Feet-of-clay dep’t

Joseph Wilson gay-baits Mehlman and Dreier, says he’d like to punch Khalilzad in the face. Isn’t there some way we can send this jerk back to Team Bush, where he belongs?

I’ve mostly laid off Joseph Wilson, not wanting to let the issue of his (execrable) character interfere with the question of who outed his wife as a covert CIA officer. But this from Daily Kos

You know when they first started trying to come up with a way to discredit me, which we now know started in March of 2003, they went through the old standbys. “He’s had 3 wives, he’s a womanizer, he’s done drugs.” But then they realized they couldn’t use those because I’ve never actually denied them. I mean I’m the first to admit that, unlike Ken Mehlman and David Dreier, I really like women.

is simply intolerable. (I’d hope the report was libelous if it weren’t written by an obviously infatuated Kossack with the handle “tlh lib.”) The whole entry makes it sound likely that Wilson is now completely drunk on the sound of his own voice. I was glad to see one commenter call Wilson on his completely gratuitous gay-baiting. No one bothered to complain about Wilson’s expressed desire to punch Zalmay Khalilzad in the face.

Isn’t there some way we can send this jerk back to Team Bush, where he obviously belongs? It’s too bad. Given Wilson’s history, he could have been an effective anti-Bush spokesman, if he weren’t such a toad.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

38 thoughts on “Feet-of-clay dep’t”

  1. Jane Galt wrote, Couldn't he just be accusing them of being sexist bastards?
    No; it's clearly a reference to the by-now-conventional gossip that these two might be gay. (Seinfeld-ian caveat: "Not that there's anything wrong with that.")

  2. Jane G. I agree. I don't know anything of their lives & that's the way I saw Wilson's remark. BUT, regardless how naive we are, it's DEFINITELY pandering to objectives of character-assassinating-extremist-repubs for anyone to jump all over Joe Wilson for getting out of line one, two, or even more times. Is Wilson never "allowed" to reach frustration point & show he's human? If he's bigoted, so what? This is a tremendous misdirection away from the only point that counts. To anyone who's so easily distracted, I can't see how you can ever reach honorable decisions.

  3. In response to the earlier comment, I think it's pretty well-accepted inside the Beltway that they are in fact gay. Which pretty much puts them in the closeted self-hating gay Republican camp.
    But it's bad form to mention that, isn't it? The Arnold can get laughs aplenty calling Democrats "girly-boys," but we're simply beyond the pale if we note the hypocrisy of being silently gay while participating in the persecution of those who share your secret, if not your shame.
    Tell me, Mark, do you fight according to the Marquess of Queensbury rules when you're facing a mugger with a sock full of nickles, too?

  4. Prof. K:
    Could you expound a little more on why Amb. Wilson's character is execrable? My read of the Kos link shows a man who is profoundly angry toward a party and a government that quite likely got his wife's contacts tortured and killed, purely for partisan gain.
    Considering that he held a press conference while he was ambassador to Iraq wearing a noose for a necktie, I think that he has a great deal of character.

  5. Yes, Mark, I don't think this is particularly beyond the pale at all. Both are known to be closeted gay men adn the sin there–to which Wilson is alluding–is hypocrisy since both are the very public faces of an administration that is determindly anti-gay. I haven't paid too much attention to Wilson because I don't care for the politics of hero worship which is the other side of the politics of personal destruction which the right wing have perfected–but I very much admire Wilson's willingness to take his flaws (such as they are) and stand by them and not let the eternal smear campaign which is the bush machine prevent him from speaking out. If Wilson weren't such a gutsy guy, such a difficult character, he would have taken his medicine and shut up by now like the politer foes of the bush government.
    Its not gay baiting, its truth telling.

  6. Let's spell this one out for you, Bonoboboy. Mehlman and Dreier would "deny liking women" whether they were in the closet or not. In fact being deeply in the closet they might hypocritically profess how much they love women.
    No, that's not what Wilson is saying. Wilson is saying the problem is that, unlike Wilson, they "don't like women." Got it? The problem is that they ARE gay.
    Yes it's gay bashing and yes it's really
    @!#$ing irritating to people like me who are gay.

  7. I think the issue is that he's making a specific, unverified claim about Drier and Mehlman. Arnold's comments about Democrats being 'girly-men' was obviously a rhetorical and theoretically humorous (to conservitives, if anyone) generalization. If Arnold had, instead, said something about Harry Reid and Howard Dean "not liking women", that would have gotten an entirely different response from most liberals, because it would have been a very personal smear against two very specific people – with no evidence to base such a comment on.
    Wilson's comment is that kind of a specific smear, and while it may be widly believed that these two are gay, to the best of my knowledge there's no evidence to support that belief (at least none in the public domain).

  8. Why does he count as being on our team in any way other than as a Churchillian Stalin/devil himself ally?
    "Even people like that can see through Bush" is a valid and effective talking point.

  9. Outing people widely suspected of being gay is reprehensible, even if they're the kind of people likely to pull the same tactic on you or your allies. If someone is an odious public figure who is doing and saying things — in public — that merit scorn, they've given you plenty of material for criticism without indulging in sniggering about their sexuality.

  10. Are there other examples of Joe Wilson making such strongly worded (some might say off color) remarks? Certainly I've seen comments he's made that were forceful, but…

  11. As nice as it would be to have all one's allies be ladies and gentlemen of humility and judgment, it ain't going to happen. Both sides of the aisle would have a lot of vacancies if we purged DC of all the cads, egotists, and users of adolescent ad hominem attacks.
    Of course, a man can dream…

  12. _Are Ken Mehlman and David Dreier gay? Couldn't he just be accusing them of being sexist bastards?_
    Jane, that's not to the point. Wilson's point is that he doesn't have anything in his personal life that he wants to hide, unlike some people he could name. You make your point by comparing like with like.
    Normally I might be persuaded to agree with Mark, but since Wilson's behavior can be seen as retaliation for past offenses, it does color somewhat my view of the matter. Regardless of Wilson's protestations, nobody wants people digging through their personal life. So Joseph Wilson did a Bad Thing. For Mr. Mehlman and Mr. Dreier, I hold between my thumb and my index finger the Smallest Violin In The World, and I play it just for them.
    And the way things are going in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad will be pretty lucky to escape Iraq with just a punch in the face. Would that those thousands of servicemen would have been so lucky.

  13. In response to the earlier comment, I think it’s pretty well-accepted inside the Beltway that they are in fact gay. Which pretty much puts them in the closeted self-hating gay Republican camp.
    But it’s bad form to mention that, isn’t it? The Arnold can get laughs aplenty calling Democrats “girly-boys,” but we’re simply beyond the pale if we note the hypocrisy of being silently gay while participating in the persecution of those who share your secret, if not your shame.
    Tell me, Mark, do you fight according to the Marquess of Queensbury rules when you’re facing a mugger with a sock full of nickles, too?

  14. Well, I cannot say that replacing the cads and bounders with people of rectitude has been a successful policy in the past.
    I think I'll take my chances with the imperfect. Who knows, I may be among them.

  15. WIlson wasn't contrasting his honesty with Mehlman's and Dreier's dishonesty. He was contrasting his liking of women with their, well, ahem, something else….
    This is rank homophobia.
    And it's not mitigated by the slimy role that a closeted gay man plays in the Bush administration. That's quite beside the point here.
    Joe Wilson has enough of a legitimate complaint against the White House not to need to do this.
    Give him the hook.

  16. "closeted self-hating gay Republican camp"
    There was a time a liberal would never had said anything like this. Now, it is pretty much common talk.
    Where does a true progressive go when those he is used to admiring and associating with are as hateful as those he opposes?

  17. I read Wilson to be saying he owns up to his actions, whereas Mehlman and Dreier deny their actions AND hypocritically attack people who do as they do.
    Which is to say, if you attack a closeted homosexual for hypocritical stands on homosexuality, are you attacking homosexuality or their hypocrisy?

  18. "…written by an obviously infatuated Kossack…"
    what was being said about name-calling, now?

  19. Ken Mehlman presided over the 2004 campaign, which made demoninzing gays one of its main subtexts. The GOP base is easily mobilized by anti-gay rhetoric and the RNC specializes in below-the-belt attacks on gays. Dave Dreier votes overwhelmingly on the side of the religious right and against gays. It's as if the Republican gay faction is taunting the media: we can do this because you guys are such wimps. You assume that our private lives are off limits, which makes our obvious hypocrisy off limits too. This is how Republicans have neutered the media.

  20. The Plank is a bit late to the party weith this:
    It's always good to see another liberal come to the realization that Joe Wilson is a buffoon. From Mark Kleiman (via Andrew Sullivan)…
    This may not represent credential-burnishing, but Mark was one of the first lefties to leap off the Wilson band-wagon.
    Bah! I won't be able to find a link to document that, but it was fall of 2003, IIRC.

  21. As a non self-hating Republican,who is one of "nature's bachelors" here's my 3 cents.)It's adjusted for inflation)
    1)I don't care what Drier's or Mehlman's preferences are.That's their business.
    2)50 years ago Alger Hiss trotted "out" info of this nature abouy Whittaker Chambers
    3)I think Arnold's referring to what were called "pussies"when I was a youth.It means"soft and cowardly"
    4)I don't think evef Team Bush wants to claim Mr. Wilson.He reminds me of a college teacher hitting on sophomore girls

  22. You know, back before he was a Bushie, Ken asked me (a female) out.
    So everytime I see these reports that he is gay, I take it personally. I don't have the best 'dar, but he CERTAINLY didn't strike me as gay. But if he was, why was he asking me out?
    Existential crisis, etc.

  23. Intolerable?
    Ironic that this is what you find to be intolerable Mark.
    But you'll get lots of hits from Reynolds over it so there's always an upside.
    Hey indeedy.

  24. You guys are amazing. So gay baiting is OK, as long as the gays you are baiting are Republicans? I guess just like it's ok for a Democrat to fondle chicks, butu not a Republican.

  25. I'm not getting this. I thought that liberal Democrats were immune from charges of gay-baiting by not being Republican.
    It's rather like the Democrats' belief that they can immunize themselves against charges of being soft on terrorism by pimping out 9/11 widows or against charges of being anti-military by nominating or promoting veterans for high office.
    Except in Ohio.

  26. From all that is known on the public record, Valerie Plame was not a covert CIA officer when her position was revealed. It would be nice to simply stick to the truth when trying to understand a situation; lying to yourself is neither honest or empowering.

  27. Oh, puh-lease.
    Explain how snarking about two guys known to be closet cases is "gay baiting."
    If he'd said something like that about non-closeted gays, then you'd have a case.
    But he didn't.
    He was responding to slurs on his own reputation, and making the point that at least he's honest about his sexual history.
    Turn your take-offense meters down, please.

  28. The mockery of gay conservatives/republicans is hardly new, of course it boomerangs as self mockery on the left as exposing their lies on equal and gay rights, in showing their contempt, and informing us of a cheap political ploy. Got thru that without using the word" hypocrisy" which is both a constant and a given. You might say it's pap for the saps. Now if you're David Brock you can have it both ways, reviled when you're on the right, respected and even referred to when on the left.

  29. "I was glad to see one commenter call Wilson on his completely gratuitous gay-baiting."
    Are you talking about my comment? If so, you misunderstood. I think it's perfectly appropriate for Wilson to call out Dreier's anti-gay hypocrisy. I was only wondering if he had been personally attacked by Dreier.

  30. Outing closet case Republicans (or Democrats for that matter, although I can't think of any off the top of my head) is perfectly acceptable if they are working personally like Ed Schrock or Drier to undermine the cause of equal civil rights (housing, work, marriage, family) for gays and lesbians. It is also acceptable if they are working for such a politician, campaign or party (as in Mehlman's case.) These modern day Roy Cohn's should be revealed for what they are, hypocrites who are privately enjoying the benefits that have been secured by activists who have struggled publicly to win them, while at the same time trying to undermine those same activists and their works publicly. This is not gay bashing. And I am an out gay man, who came out in the late 80's as a teen. I been public in order to foster understanding of who gays and lesbians are and what they want their government to acknowledge – their equality under the Constitution with heterosexuals. Wilson's remarks are a breath of fresh air. If only our media were more upfront about these hateful people. The private life of Clinton was fair game, but the double lives of Mehlman and Drier? Heavens!

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