Editors' Note: Guest blogger Greta Christina is editor of the new anthology, "Best Erotic Comics," and "Paying For It: A Guide by Sex Workers for Their Clients," a book of advice for sex work customers, written by sex workers and former sex workers, published by Greenery Press.
After last week's Sarah Palin hullaballoo (thanks to everyone who commented!), you'd think I'd be sticking like glue to the "I don't care about the sex lives of people who are attached to Presidential campaigns" line.
But this story, I care about.
Let me explain.
First, in case you haven't seen the story yet: John McCain's Chief of Staff, Mark Buse, is gay.
With a reported penchant for multiple partners, and a sling in his home to boot. (In, of all places, his closet. Sometimes the irony is just too obvious.) The story broke on the BlogActive site of the legendary Mike Rogers, who has given Buse the not so coveted Roy Cohn award "for working against the interests of the lesbian and gay community while living as a gay man." And it's corroborated by Michelangelo Signorile.
And I do, in fact, care. But I don't care about Buse per se, or his ex life, or what it says about him and his character.
I care about what it says about McCain.
Because the point of this story is not, "McCain's Chief of Staff is gay."
The point is about McCain. It's about McCain's hypocrisy, and lack of integrity, and willingness to suck up to the hatefully homophobic far-right wing of the Republican party -- in direct contradiction to what seem to be his own personal beliefs.
John McCain's policy positions and voting records have been dismally homophobic. He has opposed every single gay rights measure of recent years. He opposes same-sex marriage, supports the Defense of Marriage Act, and -- contrary to the "let the states decide" mantra of more moderate Republicans -- has endorsed the California ballot initiative that would overturn the existing right for same-sex couples to marry. In fact, he's even more extreme than that -- he opposes any sort of recognition for same-sex partnerships, actively campaigning for a ban on them in his home state of Arizona. He is opposed to gays serving in the military -- even in wartime, when recruiting is down and the military is desperately understaffed -- and supports the discriminatory "don't ask/ don't tell" policy. He fought and voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would have protected gays and lesbians from being fired for their sexual orientation.
And his campaign was heavily involved in writing the Republican Party platform -- a right- wing extremist platform that, among other things, supports keeping gays out of the military, a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and the right of federally- funded faith- based initiatives to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. His record on gay rights issues has been consistently pathetic.
Plus, let's not forget the Sarah Palin nomination. His pick for Vice-President is a far- right- tip- of- the- right- wing extremist wackaloon, who not only opposes same- sex marriage, but supported banning gay books from a public library, and is an active member in a far- right- wing apocalyptic evangelical church that not only believes in demons and witchcraft, but believes you can pray the gay away.
And yet apparently, John McCain doesn't have any actual problem with gay people in his personal and professional life.
According to the best information that we have at this time, McCain knows that his Chief of Staff is gay. Has known for some time. Buse was apparently only semi-closeted, in that special "all the insiders know but we just don't talk about it in public" way that used to be standard in Hollywood and is now standard among D.C. Republicans. And according to reports, McCain definitely knows -- either overtly, or in an "I'm not a complete idiot" way.
Yet Buse is John McCain's chief of staff. And has been closely and loyally affiliated with McCain for many, many years.
So apparently, John McCain doesn't have any actual problem with gay people in his personal and professional life.
So. Now. Let me sum up.
Either John McCain is genuinely opposed to gay rights in all its forms, but is willing to tolerate the presence of gay people in his life if they can help him in his career . . .
. . . or, as seems far more likely, he doesn't have any real problems with gay people. He has a close, long-standing professional connection with at least one, a man who is one of his most trusted and high-ranking staffers. And yet he is perfectly happy to sell out the queers to the far right wing of the Republican Party, in a pattern of homophobic bigotry that is relentlessly consistent, in order to gain political advantage.
If you have any remaining illusions about John McCain as an independent, straight-talking maverick with deep personal integrity who's willing to buck the political system, I suggest that you abandon them here and now. McCain's "maverick" schtick is, as I have written elsewhere, one of the biggest snow jobs in the history of American politics. And the hypocrisy that is crawling all over the Mark Buse story is just one more shiny, snowy example of it.
If it weren't for McCain's hypocrisy, the Buse story would be no more than a mildly interesting bit of "Famous Person (X) Is Gay" gossip. Which is getting less and less interesting every day. (Was there anybody on this planet who was surprised by Clay Aiken?) And I have now seen so many stories about the gay Republican mafia in D.C. that I can't even pretend to be shocked by them. I care almost not at all about Mark Buse's sex life, and I care only marginally about Mark Buse's hypocrisy, and lack of integrity, and willingness to gain personal political advantage by sucking up to the hatefully homophobic far-right wing of the Republican party.
But I do care -- a great deal -- about John McCain's.
(Crossposted from the Blowfish Blog.)