Tuesday, September 02, 2008

How to Embarrass Virginia Republicans

The delegation of Virginia Republicans at the convention in St. Paul has been getting both good and bad coverage from media outside of the Old Dominion.

A sympathetic report aired on NPR's "All Things Considered" on Monday, in which anchor Robert Siegel visited Virginia delegates at a reception held to welcome them at the Ramada Inn. He interviewed state GOP chair Jeff Frederick, outgoing Congressman Tom Davis, and other delegates. Siegel also noted that Frederick had been "passing the hat" to raise money to send to a church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to be used to assist people harmed by Hurricane Gustav.

Unfortunately, a report on a local Minnesota TV station is likely to erase the sense of good feeling that NPR listeners might have come away with.

KSTP-TV (Channel 5), an ABC affiliate in the Twin Cities, notes that the Virginia delegation, at the direction of Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling's staff, sent back a set of entertainment and dining guides because the booklets included a section of interest to gay and lesbian tourists.

According to KSTP correspondents Elena Kibasova and Nicole Muehlhausen:

The campaign for Virginia's Lt. Governor Bill Bolling ordered 150 of the guides to give to Virginia delegates as gifts when they arrived in the Twin Cities.

But after reviewing the guide and finding it had a six-page section for gays and lesbians, they canceled their order, said AJ Kiefer, The Rake's advertising director.
And it's not just speculation on the part of the publisher that the gay-oriented section was the reason for the canceled order. There was this email from Bolling's political director, Tom Bartel:
I am so terribly sorry to do this, especially when the both of you have been so "out of your way" helpful, generous and easy to work with. But, we need to cancel the order for 150 of the "Secrets of the City" guidebooks.

Thanks for sending a copy to me so expediently, Tom. Upon looking at it, though, having a section dedicated solely to GLBT will be a BIG problem for many of our folks. We simply can't hand them out.

Please still bill us for the copy sent along with shipping, though.

Again, I'm so sorry.

What's next? Will Virginia Republicans begin to send back their annual Yellow Pages deliveries because there are listings for gay and lesbian businesses and social-service agencies?

This is just embarrassing. I know a number of people in the Virginia delegation, and I consider them to be friends and colleagues. They must be red-faced to learn that the top-ranked Republican officeholder in the state holds them in such low regard that he thinks their minds would be corrupted by seeing ads for gay-owned restaurants, book stores, or nightclubs.

It seems to me that, with his gubernatorial ambitions still alive -- if put on hold for four years -- Bolling would want to treat fellow Republicans as adults, rather than do things like this, which infantilize us.

What's ironic about this news is it comes on the heels of the news that the Log Cabin Republicans, the largest organization of gay and lesbian Republicans, has endorsed GOP presidential candidate John McCain:
Log Cabin Republicans President Patrick Sammon. "Sen. McCain is an inclusive Republican who is focusing the GOP on unifying core principles that appeal to independent voters."
It might be just a coincidence that Bolling endorsed Mitt Romney during the primaries. Maybe he's disappointed at Sarah Palin's all-but-certain nomination as the GOP vice presidential candidate, and this boneheaded move is his way of acting out.


Tom Bartel said...

Rick, just want to clear up an error in your post. You name me as Bolling's political director. I am the editor of the guidebook in question. Bolling's political director who sent me the email is Melissa Busse.

P.S. we gave 80 copies of the book to representatives of the Log Cabin group. I hope you got one.

Rick Sincere said...

Tom --

Thanks for the clarification. I must have misread the KSTP report. I appreciate your taking the time to correct the record.

EJ said...

this kind of thing is just stupid... its this kind of crap that allows the public perception and an all too happy to do so media come to the image of the republican party as a bunch of intolerant rural hicks stuck in the past. You may disagree with a public policy pertaining to gay marriage, but since when is it wrong to print material that shows gay focussed attractions? Especially when it is freely distributed and accpeted be concenting individuals? Is this violating anyone eleses rights or harm anyone else? This type of thing is exactly what is wrong with the modern republican party and my views of bolling just fell a few points.

steve Waters said...

Rick, you might not remember me but I was Bob Marshall's campaign manager for the senate race. I want to congratulate you on a great site. The politics and culture aspect of your site are very refreshing. Bolling's office disagrees with ABC's story and says they reported the story inaccurately. They say the other news agencies reported the story correctly. I have researched it but have not found any story different from the ABC report so far but I continue to look. Once again great job!