When Mitt Romney becomes too liberal for the GOP base, you know it's time to worry.
That's just what seems to be happening, though, among the fervent few in the Republican party who hold tight to the idea that the further to the right they move, the harder God will work, surely, for them to keep the White House in 2008. It is certainly true for conservative pundit Elaine Donnelly, who doesn't seem sure in a recent rant in the Washington Times, if she can even trust the former Governor to do the right thing by the armed forces. Donnelly, who spends most of her time doing a very poor imitation of Ann Coulter for the conservative masses, slaps around Romney and even former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (whose supporters were seen praying - yes, praying - for a caucus victory last night in Iowa) for being supposedly soft on the issue of gays in the military.
It's enough to make you wonder where you have to get your passport stamped in order to visit the planet these people must live on.
Donnelly, of course, is no stranger to the fringe right of the Republican party. In fact, they gave birth to her. In 1984, during the Reagan White House, Donnelly was appointed by then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), which was charged with looking at issues related to women's service in the armed forces.
Donnelly immediately went to work to try and tear apart DACOWITS and roll-back job opportunities for female service members. She's been a strong opponent of equality in the military for women ever since.
Now, of course, Donnelly is turning her attention to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Ms. Donnelly, who directs the ironically named Center for Military Readiness, is also against fighting the terrorists, if those doing our fighting happen to be gay. Military readiness, she believes, is one field where only white, straight, Christian men can succeed. No one else, she seems to assert, has anything to bring to the table when it comes to our national defense.
That, of course, is non-sense, but most of what Donnelly says falls into that category, anyway.
However, her latest review of the GOP presidential field - and her stinging critique of some of the candidates - seems like a further leap from reality than even she usually dares to take.
Hammering at the Republican hopefuls for not being "right" on the issue, Donnelly says that, because Romney neglected to answer her survey on the question of gays in the military, there are "questions about positions taken previously." "We still do not know Mr. Romney's position on the 1993 law," Donnelly writes with some dismay.
(One assumes she was out recruiting good GOP patriots for military service during the recent GOP debate when Romney made clear that he supports keeping the ban in place.)
Her ire doesn't end with the former Governor of (ah! now maybe we understand her consternation?) Massachusetts. She also has it out for the conservative, Baptist minister of the GOP's bombastic bunch, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
"Mr. Huckabee," she points out, also endorses the 1993 law banning homosexuals from the military, but with contradictions. In a transcribed interview with Associated Press editors reported April 24, 2007, Mr. Huckabee said, 'I'm not sure that being homosexual should automatically disqualify a person from the military. If a person can do his or her job, you know that's not for me the biggest issue.'"
Hell hath no fury like Elaine Donnelly dealing with Southern Baptists scorn.
"This statement," she opines, "fails to recognize that the military differs from civilian occupations. Discipline and morale are essential, and the law states that homosexuals are not eligible to serve. When asked about Mr. Huckabee's incongruous statement to AP, his campaign said he still supports the 1993 law."
But that, you see, is the problem. Elaine Donnelly doesn't support "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" at all. She supports fully bigoted, unapologetically intrusive and God-fearingly righteous asking.
Yes, Elaine Donnelly likes to look through your key hole, and she better not see you grinding with a member of the same sex.
This complete dismissal of truly conservative ideals - which have traditionally teetered on the border of libertarian - would surely make even President Reagan roll over in his grave. For God's sake, even former Congressman Bob Barr disagrees with Donnelly, and has called for an end to the ban.
One would think, once she had lost Barr (and told herself she'd lost Romney and Huckabee), that Elaine would be left to dance alone. But, no.
In true GOP fashion, there's someone dancing to the right of the right, and Donnelly is swooning like a suburban Michigan high school prom (drama) queen.
Her king, of course, is (thankfully) retiring GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter.
Hunter, who has long done Donnelly's bidding in the House of Representatives, has also been one of the most vocal critics of open service, despite my feeble attempts to woo him out of Elaine's arms.
And so, predictably enough, she bathes him in conservative after-glow on her website, writing that "...Duncan Hunter has shown consistent leadership on military social issues. In 1993 he supported 'the question' about homosexuality that used to be on induction forms."
No one has wanted Duncan Hunter to pop the question as much as Elaine Donnelly.
Fortunately for us, Hunter's campaign doesn't have enough supporters to pull together even a small wedding party (and certainly not enough people to manage Elaine's hair alone), but the fact that there are some in the GOP who run to people like him is enough to make one wonder if LSD isn't still fashionable in some circles.
There seems to be a world out there, somewhere in America, where we'd rather be bombed than have a gay soldier translate a terrorist message... where we treat female troops as second-class citizens even while fighting enemies who treat women the same way... where gender and sexual orientation trumps qualification and patriotism. And we know we've just about gotten there when even Romney isn't "right" enough for some.