From today’s Wall Street Journal (subscription required):
California's Rep. David Dreier is a gentleman in the not-so-gentle world of the House Republican leadership.
Witty, articulate, friend to the Annenbergs and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. Dreier is a Ronald Reagan-style optimist who favors inclusive politics. But after 25 years in Congress, he finds himself isolated by the increasingly raw social warfare within his own party.
Amid the turmoil in the House, the 53-year-old lawmaker is an obvious candidate to help fill the leadership void. But Mr. Dreier, whose upscale Los Angeles-area constituents are less conservative on social issues than on fiscal matters, shuns any elected party post, preferring to protect his privacy as a loyal lieutenant to Speaker Dennis Hastert…
Mr. Hastert waived party rules to extend Mr. Dreier's tenure as House Rules Committee chairman and considered elevating him to fill in when Mr. DeLay first stepped aside in October after being indicted in Texas on campaign-finance charges. The idea was quickly scotched when Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) went to Mr. Hastert to claim the title for himself. But talk of Dreier leadership set off an uproar among social conservatives, who mounted calls to Mr. Hastert's office and attacked Mr. Dreier, citing his votes in support of stem-cell research and against a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. [emphasis added]
Um, yeah. Preferring to protect his privacy. And sure, “social conservatives” objected to Dreier’s votes on stem cell research and against the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Let’s be honest here. The reason why Dreier isn’t acceptable to many Republicans is because he’s gay.
It’s hardly a secret that David Dreier is gay. Doug Ireland wrote about Dreier for the L.A. Weekly in 2004. And Pam covered things as Dreier’s candidacy to replace DeLay was floated and quickly pulled back when DeLay stepped down last September. But throughout all this, there’s been barely a peep in the mainstream media about Dreier apparently being rejected for the top ranks of GOP congressional leadership because of his (still not publicly acknowledged) sexual orientation.
But this morning, I finally heard an honest mention of Republicans rejecting Dreier for leadership because he’s gay on a non-alternative media source. During her weekly News Roundup with a panel of journalists, NPR’s Diane Rehm asked her panel—including the WSJ’s Doug Harwood—about the Dreier article. Specifically, she asked about why he faced a “leadership test.” She almost certainly knew what she was doing, and The Nation’s David Corn took her bait, and made it clear that Dreier is gay and that’s why many of his colleagues oppose the idea of him being in leadership.
It was really quite simple, and didn’t include any parsing, or hemming and hawing. Corn just said there’s plenty of information out there for people to read for themselves, even mentioning the LA Weekly article (linked above). For the WSJ—which separate from their editorial page is an outstanding newspaper—to avoid candid discussion about Dreier’s sexual orientation and the opposition it generates among his Republican colleagues is irresponsible.
Homophobia is a fact of Republican politics. To paper it over with euphemisms about protecting one’s privacy helps the GOP continue pursuing a radical agenda while concealing their true radicalism and intolerance to the broader public outside their reactionary base. Kudos to Diane Rehm and David Corn for just coming out and saying what David Dreier and his fellow Republicans won’t say: he’s gay, and for that reason his fellow Republicans don’t trust him.