The Republican National Convention ended Thursday with the nomination of Arizona Senator John McCain as the Party's choice for president and Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as vice president. And while gay group the Log Cabin Republicans claim two dozen gay delegates at the gathering, there was no mention of gay issues at the podium.
If McCain's speech in the St. Paul, Minnesota Xcel Energy Center was to be the red-meat of the convention, it left at-home viewers empty-bellied. To his credit the senator did mention his opponent, Senator Barack Obama, several times in civil terms. But he also got in his jabs: “Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies” and “Senator Obama wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucracies.”
It got the crowd rilled-up and they booed and hissed, then chanted “USA.”
The speech introduced a new narrative – McCain as outsider – going to Washington to fix America. “I've found the right partner to help me shake up Washington, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska. ... And let me offer an advance warning to the old, big spending, do nothing, me first, country second Washington crowd: Change is coming. ... And when we tell you we're going to change Washington, and stop leaving our country's problems for some unluckier generation to fix, you can count on it.”
That's a difficult pill to swallow. As The New York Times mentioned, the 2008 Republican Convention's makeup was “the least diverse, most conservative and richest” since they started tracking such data in 1996.
And if John McCain is not part of the old Republican boys club that has ruled over Washington for the past eight years, then we can't imagine who he's aiming at.
McCain highlighted his best qualifications for being president: captured in war and pushing for war. In that regard, he evoked images of the past, leaving the future for someone else to seize.
There was no mention of immigration reform, global warming or gay issues.
In fact, not one speaker at the four-day gathering mentioned issues important to gays and lesbians such as adoption, marriage, serving openly in the military, hate crimes legislation, or workplace discrimination.
A couple of days earlier, Tuesday, a group of gay Republicans, the Log Cabin Republicans, endorsed the McCain-Palin ticket for president and vice president, despite the Party's pledge to work towards a federal constitutional ban on gay marriage, McCain's opposition to gay couples adopting or fostering children and marriage or civil unions for gay couples, and Palin's own well-honed anti-gay rhetoric.
The group said they were endorsing McCain because of issues that affected all Americans, like fiscal conservatism and a strong defense, not gay issues. The gay Republicans, then, turned into just plain Republicans – backwards looking.