Matt Yglesias and Julie Saltman are having words over whether or not George W. Bush is a real live homophobe or a closet, opportunistic, tolerant. I'm going to throw in with the latter view not only on instinct, but on evidence from Lanny Davis, former counsel to Bill Clinton and classmate to George W. Bush (the LA Times article it originally appeared in is offline, this comes from Kevin Drum's excerpts):
One of my most vivid memories is this: A few of us were in the common room one night. It was 1965, I believe — my junior year, his sophomore. We were making our usual sarcastic commentaries on those who walked by us. A little nasty perhaps, but always with a touch of humor. On this occasion, however, someone we all believed to be gay walked by, although the word we used in those days was "queer." Someone, I'm sorry to say, snidely used that word as he walked by.
George heard it and, most uncharacteristically, snapped: "Shut up." Then he said, in words I can remember almost verbatim: "Why don't you try walking in his shoes for a while and see how it feels before you make a comment like that?"
Remember, this was the 1960s — pre-Stonewall, before gay rights became a cause many of us (especially male college students) had thought much about.
The view is echoed in the tapes of Bush released by Doug Wead. The two together point towards a remarkably coherent philosophy: It's not the homosexual but the homosexuality. Put another way, it's the ass-fucking, stupid.
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