name, he knew who I was — and still greeted me warmly. He did not fault (or otherwise show any disregard for) me. I was impressed how he maintained his cool while talking to someone who has frequently criticized his leadership. He came across as a genuinely nice guy who seemed to take criticism in stride.
Unfortunately, while he could weather criticism from conservative bloggers, he seemed to be doing everything in his power to avoid generating any criticism from national gay organizations. It may well have been that he wanted to mend fences, given the history of bad blood between those groups and his predecessor.
Now that Patrick Guerriero has left Log Cabin, his successor needs to find a way to maintain cordial relationships with those groups, working with them on issues of common concern, but not hesitating to criticize them when they attack the GOP and take left-wing stands.
In my various posts on Log Cabin, I have said much about Patrick’s leadership. I have praised his political savvy, yet faulted his politics. He seemed too much an “organization man” (as I wrote last April), “careful not to ruffle any feathers.”
And it seems that the feathers he least wanted to ruffle were those of the heads of other gay organizations and other vocal gay activists. Given their animosity to President Bush in the 2004 election, he seemed all too eager to please them, not merely with Log Cabin’s non-endorsement of the president’s reelection, but also with his attacks on the President and his top political advisor in public fora after his organization professed neutrality in the presidential race.
Not only that. When Log Cabin released a series of political ads, faulting the president for his support of the Federal Marriage Amendment, it released them in swing states in the presidential election, not in the states (or districts) of Republican Senators (or Representatives) who might be persuaded to vote against that pernicious proposal. The placement of these ads did more to hurt the incumbent president of his party than it did to influence the anticipated congressional debate on the amendment.
As Log Cabin looks to a new leader, its Board would be wise to find someone with Patrick’s personal qualities and political savvy, but it needs find someone with a stronger commitment to the GOP, an individual who is unafraid to distance himself from the left-wing rhetoric of gay groups and willing to reach out to conservatives in our nation’s capital — and around the country. When he (or she) finds that some of those conservatives don’t have that favorable any attitude toward gay people, Log Cabin’s new leader must make it his (or her) responsibility to change their minds.
After all, shouldn’t it be the job of the leader of Log Cabin to promote a more favorable image of gay people to the GOP — just as he puts forward a more favorable image of Republicans to the gay community?
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest)