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National Review Lacks Any Shred of Human Feeling

I always suspected that the folks over at National Review were heartless and lacked a shred of human feeling, and now I have former Bush administration speechwriter Joshua Trevino to confirm it for me. Writing about conservative Republican San Diego … Read More

By / October 3, 2007

I always suspected that the folks over at National Review were heartless and lacked a shred of human feeling, and now I have former Bush administration speechwriter Joshua Trevino to confirm it for me. Writing about conservative Republican San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders's tearful announcement of his support for gay marriage last month, Trevino admits, "It was a moving sight for anyone with a heart and a shred of human feeling." The reason for the Mayor's change of heart, according to Trevino, is "his daughter’s homosexuality."

Bemoaning those who have heaped plaudits upon Sanders for his courage, Trevino offers this total non sequitur:

Courage typically signifies the hewing to core principles in the face of adversity, not their abandonment in the face of personal vicissitude. In the 1988 presidential campaign, the second debate between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis was marked by the infamous query from moderator Bernard Shaw: “Governor, if Kitty Dukakis were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?” Dukakis sealed his electoral fate by sticking to his guns on the issue, reminding Shaw, “I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life.” One imagines Jerry Sanders in that position, announcing that perhaps, with a family member involved, he is not so opposed to the death penalty after all. The Mayor of San Diego has therefore achieved something truly remarkable, in making us sentimental for the political courage of Michael Dukakis.

Say what you will about Michael Dukakis' debate performance (and I never thought I'd be defending The Duke); it sure took courage for him to stick to his guns and maintain his principled opposition to the death penalty in response to a question so clearly intended to elicit a flip-flop. Of course, there's no way to know if Dukakis would actually maintain his opposition if his wife ever were to be raped and murdered, but that's beside the point. Dukakis didn't give the easy answer the pundits expected him to give. In turn, he came off looking cold and politically stupid, but sometimes there are more important thing in the world than giving focus group answers to focus group questions. What isn't beside the point is Trevino's assertion that Sanders' newfound support for gay marriage rests entirely upon the fact that the Mayor's daughter is gay, that it's all due to the understandable "parental impetus" of "protecting his daughter." I never thought I'd see the day when a true-blue conservative claims that these familial instincts represent a negative force on politics, but then again, gays are being bashed so all bets are off.

The case for gay marriage is, without question, for those of us who are gay or have family members or friends who are gay, personal. But it is no more personal than the cause of black civil rights was to black people (or their friends and relatives) in the 1960's.

It must be a shared principal of any liberal politics that we're all in this together–irrespective of our immutable traits. Trevino's inability to recognize homosexuals as homosexuals--in his ridiculous assertion that "Sanders' lesbian daughter has the same marital rights now as does his other, heterosexual daughter"–indicates that he's incapable of even empathizing with gays, never mind capable of seeing why they're deserving of equal citizenship. Of this assertion, a friend writes: "Fine, but would you want to be married to a lesbian? Another way to put it: Are former Bush speechwriters really that desperate for a date?" Apparently they are.

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