If Patrick Guerriero had truly been concerned about the integrity of the organization he headed in 2004, the Log Cabin Republicans, he would have resigned his position as president immediately after George W. Bush was re-elected to a second term in the White House in 2004. Instead, he lingered for nearly two years. Since he was so closely tied to Log Cabin’s non-endorsement of Bush in that election, his resignation would have cleared the decks and allowed the organization’s board to tap someone who did not have such bad blood with the then-Republican Administration in Washington.
With that in mind, when I first read that Clarke Cooper was elected head of Log Cabin in May, it struck me that the organization’s head had long-standing ties to the Bush family, even having served eight years, W’s entire tenure, in that good man’s Administration. It was as if his appointment was a tacit acknowledgment that the organization had erred in 2004.
I met Clarke Cooper last night at a meeting of the Los Angeles chapter of Log Cabin — at which gathering congressional candidate Mattie Fein was also present (more on that anon) — and was reasonably impressed. Time will only tell if he can show a greater commitment to building the GOP than did the first two executive directors of the organization. In his speech he pretty much said all the right things; he was willing to listen to some of the criticisms I had leveled against the organization when I approached him after his talk. While in the manner of his distingished predecessor, Patrick Sammon, he was open to criticism, he did seem a tad defensive at times.
I was impressed that he said log Cabin need to “resynchronize” with the GOP. He even called the organization a GOP auxiliary. Thanks to his Bush connections, he was able to secure meetings at the RNC. He indicated that in 2010, that process of resynchronization should be relatively easy, given that all conservatives are “on the same page” with a focus on jobs and the economy, standing up to the big-spending policies of the incumbent Administration.
There was a bit of mumbo-jumbo in his talk, but he never gave any indication that he sees the GOP as his enemy. Indeed, he does come across as a loyal Republican — and that is an improvement.
That said, in some of his public statements, he has borrowed from the lingo of the gay left. He did recently express the hope that Ann Coulter “can help other conservatives turn the corner on equality for gays and lesbian Americans.” A conservative might be a tad suspect of a word with statist connotations, preferring the ideal for which our Founders fought, which Lincoln regularly evoked and which the Gipper honored: liberty.
All that said, it is refreshing to have as the new head of Log Cabin someone who has actually worked in a Republican Administration and has contacts with party activists and officials who now what it takes to elect conservative candidates and enact conservative principles. Time will tell whether he can translate that into effective leadership of an ostensibly grassroots organization.
Importantly, R. Clarke Cooper does know how to talk Republican. Now, he just needs apply that language to gay issues. And perhaps, we might see Log Cabin (finally) put forward a conservative gay agenda.