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Michael Wolff Headshot

Gay Soldiers Could Save the Democrats

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The Republicans have given up on their don't-ask-don't-tell fig leaf position on gays in the military, but I don't know why the Democrats would let them sneak away from it so easily.

This is a gift: The GOP is firmly identified with a position that most of the country, leading military figures, and lots of people in uniform find absurd, obsolete, and offensive.

So how come the Democrats aren't branding the GOP in every reference and every venue as the party of DADT--the party, moreover, of malevolent, insensitive, reactionary gay bashing?

This is an easy one. The Republicans would like to walk away from this issue, but they can't disavow it. The country may have undergone a renaissance of sexual-identity sensitivity (not least of all because everybody's got a gay relative), but the GOP base is still virulently anti-gay. Put on the spot, even the most reconstructed Republican will continue to say these weird, dopey, incredibly awkward, swatting-at-flies sort of things about gays. And it isn't hard to find old-school Republicans who will reliably slide right back into the most belligerent, comical, from-another-planet, I-haven't-had-sex-in-forty-years-but-here's-what-I-think-about-homos, sounding stuff.

A couple of years ago, at a hardcore conservative conference, I heard the National Review's Rich Lowry argue that the GOP was going to go down the drain on this issue--he was specifically talking abut gay marriage--that the country was ever-more-steadfastly distancing itself from the hardcore Republican view; indeed, that the family values argument had pretty much come to include the gays.

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