Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Romney's Chuck Colson

Romney's Chuck Colson
by Kevin John Sowyrda

One of these days, right about the same time I figure out how to download music to that I-POD thing I got for Christmas, I'm going to discover what ever went wrong with the formerly moderate Massachusetts Republican Party, its leadership, and certain key disciples who, once upon a time, were perfectly comfortable with Gay people and Gay Community issues; only to be transformed into hostile opponents who manipulate even minutia issues to slap Gay people and Gay youth down, and down hard.

Case in point, one Beth Myers, the new bad girl in Boston. Myers is to the Mitt Romney Administration what Chuck Colson was to the Nixon White House in the Seventies. You know her if you're a political junkie and you've never heard her name in your entire life if you're a normal, Joe-voter type. She's become the - I won't say ruthless - but the hatchet lady governor's office chief of staff whose put her own personal beliefs in a lock box in favor of pushing a right wing agenda which even the party's present nominee for governor is distancing herself from a mile a minute.

Beth and I have broken bread together on many occasions and have had more than our fair share of great conversations; though on Tuesday she was apparently too busy to respond to my two phone messages which fairly warned her that I planned to eviscerate her in this week's column as you will see and which she so richly deserves.

Disloyal? Me, never. I just can't stomach it when I see people who once professed the civil libertarian creed of the G.O.P. - something I have always admired about the party and still do in some of its members (anybody remember Bill Weld and Lowell Weicker?) - degenerate their own intellects and forsake their own hearts and take up this cheap and shallow cause of social agendizing, where it's their way or the high way when it comes to life style.

The background is already known to you because Bay Windows broke the story that His Excellency was apoplectic that the state sanctioned gay youth council, invented by former Governor Bill Weld, was marching in a parade and promoted same with state stationary bearing Romney's name. The typically over-rehearsed and never-to-be-found-with-a-hair-out-of-place presidential aspirant had an uncharacteristically pre-schooler temper tantrum and tried to abolish what is officially known as the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth - though it's never really been Romney's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. He's always viewed it as sort of a mother in law type thing; it comes with the package, if you get my drift.

You would have thought someone had whispered in Romney's ear that jack-booted teens with brown shirts were going to be doing the goose step in His Excellency's name down Park Street to Tremont. It was Myers, from what my governor's office deep throat (I really have one) tells me, who made sure than an executive order was typed pronto. The imperial edict abolished the group so heralded by the progressive community and educators when Bill Weld had the intestinal fortitude to create it years ago.

But as proof that there's still a check on the absurd antics of this governor's office, Myers told the commission chairwoman, Kathleen Henry, that His Excellency had reversed himself. This all happened in the same business day and the positive political flip flog came only after Romney was reportedly flooded with protests from Beacon Hill lawmakers who, unlike the governor, are to the left of Attila the Hun, not the right. There was some debate about whether or not an executive order killing the council was ever, in reality, drafted; but few people on Beacon Hill take seriously any denials, or for that matter any statements at all, which emit from the office of gubernatorial communications lieutenant Eric Fehrnstrom. He was deputy state treasurer when over 9 million dollars was embezzled from that office - the biggest theft of public dollars in Massachusetts history. Of course, Eric didn't know anything about it. I mean if he did, he'd be in jail right now instead of telling the press that the governor didn't want his name associated with "that parade".

First, some facts you already know thanks to the cracker jack reporters at Bay Windows who broke an important story the very pompous governor's office wishes had stayed, excuse me, in the closet. "That parade," was always privately paid for. Second, what is the big deal. In the era of television's Will and Grace and Dick Cheney's Gay daughter roaming the talk show circuit, what in the name of Heaven is the preoccupation of this executive office with anything and everything with the letter 'G' tagged to it. I mean, do they actually know it's the year 2006 and not 1956. And is there nothing more important on their plate, such as stopping the reported exudus of Bay State residents who can no longer afford to live here.

Yes, some - not all - of the evangelicals in Indiana get a kick out of kicking Gay people, but the nation is changing and Mitt Romney isn't. His stagnant social agenda is so archaic that his presidential bid will be perfectly successful; if his goal is to be ambassador to Bermuda, a historic consolation prize to those who tried too hard in the primarys and spent way too much for way too few votes. As that character in 'Broke Back Mountain,' might say, Romney "just can't quit" that Gay bashing - and it could be his undoing. I mean think about this for a moment, other than fighting against Gay Marriage and now this group that tries to help kids, what is this governor's moniker? What in the world does he have to say that matters to real people??

The governor is being so abysmally advised that two very practical responses should be prompted by his almost execution of a council whose only crime is that it tries to help kids who are often bullied. First, Mitt Romney knows prejudice and should therefore be expected to sympathize with those who know exactly the same and so frequently face it, such as Gay youth. The governor is Mormon and members of his faith have been sadly persecuted in our society for years. Many find the faith to be much more queer than Queer people. One would think Romney would be the empathetic governor to this issue instead of the hostile politician he is. I've always thought JFK was able to fight better for civil rights because as a Roman Catholic he understood the evil of social labels and ignorance. But Mr. Romney; I've met you, I've covered you, and you're no JFK.

Second, who advises this guy whose favorability ratings are on par with those of the president's? My deep throat says, and a flock of politicians on Beacon Hill will tell you also, that Beth Myers has become the very right of center, key advisor. She's a sort of ultra conservative version of Mary Lee King; who was the last high ranking woman to counsel a Massachusetts governor, and in my opinion do so very wisely. In King's case she was the reasonable and mature voice prompting Bill Weld to act on his beliefs and lead, as opposed to following polling data. In Myers case, she's the harsh-toned conservative who imagines that the presidency is decided by Indiana and Georgia. She was almost successful in prompting the governor to do something that would have made great headlines with conservative bloggers but hurt kids here in Massachusetts. That's definitely Chuck Colson's style - or atleast his style before he discovered Jesus.

Soon, none of this matters. Romney's relevance is almost depleted, a new poll shows his traction is nil at the national stage, and, I predict that should the next governor be Republican Kerry Healey you will ironically see a much more diplomatic relationship between the corner office and the Gay Community. That would be refreshing after nearly four years of gubernatorial hostility encouraged by political advisors who decided to forget the most important lesson Bill Weld ever taught his party - "keep the government out of people's pocket-books and out of their bedrooms".

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