In doing some research on the background of Massachusetts Republican Senate nominee Scott Brown, I uncovered an interesting factoid. That good man was first elected to the Massachusetts Senate in a special election to replace Cheryl Jacques who had resigned her seat to take up the presidency of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
That partisan woman wouldn’t last a year, stepping down in November shortly after the project which defined her tenure at that left-wing organization failed. Under her leadership, HRC sunk untold sums into stickers and signs with the slogan, “George W. Bush, you’re fired!”
Well, just as her erstwhile constituents didn’t pay much heed to Jacuqes in March of 2004, preferring Brown to her aide, Angus McQuilken, neither did American voters pay heed to her attempt to unseat W. Let’s hope Brown shows a similar resilience next week.
Please find below the text of my post, “Cheryl Jacques, You’re Fired” from November 2004. It disappeared when someone hijacked our original site on blogspot.
This summer at “Christopher Street West,” L.A.’s gay pride event, Human Rights Campaign (HRC) activists passed on stickers reading, “George W. Bush, You’re Fired!” They thought they were cute playing off Donald Trump’s tag line in “THE APPRENTICE.” Many people took the stickers and put them on. Yet, I wonder what exactly this summertime gimmick accomplished.
I’m sure many felt an emotional rush when they pasted a sticker on their T-shirts, backpacks or, (in the case of one topless lesbian) their nipples much akin to the rush I felt last night when I exclaimed, “Four more years” to the anti-Bush protesters at Hollywood & Highland. But, it didn’t cost me anything to speak out last night. It costs a little more to print tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of stickers than it does to verbally challenge mean-spirited protesters.
So, I ask, why did HRC go to such expense to bash the president of the United States? I mean, isn’t their purpose to lobby the federal government on gay rights’ issues? And doesn’t that defeat your lobbying purpose when you make clear that you want the chief executive defeated? How can you influence a man you continually malign? I mean, what happens if he wins reelection? (In other words, what happens now that he just won reelection?)
It wasn’t just the stickers. In an “Open Letter to the Community,” HRC President Cheryl Jacques writes, “[f]or more than a year, thousands of HRC staff, board members, volunteers and members from across America poured our hearts and souls into defeating George W. Bush…” (Click on the title of this post for the full text of the letter.) For the record, it was less than a year ago that the President endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment. Thus, according to its President, HRC has been “pouring” its “hearts and souls” as well as a lot of time and money “into defeating [President] Bush” while he was still making up his mind whether to back an amendment to the constitution defining marriage.
How could HRC hope to influence him on amending the constitution — or on any other issue — when it was already working to defeat him?
It seems that HRC, like many gay political organizations, is more interested in defeating (or maligning) Republicans than it is lobbying politicians on gay issues. That’s not a good way to influence America’s majority party.
For the sixth election in a row, American voters have elected Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress. For the sixth election in a row, Americans have chosen Republicans to be governors of a majority of the states. Just this week, a majority of American voters reelected George W. Bush to a second term as president. Since Jimmy Carter’s election in 1976, the only candidates for president who have received a majority of the popular vote have been Republicans.
Now, many of our readers will claim that HRC is right to attack Republicans because many (Republicans) don’t support HRC’s agenda. If HRC declared its purpose to elect gay-friendly Democrats to office, I would not disagree with you. Yet, its mission statement defines HRC as
a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity, to ensure that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
Indeed, HRC rejected its own professed commitment to bipartisanship in the Pennsylvania Senate race this year when it backed Democrat Joe Hoeffel over one of the most gay-friendly Republicans in the Senate, Arlen Specter. Specter is poised to become the next Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee through which much of the legislation on gay & lesbian issues passes. Not only that, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings on judicial nominees.
My sources on Capitol Hill tell me that the incoming Judiciary Committee chairman is “fuming” at HRC’s slight. Looks like HRC’s partisanship cost it access to one of the most powerful Senators in the new Congress, a man who might otherwise be favorably disposed to their ideas.
Just as HRC violated its claimed commitment to bipartisanship by failing to endorse Republican Senator Arlen Specter, it has been working to defeat President Bush before he took a stand on the Federal Marriage Amendment. Such partisanship limits its ability to influence the party which controls two branches of the federal government — and which now appoints the third.
Indeed, according to Ms. Jacques own letter, HRC leaders have poured heart and soul into defeating George W. Bush. Well, HRC’s summertime gimmick notwithstanding, a majority of the American people want George W. Bush to keep his job for another four years.
Neither the president nor members of his administration are likely to be open to members of an organization which has worked so diligently to defeat him. The incoming gay-friendly chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is upset that HRC ignored his long record of support for items on HRC’s agenda. Something which takes a lot of courage for a Senator representing a state whose Republican base includes many social conservatives.
HRC worked long and hard to defeat the President. And yet he still managed to win a convincing victory — with over one million gay & lesbian votes. If HRC is to be true to its mission statement, to be an effective lobbying force and to provide a “national voice on gay and lesbian issues,” it’s time for new leadership at HRC. Leaders who did not pour their hearts and souls into defeating the president.
In short, it’s time to paraphrase its summertime gimmick. It’s time for HRC to say, “Cheryl Jacques, You’re Fired!”
UPDATE: A reader writes in to note that during the Republican Convention this summer in NYC, HRC hired trucks to drive through the city bearing signs which read “George W. Bush, You’re Fired!” Who were they trying to influence? I mean, did HRC actually think GOP delegates who spent thousands of dollars to go the convention (not to mention all the political capital, such as years of activism for GOP causes, it takes to win election as a delegate) would read those signs and change their minds about a man whose nomination they came to celebrate?