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August 26, 2010

Ken Mehlman and the Constitution

How nice for former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman to come out as a gay man in the comfy confines of The Atlantic.

As George W. Bush's campaign manager in 2004, and then as RNC chair between 2005 and 2007, Mehlman was silent as his political masters cynically exploited anti-gay sentiment for their political purposes. Lest we forget, Bush said this in February 2004:

"The union of a man and a woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society."

By itself, this principle is not cynical. It may be heartfelt.

What's cynical is the political use toward which this sentiment was put. Then in his reelection bid, seeking to rally his conservative base, Bush in February 2004 called for a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and woman. Ban gay marriage, in other words.

What's cynical is the pretense that the presidential candidate's words were a matter of reasoned policy rather than raw, red meat for those opposed to homosexual sodomy. The whole point of the Bush/Mehlman position was to excite certain voters and to drive them to the polls.The whole point was to motivate those who are revolted by gay men like, well, like Ken Mehlman, and to get them voting.

What's cynical is that a smart Harvard Law School graduate like Ken Mehlman knew very well that there was never going to be a constitutional amendment. The bar is too high, deliberately. The Founding Fathers who Ken Mehlman studied in law school deliberately made it hard to amend the Constitution in order to protect the document from political hacks like Ken Mehlman.

What's cynical is that a smart political operator like Ken Mehlman knew the president was never, ever going to use one ounce of political capital actually working for a constitutional amendment. Mehlman and his political masters were playing the conservative base for suckers, letting them believe that the president shared their sentiments, leading them on with a wink and then abandoning them like rough trade once they'd served their purpose.

What's cynical is the notion that Ken Mehlman now gets to write the terms of his own redemption.


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Spot on! If it weren't for wedge issues and scapegoats the Republican party would starve to death.

Scarpe Nike

Q: Which is the strongest creature in the world?
A: The snail. It carries its house on its back.

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"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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