Gary Bauer – A Virtue Vulture – Circles as the President's Woes Mount

Interview by Mark Z. Barabak, Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times
September 13, 1998 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

Q: Are you comfortable with the rhetoric of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott comparing gays to drunks and kleptomaniacs, or Pat Robertson when he threatens God's vengeance on Florida for "gay days" at Disneyland?

A: You probably should talk to Pat about what he was trying to accomplish with that quote... It's a bad idea for anyone to pretend to be in the mind of God and to start pointing at who's going to be punished and who isn't.

Trent Lott was asked essentially a religious question... If you're a Christian that believes the Bible is the word of God, then clearly homosexuality is a sin, along with adultery, thievery and a lot of other things...

What he should have done after making that statement... is move it to the political agenda. And I think there's a wide consensus that, quite frankly, is on my side and Trent Lott's side, that there is a political agenda that the gay rights movement promotes: same-sex marriages, browbeating the Boy Scouts into having gay counselors, using the schools to teach that this is an acceptable lifestyle and all those things.

Q: What about the role of religion in this pluralistic, multicultural society, many of whose members don't believe in Christ as their savior?

A: It would be totally inappropriate for a president to use the White House in any way to force people to accept Jesus Christ... But all through our history... presidents have appealed to moral principles... FDR, in the darkest days of World War II, always went back to those moral principles that America would win the war because God was on our side, literally...

One of the ironies right now is that in the civil-rights movement, Martin Luther King could not speak in an Alabama school because of the color of his skin. If you look at the latest decisions in the federal courts, Martin Luther King couldn't speak in an Alabama school today because, if you look at his speeches, they were permeated with religious references and they reflected his deeply held Baptist faith... We've gotten into a real imbalance here, where we're trying to make men and women of faith second-class citizens.

Q: What's wrong with the "big-tent" theory--that the GOP is big enough for you and the gay Log Cabin Republicans?

A: The unspoken message is we don't stand for anything other than we want as many people to come in as we can because we want to win elections more than anything else... The door ought to be open... But when you come in the door, you ought to come in in the knowledge that the room you're entering is full of people who believe in certain things: lower taxes, smaller government, family values and, in my case, I would add the respect for the sanctity of human life.

Q: But if you can make common cause with House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt on trade, why not Log Cabin Republican executive director Rich Tafel on taxes?

A: I'm perfectly willing to work with anybody that agrees with me on a specific issue. Where the trouble comes in, I think, is when that individual tries to change the other things in the party that we disagree on.

Q: What would you do if one of your children said to you, "Dad, I'm gay"?

A: First of all, it would break my heart. Second of all, I would pray with my son or daughter and, as early as possible, I would try to get them involved with some of the very excellent organizations that are out there of ex-gay ministries... Since I believe, at the end of the day, this is a matter of choice, I believe that I can work with my children to get them out of that particular error.

Q: You said that the American people didn't hear the social-conservative view in the last two presidential elections. Yet the '92 GOP convention was widely seen as a field day for social conservatives. And many people, including a lot of Republicans, were put off.

A: The marker for the '92 convention that most people point to was Pat Buchanan's speech. The fact is that George Bush enjoyed the biggest jump in the polls the morning after Pat Buchanan's speech... I think why the '92 convention became a mistake in political terms is that after the convention was over, George Bush and the Republican establishment did not defend what happened at the convention, did not talk in any meaningful way about those issues... Bob Dole and Jack Kemp missed opportunity after opportunity to make the case on a whole set of values that I think could have gotten them the White House... To some voters, Bill Clinton looked more traditional. He was talking about school uniforms, curfews, while our guys were talking mostly about balance-sheet issues with green eye shades on.

Q: Do you think litmus testing--on the right, on the left--is a good thing?

A: Litmus test is another word for principle. I think the American people, at the end of the day, respect parties and politicians that stand for principle.

Q: So you would rather be right, as you see it, than victorious?

A: The best way to be victorious is to be right and to have the courage to believe you're right... I don't think losing is the worst thing in the world--particularly if it's for a good cause.

All of us citizens are not only allowed but, I think, obligated, to inform our fellow citizens about liberty and virtue.