THE REAL GEORGE BUSH?….Lanny Davis, a longtime Democratic attorney and former counsel to Bill Clinton, was also a classmate of George Bush’s at Yale. He tells this anecdote today in the LA Times:

One of my most vivid memories is this: A few of us were in the common room one night. It was 1965, I believe ? my junior year, his sophomore. We were making our usual sarcastic commentaries on those who walked by us. A little nasty perhaps, but always with a touch of humor. On this occasion, however, someone we all believed to be gay walked by, although the word we used in those days was “queer.” Someone, I’m sorry to say, snidely used that word as he walked by.

George heard it and, most uncharacteristically, snapped: “Shut up.” Then he said, in words I can remember almost verbatim: “Why don’t you try walking in his shoes for a while and see how it feels before you make a comment like that?”

Remember, this was the 1960s ? pre-Stonewall, before gay rights became a cause many of us (especially male college students) had thought much about.

Davis seems to think that this somehow excuses Bush’s gay marriage demagoguery during the election, something that Bush now appears to be backing away from. “I hope it suggests a return to the ‘compassionate conservatism’ I remember and that he practiced in his two terms as governor of Texas,” he says.

Let’s take this at face value ? which I’m inclined to do. I don’t know Bush’s heart any better than anyone, but I’ve heard enough anecdotes like this to convince me that Bush personally has nothing against gays and nothing against equal rights for gays.

So what does this mean? It means that even though Bush’s own moral values dictated tolerance and understanding in this case, he deliberately decided to betray his own beliefs and appeal instead to the most bigoted and divisive aspects of his fellow citizens in order to win the presidency. And he’s backing down now only because homophobic bigotry is no longer useful to his ambitions.

Please excuse me while I retch.

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