As Some day it may happen that a victim must be found
I’ve got a little list, I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be under ground
And never would be missed, who never would be missed.
A recent comment of Robert Peters (a pleasure, as always, to read) reminds me how remiss I have been in doing my duty as online columnist. If I were a newspaper columnist, this would be the time to write the column that is the literary equivalent of “jumping the shark,” namely, a column on why I am having trouble writing my column. I’ll spare you that and limit this preface to supplying a few excuses.
First, I am working on a book, which we are going to post serially (for $$$) on a website linked to this one. When I am not actually writing or contemplating the chapters of this book, I am reading and studying. To make matters worse, my time has been absorbed by preparations for the Charleston Winter School—now, alas, over—and for the forthcoming Convivium in Northern Italy. Ask me something about Cangrande della Scala or Doge Marin Faliero, but don’t expect to hear anything enlightening about our Irish president, Barry O’Bama, or the cast of a thousand clowns that hopes to take his place.
Second, it is the bleak mid-Winter here in the land of Narnia, where the snow never ceases to fall and where, if animals could actually talk, they would make more sense than the two-legged beasts I am forever running into here in the frozen North. They have an official acronym now, of course: SAD, which stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. We used to call it “the blues,” but such a term is too evocative, too poetic, too redolent of real-life sadness.
Some therapists speak of depression, but that is, again, a technical term that suggests a medical condition that should be treated with drugs. These blues, though, are a kind of seasonal acedia that inspires sane people to read detective fiction (my recent list would include Magdalen McNabb, Gladys Mitchell, Robert Parker, J.S. Fletcher, “Sapper,” ands—sinking to the bottom of the barrel, S.S. (stands for double sissy) Van Dine. I don’t even have the mental concentration to watch a decent film—last night we cheerfully watched a particularly stupid episode of Midsomer Murders, in which we are asked to believe that entire English village is possessed of the Second Sight.
I should be taking to drink, but it is Lent, and I am sticking quite successfully to my resolve to drink nothing stronger than sherry, and not much of that. Then here’s to the cheap but excellent wine of Douro!
All that out of the way, as we might say in Latin, let me get down to one group of people who, if they were eliminated, never would be missed: professional conservatives who run organizations like CPAC. Dr. Trifkovic, with whom I lunched yesterday, must have concluded that I suffer from low blood pressure, since he sent me this piece from thedailybeast.com.
The political geniuses at CPAC—the people who perform period salaams in the presence of Ms. Palin and Newt Gingrich—have decided it is safe to invite a Log Cabin Republican—to speak at their meeting, so long as the speaker confines himself to bashing Putin and the Russians. The topic will not be just any old theme of the Russophobes, but how the evil Putin is persecuting GLBTs.
Let us, as the academic philosophy profs would say, unpack this decision.
The article-writer is under the impression that Log Cabin Republicans are “gay conservatives,” though in fact they are and always have been gay liberal Republicans. Most of them, more or less, believe that market solutions are on the whole better than government policies, many if not most seem to favor the imperialist policies of their party, and all of them, obviously, are opposed to the enforcement of traditional moral standards, but there is nothing distinctively conservative in the group’s outlook.
Then, in essence, CPAC is saying that Putin is a greater threat to the America they believe in than gay rights, and the [sic!] Ukraine, with its corrupt and abusive government, is more important than South Carolina, Alabama, and other American states in which there is still some persistence of Christian morality.
Let us be sure to be clear about this. Log Cabin Republicans are not simply Republicans who happen to be homosexual in private lives that they keep private. Frankly, I have absolutely no wish to pry into anyone’s bedroom, especially a politician’s. I have been shown the casting couches in senators’ offices, where nasty old men bed the interns whose parents have sent them to Washington to “learn the ropes.” Alas, the ropes and knots they learn are not from the Boy Scout Handbook but from Fifty Shades of Gray. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” may not have been a good policy for servicemen, but if we apply it to politicians, it is a bit like holding our noses when the car rolls over a dead skunk.
Log Cabin Republicans are open advocates of a “lifestyle choice,” which CPAC members claim to abhor. In any honest group of Christian American conservatives, a denunciation of Putin as a gay-basher would inspire an immediate backlash in his favor. In making this opening to the Gay Agenda, CPAC is telling conservatives what everyone should know by now. Like the entire GOP leadership, their only principle is: Show Me the Money!
Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.