More than four years after the Bush administration launched the worst foreign policy disaster in our history, our country sits in deep, deep shit. If you've read Fred Kaplan's assessment of Iraq published in this month's Atlantic, you know that the only difference between contingency plans is simply a matter of degrees of horrendous failure. Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike, are hungry for some leadership.
And so Bill Frist, the Senate leader of the party in power, went on Fox News Sunday this weekend to talk about the Republicans' agenda for the American people.
And what priorities does Leader Frist posit to turn our country around?
1) Flag burning.
2) Gay marriage.
Ah, yes. Gay marriage, the GOP's favorite comfy cozy sweater. Having soberly looked at the big picture, having seriously assessed all the problems now confronting the United States, the GOP has concluded that the number one priority is the need to amend the constitution to prevent gay people from getting married.
On the heels of the amendment's approval in a closed Judiciary committee hearing on June 5th, Bill Frist will then send it to the full Senate, which can take time away from debating from what the GOP considers lesser priorities -- the war, health care, oil prices, stagnant wages, the deficit.
All this, even though everyone in the world knows that the chances of this amendment ever being ratified are zero.
So why -- why the Republican obsession with gay marriage?
The conventional answer is that the Republicans are in trouble this election cycle, and they need to rally their base, as well as distract the rest of the country from their corrupt, incompetent tenure. But there's actually something more.
In the book "FUBAR: America's Right-Wing Nightmare," which I co-wrote with Stephen Sherrill, the chapter "I Hate Myself: Life As A Gay Republican," examines the eerie pattern of the most vehement anti-gay Republicans turning out to be, well, gay.
Could it be that the reason they doth want to amend too much is really more about them than the constitution?
In our book, we quote a 1996 study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology by researchers at the University of Georgia. The subjects of the experiment -- all males describing themselves as exclusively straight -- were divided into homophobic and non-homophobic groups. They were then show videos of straight pornography and gay pornography, while their levels of arousal were measured by a penile plethysmograph.
The results? During the gay videos, nearly 80% of male homophobes produced what we like to call a "Fristy". What's more intriguing is in their own assessments of their arousal, the homophobes claimed to have none, even though the instruments showed otherwise.
And in the ten years since this study, the GOP has only grown more and more "obsessed" with gay people. In fact, in updating this study, according to our calculations the percentage of current anti-gay GOP office holders who are actually gay is: 100%. (I should note that our results have a 3% margin of error, which means the number might really by either 97% or 103%. We're not even sure what that last number means -- that's a job for gay string theorists).
Luckily for all these closeted self-haters, there's plenty of anti-gay-but-actually-gay special interest groups our there to support them.
Listen here, for example, to my call to Ed Vitagliano of the American Family Association, who believes that the movie "SHARK TALE" is sending subliminal messages to your children to turn them gay. Seriously. Listen closely, does it not sound to you like Ed gets a bit aroused when we discuss Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer's relationship with the Elf?
None if this self-hatred is necessary, or course. Guys like David Dreier needn't put up with fellow Republican lawmakers refusing to shake his hand just because he's so "dapper." With a little tough self-examination, and perhaps a few divorce papers, these gay Republicans could come out to a long, happy life of love and marriage embraced by society. Unless that amendment happens to pass, of course.
So the next time you see a Ken Mehlman type leading the charge against the right of gay Americans to enjoy the same rights as everyone else, just remember: they're just trying to hide a "Fristy".
Sam Seder is host, with Janeane Garofalo, of Air America's "The Majority Report," and author of the new book FUBAR: America's Right-Wing Nightmare