A new theory of the Republican Closet?

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GWB's adventures in the homophobe closet This morning's breakfast and coffee was livened up by an interesting op-ed piece in the opinion section of the New York Times.

And it made me wonder what it must feel like to be a member of the Log Cabin Republicans these days. Do you feel vindicated about being out, seeing the scorn heaped upon your closeted colleagues as they fall out of their garment bags? Do you feel saddened by the wreckage strewn about in their personal and professional lives? Do you feel angry and exasperated by the way these men have consistently pushed policies that have obviously been harmful to themselves as well as well as to so many others? Or do you find yourself just increasingly bewildered and puzzled by the sheer number of staunchly conservative "family values" Republican leaders who seem to be living double lives?

For all those in the bewildered and puzzled category, Gail Collins has a new hypothosis: It isn't the lightening storms and the fear of being the only white man in the bathroom; it isn't the incessent hounding of the press. No, it might just be the sheer stress of being a Republican campaign leader!

After all, it's not just Craig, formerly co-chair of the Romney campaign, we're talking about. Collins reminds us that David Vitter was southern regional chair for the Giuliani campaign, and Bob Allen was head of the Florida branch of McCain's presidential campaign. This leads her to ask:

"Does lending one’s name to a Republican presidential campaign create an irresistible impulse to misbehave? Or is this the sort of job people only undertake when they feel a secret need to do penance?"

I always teach my students that correlation and causation are not the same thing, and her question illustrates this very well. After all, just because there seems to be a connection between Republican campaign leadership and sex scandal that doesn't mean that we can tell the direction of the relationship! It could be that the job leads to what she calls "misbehavior," or it could be that guilt and shame drive people people to the job. I'm sure it's more complicated than this, but it's an interesting hypothesis to consider!

Some other observations from the Gail Collins piece:

On the speed with which Mitt Romney disowned his campaign co-chair: "Romney not only wanted to distance himself from anything involving the term “he said-he said,” he was also fighting the whole school of thought that discounts the importance of a candidate’s private behavior. As the only leading Republican candidate for president who is still on his first wife, Romney wants private behavior way, way up there at the top of the list." (my emphasis)

On McCain's assertion that we want our elected officials to be role models for our kids: "We do not hire our elected officials to shape our children’s characters. We want them to pass good laws and make sensible decisions on our behalf. If something terrible happens, we want to feel that they are strong enough to get us through it. But we have very little investment in whether they’re faithful to their wives, or even whether they’re tortured by demons of sexual confusion."

I, for one, have to disagree with her last point. I feel very invested in whether or not people are tortured by "demons of sexual confusion" and though I'm very glad to see the hypocrisy of those who would push anti-sex policies revealed, it's upsetting to me that there are people stuck in positions where they feel so much shame about what they want or who they are that they end up self-destructing like this, and causing a fair amount of collateral damage along the way.

Sexual shame is dangerous to individuals, dangerous to families, and clearly even dangerous to government! So, I'm asking for your help: In the comments please leave your best suggestions for helping those shame-filled Republican party leaders to step out of their assorted closets and own up to their sexual desires. It's your patriotic duty to help!

Photo by Suzi Blakely (some rights reserved: CC "by-nc-nd")

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