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by Sandip Roy

Stop The Flag-Burning At Same-Sex Weddings, Mr. President!

(PNS) -- I was expecting Grenada and got gay marriage.

With sagging poll numbers in just about everything and with just about everyone, the White House needed a distraction. New faces such as spokesperson Tony Snow, staff chief Josh Bolten and Hank Paulson at Treasury obviously couldn't veer the conversation away from Haditha and gas prices. In the good old days, a time-tested way to change the subject would be to invade some small outpost of evil.

In 1983, Ronald Reagan launched "Urgent Fury" to occupy Cuba-chummy Grenada six days after its prime minister was executed in a coup. It also just happened to be two days after 241 U.S. servicemen were blown up in the Marines barracks in Beirut. The headlines had to change.

But it was easier when we had a vague, big-tent Evil Empire instead of the named and numbered Axis of Evil. It would seem odd now to suddenly take a quick sideswipe at Bolivia while making let's-talk noises to the Iranians.

So in the end it came to the gays to be served up as the sacrificial lamb for the nation to gather around. It's been a hard year, divisive for the Republican base -- Iraq, immigration, the ballooning budget. It's a good thing gays were around to heal the wounds.

The president, in effect sent an old-fashioned telegram out to his runaway base: Party sick. All forgiven. Come home at once. Gays getting married.

The reaction to the President's call to action has been predictable. Howard Dean said the President was using "marriage as a political wedge issue." Sen. Bill Frist said "marriage as an institution should be protected, not redefined." It's so rote, you'd think everyone already had their responses prepared long before the president even opened his mouth.

The curious thing is obviously everyone must know this is a scripted Passion play -- no surprise ending predicted. The chips are down, bring out the old whipping boy. It's like the brand new "Omen" releasing in theaters everywhere this week. Can you scare everyone all over again with the same script and the same creepy ending? At least "The Omen," unlike the White House, changed its cast.

But, really, how many times can you recycle the old bogeyman?

Could Argentina re-invade the Falkland Islands as a diversion if their own economy goes into another tailspin?

The right wing must know the president's heart isn't in it. He's already said he's not going to be calling and twisting arms in the Senate to get votes. The motivation might actually be to get a roll call of senators whose opposition to a constitutional amendment will be portrayed as support for same-sex marriage in election campaigns. And even if the constitutional amendment dies a quiet death on the way to the people, the national conversation gets shifted in that direction.

But I say it's good that Americans are finally distracting themselves with their own. At least it's better than some Sudanese or Afghans finding themselves the startled recipients of U.S. missile strikes to divert attention from an Oval Office sex scandal. Look at it this way, could the gays be saving the Iranians? Now that would be a curious twist given the last time gays were in the news in Iran, they were being hanged.

Yes, there is a silver lining in all of this. At least there's no Grenada.

As for those who accuse this president of pandering to the lowest common denominator, of sowing bigotry, shame. This president knows that to leave a legacy, a man must make some enemies, even among his supporters. Bill Clinton did that with NAFTA and welfare reform, which antagonized so much of his base. President Bush could have made enemies out of his right-wing base on immigration, he could have alienated the neo-cons on Iraq, he could have butted heads with evangelicals on Israel-Palestine.

Instead, he just picked a fight (or maybe just a disagreement?) with his own Veep's daughter -- Mary Cheney. It's a little late in the day, but I say the president is finally coming into his own.

Look at it this way, gays, as you lie splayed on the mid-term elections altar. It's not all bad. Mary Cheney finally came out. "Will and Grace" lasted eight seasons. And over in Grenada, they are breathing a little easier.

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Albion Monitor   June 5, 2006   (

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