Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Out and About

L.A. Observed points to The Raw Story, a liberal news site, with a story on what it claims is the upcoming outing of California Congressman David Dreier. He's a very powerful member of congress and a fellow CMC alum.

The site links to an LA Weekly article. Unsurprisingly to me - and any other active Claremont politico, the Raw Story site contacted perennial Dreier opponent, Dr. Janice Nelson - an embittered, ill qualified woman with a penchant for attacking 20 year old college interns who interact with high profile alums.

The good doctor says she "knew" Dreier to be living with his Chief of Staff, Brad Smith. He's very highly paid, the story notes, drawing a connection to the recent McGreevey controversy in New Jersey.

The Weekly piece's author argues that outing someone is only appropriate when they use their power to hateful, anti-gay ends. He then cites a string of votes against employment discrimination legislation, for DOMA, and against hate crimes legislation.

Some of his votes, I can understand, given our similar education background. If you're a CMCer, you know what I mean. It has zero to do with hating gays, and everything to do with a very particular sense of the proper role of government and legislation.

Aside from most Bush policies (foreign, especially), I am still willing to give at least some Reeps the benefit of the doubt when it comes to many votes - knowing full well the gamesmanship that goes on in Congress.

I also know David Dreier, however. When you're an intern, for the minority part at that, and the Chairman of the House Rules Committee goes out of his way to say hello in the hallway, that counts for something. I also know Brad Smith, having sat next to him at a lunch the Congressman invited me to attend (policy, not fundraiser, thank you). Brad is also a nice guy. Would I do everything in power to kill 99.9% of any legislation Dreier introduced? You betcha. Do I think he's an evil homophobe? No. Do I think it sucks the way Republicans devour their own? Yes, and Reeps should demand more from their leadership.

That lunch, by the way, included a photo that went onto the Congressman's website in the "constituent photo album" area.

The morning after it posted, I received a handwritten fax from one Dr. Janice Nelson saying - granted with a bit of humor, but if you know her, plenty of honesty - that she was surprised to see me with Dreier, that she hoped I hadn't changed sides, that she hoped I'd taken a decontamination shower, that she couldn't believe I'd talk to him, etc. I should find it and scan it in.

She took the time, not only to watch his website that carefully, but to write a bitter missive to a 20 YEAR OLD INTERN. It would be easy for her today to explain it away as a harmless joke fax from a candidate to the leader of the local Democratic club, but it was something my whole office saw and didn't understand. That district itself won't flip anytime soon - but I sure think we coulda found someone a little better to run.

I would vote differently than Dreier on most legislation - and I'm absolutely in support of full rights for homosexuals - marriage, whole 9 (doubters, check the site archives). But I won't applaud his being torn down. He's a Stag and a friend to the college. He's well educated and though mistaken on positions, I don't think he's a "heartless AIDS-phobe" or homophobe.

I'm not saying I'd vote for him (I don't vote for Reeps, as a general rule, and as you'll soon find out, I'm as Blue as they come right now) - but I'd still exchange hellos with him in a hallway. And leave his staffers alone.

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