Another "F" for "W."

Editorial, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

November 24, 1999 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blogger Tumblr

For months, Texas Gov. George W. Bush has been pushing the image of himself as an inclusive Republican who reaches out to minorities. But last Sunday, the nation got a peek at the presidential candidate's real feelings. That's when the candidate of "compassionate conservatism" told the nation during a television interview that he would not meet with the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's largest gay GOP organization.

Even more baffling than his refusal to meet with the group was his reasoning. "I don't believe in group thought, pitting one group against the other," Mr. Bush said. "And all that does is create a huge political nightmare for people."

Group thought? Pitting which group against which? A nightmare for which people?

Meeting with Log Cabin Republicans didn't faze Arizona Sen. John McCain, another Republican presidential candidate. And multimillionaire Republican Steve Forbes, also seeking his party's presidential nomination, isn't predicting nightmares from his pending meeting with the group.

The Log Cabin Republicans, who have worked successfully to elect scores of Republican candidates, say they are "surprised and disappointed" by Bush's statements. They don't understand how the man who has urged his party to reach out to minority groups can now say that he won't meet with them because they are a group. Nor do they understand why meeting with them would be "divisive," when Republican governors like George Ryan of Illinois, Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts, George E. Pataki of New York, as well as various members of Congress and big city mayors, have openly sought gays' support and embraced many of their issues.

For gays and lesbians, Mr. Bush's statements raise two questions: If he is elected president, how will gays fare in his administration? Second, is Mr. Bush a man of principles or a candidate whose convictions are determined by political polls? In April, for instance, Mr. Bush told The New York Times that he would have no problem appointing openly gay people to his administration, even as ambassadors. In September, however, Mr. Bush pledged to a group of religious conservatives that he would not "knowingly" hire a gay person, but he wouldn't fire someone who was later "discovered" to be gay. Now, in November, Mr. Bush won't even meet with gay Republicans.

Mr. Bush has failed to measure up to a test of his own stated convictions – compassion and inclusion – just as he failed the foreign policy questions posed to him by a reporter two weeks ago. A meeting with the Log Cabin Republicans would have sent a message that when Mr. Bush talks about being against discrimination, he believes it. Now we don't know what to believe, or what he does.