We celebrate an anniversary this year that many of you may not have known existed. In 2012, we say “happy birthday” to Family Values. Not the actual, loving kind passed on from generations of parents to generations of children, but the political kind— the kind that scoundrels like Limbaugh and Hannity can use to score points with among the intellectually lazy (and the occasional self-loathing gay).
It’s hard to believe that it was in 1992 that then-Vice President J. Danforth Quayle gave a speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in which he cited the decay of moral values and the family structure as causes for the Los Angeles riots. During that history-making “preach” to “choir,” Quayle memorably referred to a TV character— “Murphy Brown,” of the eponymous hit CBS sitcom, who was portrayed by actress Candice Bergen as a single mother— as contributing to the nation’s “poverty of values.”
Long after the ticket of Bush (41)/Quayle had dropped into the “Miscellaneous Presidents” section of the history books, the former late-night talk punching bag’s “Murphy Brown speech” has continued to have an impact on American politics.
The vile and un-American Rick Santorum (who isn’t fit to shine Quayle’s shoes) similarly demagogued the issue last week at the 2012 Values Voters Summit (the heritors of Quayle’s Jeremiad on the Death of the American Family), but with the GOP’s favored 21st Century twist: Pitting the smart (and unpatriotic) with the, um, less-smart (and true-blooded Americans): “We will never have the elite, smart people on our side, because they believe they should have the power to tell you what to do,” Santorum bleated to the assembled, conjuring the same kind of class war He & Co. accuse liberals of fomenting, but in this case, the message is taken right out of the medieval church’s playbook: ’Tis better to be ignorant if one would live in a state of grace.
“So our colleges and universities, they’re not going to be on our side,” Santorum added—as if there was a measure of pride to be had in being found to be intellectually bankrupt. I guess that never stopped W. “The basic premise of America and American values will always be sustained through two institutions—the church and the family.”
Sadly, his “ideas” are perfectly at home in the Republican Party of Election 2012. And to Santorum’s credit, he knows who his audience is. He doesn’t need to tap dance around the niceties of “Big Tent” politics because he knows what Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud are clearly in denial about: That there is no room in that tent, on a national level, for RepubliQueers. If Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were offering more than platitudes about doing things better than Obama, and invoking the Shades of Reagan and a glorious Republican past that doesn’t really exist (see the crashand- burn of Newt Gingrich, and his subsequent sacrifice by his fellow “priests” of the right –including a younger John Boehner—upon the altar of selfinterest and avarice to see what the House leadership really thinks about Conservative Principles), then I might be willing to seriously consider “de-horsing” midstream. Unfortunately for them, all I can filter out from the cognitive dissonance of Rush & The Dittoheads is a general dislike of Obama that seems to center upon his “otherness” (he’s African-American, he was raised outside America, he may be Muslim, he may not be a citizen).
Thankfully for those on the Rational Right and the Sensible Center, Bill O’Reilly and other legit traditionalists have thrown a damp rag on that fire. Sadly, the embers won’t seem to die.
The funny thing is, it is a portrayal of “otherness” that Republicans want to use to deny LGBT Americans our full measure of civil rights—as opposed to some patronizing “separate but equal” version granted to us by our “betters— and which they used last week to great effect to talk up their defense—their “conservation”— of traditional marriage against the forces of progress and liberalism.
Their “defense” of marriage, an institution that has been subject to change and adaptability since the dawn of man, is a signpost of their true agenda: To sustain the legacy of Jim Queer—a truly conservative goal.