Sunday, June 6, 2004

Butch Assurance

According to popular psychology, those who go to great lengths to prove that they’re heterosexual have issues with their own sexual identity. So what’s up with all this straight talk from the Bush administration?

It’s now official. George W. Bush is not a theater queen.

The word came on May 22, after the president had taken his mountain biking fall on his ranch in Crawford. “You know this president,” said Trent Duffy, a White House spokesman, taking pains to explain that his boss had been on a 17-mile marathon, not some limp-kneed girly jaunt. “He likes to go all-out. Suffice it to say he wasn’t whistling show tunes.”

Let’s face it; there had been some nervousness about Mr. Bush’s butch bonafides. The president was on record as having loved “Cats.” His uncle, Jonathan Bush, a New York song-and-dance man in the 1950’s, had appeared as Will Parker in a revival of “Oklahoma!” (“A first-grade hayseed!” raved a critic at The New York Times.) Then there was that lingering question about why a president who had avoided Vietnam was dressing up in Tom Cruise pilot drag and, in Wesley Clark’s phrase, “prancing on the deck of an aircraft carrier” in our current war. The scene looked more like a slab of choreography from the World War II movie musical “Anchors Aweigh” than “The Longest Day.”

Had Mr. Duffy not intervened, some voters might have feared that the president would be tuning in America’s gayest awards show, the Tonys, on CBS tonight. In an election year whose signature culture war has been fought over same-sex marriage, Mr. Bush and his party have made a fetish of distancing themselves from all things gay.

On behalf of all the theatre queens in the world, may I say, “Whew!”