"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Flippity Floppity Floop 

That thundering sound you hear? That's just the sound of Chimpy's base abandoning him in droves:
President Bush said in an interview this past weekend that he disagreed with the Republican Party platform opposing civil unions of same-sex couples and that the matter should be left up to the states.

Mr. Bush has previously said that states should be permitted to allow same-sex unions, even though White House officials have said he would not have endorsed such unions as governor of Texas. But Mr. Bush has never before made a point of so publicly disagreeing with his party's official position on the issue.

In an interview on Sunday with Charles Gibson, an anchor of "Good Morning America" on ABC, Mr. Bush said, "I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so." ABC, which broadcast part of the interview on Monday, is to broadcast the part about civil unions on Tuesday.

According to an ABC transcript, Mr. Gibson then noted to Mr. Bush that the Republican Party platform opposed civil unions.

"Well, I don't," Mr. Bush replied.

I especially like the part about how Dear Leader supports the right of states to legally recognize gay unions, but would have opposed any efforts to recognize such unions while governor of Texas. That's what we call "a lack of principal," and it looks shabby on a man who would sell himself (cheap!) on the basis of steadfast resolve.

Here's the lesson to take away from this story - when tacking desperately to the center, one should try to avoid capsizing the boat.




Frame this as a victory, not a flip-flop. It is a mistake to use this in a tit-for-tat against Bush. Doing so diminishes the point that Bush is not opposed to extending civil rights to gays and lesbians on moral grounds. When usinig Bush's taking of our issue is used against him, it weakens our point. We need to strengthen our point - not weaken it.

It's a big victory for gays and lesbians that Bush says he's not opposed to state-by-state recognition of civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. Sure, no new rights were conferred by Bush's mere statement, but Bush's statement marks a tidal wave of progress for gay and lesbian Americans.

It is important that Bush mentioned rights in his statement. This frames the issue of civil marriage for gays and lesbians as about individual rights. Bush and others have been framing the issue as about protecting children and traditional values - which is not only more difficult to challenge but is also very dangerous for gays and lesbians. Turning gays and lesbians into threats against children and society is a low form of propaganda.Bush has taken a stand that puts the redefinition of marriage "rights" front center in this debate. We should use this as a reframing opportunity that will help extend civil marriage rights to gays and lesbians under the full and equal protection of the law.
One thing that liberals need to learn from neo-conservatives is how to better frame issues in terms favorable to the desired outcome. A good example is how anti-gay rights advocates have seized the movement for extending civil marriage rights as a way to bolster the religious political base and to oppose civil rights for gays and lesbians. They use message discipline along with discourse framing to get their message across - regardless of how their views are reported.
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