Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) became the latest Republican to announce that he’s not running for re-election in 2010. He joins Sam Brownback of Kansas, Kit Bond of Missouri, Mel Martinez of Florida, and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, who is planning to run for governor of the Lone Star State.
Chris Cillizza notes that the GOP is looking pretty bedraggled.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), the No. 3 Republican leader, said the decisions by Voinovich, Martinez and Bond hurt the party both politically and legislatively. “We’re losing three of our best players,” said Alexander, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference.
“It makes an already tough situation even worse,” added Fred Davis, a Republican consultant who spearheaded advertising strategy for Sen. John McCain of Arizona in the 2008 presidential race.
Several factors have contributed to the large number of looming retirements. Age and length of service have played a role (Voinovich will be 74 on Election Day 2010, and Bond has spent the past three decades in public office), but the common element in each decision appears to be the difficult path facing Republicans if they hope to regain the majority.
And it’s probably not helping when you have a top contender to be the next chair of the RNC proclaiming that being gay is a “compulsion” that can be “restrained.”
“You can choose to restrain that compulsion,” [Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken] Blackwell told radio host Michelangelo Signorile, a gay and lesbian advocate, this summer during the Republican National Convention. “And so I think in fact you don’t have to give in to the compulsion to be homosexual.”
“I’ve never had to make the choice because I’ve never had the urge to be other than a heterosexual,” Blackwell added, “but if in fact I had the urge to be something else I could have in fact suppressed that urge.”
Presumably Mr. Blackwell is referring to sexual behavior, because I don’t think there’s any reputable scientist or psychologist who would define sexual orientation as a “compulsion,” any more than you would define being left-handed or blue-eyed by that term, at least not within the last forty years.
Herein lies the root of the problem with the Republican party, at least on one level: they are obsessed with sex, particularly gay sex. They can’t look at a gay man or a lesbian and not immediately jump into what goes on in the bedroom, at least in their fevered imagination. They base all of their judgments on the gay community’s fitness to be marriage partners, parents, teachers, or just plain citizens entitled to the equal rights under the law on what they think happens in the privacy of someone else’s home with another consenting adult. No other group is held to such an intensely private and personal standard to earn their place at the table, and the right wing’s obsession with it borders on psychosis. You might even call it a compulsion. (Trust me, if we in the gay community had as much sex as the homophobes think we do, there wouldn’t be enough time left in the day for the rest of the Radical Homosexual Agenda, like hairdressing, flower-arranging, and doing brunch.)
As long as the GOP insists on making other peoples’ private lives, whether it’s their sex life or reproductive choice, the most important issue the nation faces and ignores such mundane problems like education, health care, and the economy, it’s no wonder they are being seen as increasingly irrelevant — not to mention creepy — by the majority of the voters.