Friday, February 29, 2008

Why all the conservative gay-hate for Hillary?

Okay, this is off-topic, but it is something I've been wondering about, and it does at least partly concern the larger culture: why do Internet queens Andrew Sullivan (right) and Matt Drudge (below) hate, hate, hate Hillary Clinton quite so much, much, much? I leaned toward Hillary over Obama (although I'm happy to vote for him) because - can we be honest? - Obama is so obviously a blank slate, and in his short career he's never made much of an impression, except on the political pulpit. In fact, somehow I sense from him a certain disinterest in even getting things done in principle. Those imagining this paleoliberal messiah will be able to usher in a post-polarized paradise I think may be in for a very unpleasant surprise. But hey, I could be wrong - and after all, just because the Clintons ran the government supremely well once before, why the hell should we invite them back? I mean, that would mean facing the threat of oral sex in the Oval Office!

But oh yeah, what I wanted to write about - the general hatred of the press for Hillary, and the intriguing fact that this is best channeled by two conservative homosexuals on the Net. I know, I know, Drudge is supposed to be closeted, but please - I don't see why we have to play along with his private psychological drama here. So my question is: are these two representative of gay conservatism in general, and is gay conservatism actually representative of something in the culture at large?

I guess the nub of this admittedly amorphous query is American sexism, and how the Hillary-Obama match-up seems to hint what many have suspected but never articulated: that this country is more deeply sexist than it is racist. Rush Limbaugh can openly call Hillary a 'bitch' or a 'feminazi,' but he wouldn't dare trade in racial stereotypes with Obama. Or will he, eventually? Will racism, in the end, turn out to be just as virulent as the sexism that's apparent now?

That's entirely possible, but just this minute I'm intrigued by our sexism, and how it's being reflected in these gay commentators. There's a general perception that gay men and straight women share some sort of Sex-in-the-City-like sisterhood, but it isn't really true; in the end, gay men are men, not women, and there's a surprisingly nasty sexism that often surfaces out of our gossip and conversation. There's also often a lingering animosity between gay men and lesbians (who have reportedly been prominent in Hillary's circles). Yes, gay sexism exists, and it could certainly manifest itself against Ms. Clinton.

Still, making this simple case against Drudge and Sullivan (Sullivudge? Drullivan?) is tough, because both are such slippery customers. Drudge, of course, is hard to analyze because he doesn't really write that much, and his eponymous Report is a wacky, pack-rat mosaic in which space aliens and bat boy schmooze with Putin and Bush. Drudge's background is in McDonald's and 7-11 management, and it shows. It's easy to view him - via the lens of affectionate patronization - as more a trailer park eccentric than some envious Internet queen.

As for Sullivan - well, like the rest of the cream of Oxbridge and Harvard, he can push out a rich chunk of rhetoric from the old mental sphincter faster than just about anyone. But at the same time, even his fans I think would admit he's batshit-crazy; indeed, that's part of the fun of reading him: he's got the intriguing charisma that comes from being very fucked up, and his edge of hysteric, indignant offense is always pushing against the polished surface of his prose. Then there's the simple outline of his personal history: the promiscuous gay bottom who demands the right to marry within the Church, the conservative who claims he was pro-Gore (though he generally eviscerated Gore), then cheered on Bush before turning on him, too, all while insisting that Catholicism can be reconciled with libertarianism - really, the list of contradictions is just too long and too weird. I mean not many village sluts would have the cojones to demand a white wedding from the Pope, but Sullivan's up to the challenge. And this is, interestingly, what makes him so American; he often rhapsodizes about his love for our country, and I believe him, because we're insane in exactly the same way he is: we, too, are piously pseudo-religious, and believe fervently, if incoherently, in our right to perpetually, indignantly re-invent ourselves.

Some, of course, might ponder Sullivan's hatred of Hillary as actually a kind of endorsement (after all, he said of Gore things like: "fundamentally a political coward . . . a corpulent Cassandra . . . weaselly . . . one of the most naked opportunists in American politics"). And Sullivan's often driven by personal vendetta under the cover of principle (his long campaign against Howell Raines, who reportedly fired him from the Times, is one example). So maybe the current vitriol is just payback from the nineties. And is Drudge, meanwhile, still in some sort of psychological battle with his liberal, Jewish parents? Perhaps. Still, it's worth pondering the meaning of the curious correspondence between these two gay scourges.

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