It wasn’t long ago that Lyndon Johnson was running a losing battle for Congress (it was 1948) against a wealthy pig farmer in Texas. According to Hunter S. Thompson, Johnson "was sunk in despair. He was desperate... he called his equally depressed campaign manager and instructed him to...accuse his high-riding opponent (the pig farmer) of having routine carnal knowledge of his barnyard sows, despite the pleas of his wife and children... His campaign manager was shocked. ‘We can't say that, Lyndon,’ he said. 'It's not true.’ ‘Of course it's not,’ Johnson barked at him, ‘but let's make the bastard deny it.’”
Johnson won, by the way, and went on to become president (you may have heard). And he’d basically perfected the smear campaign. We can’t think of too many other candidates who’ve accused their opponents of bestiality, but the sexual-orientation smear always seems to rear its head in politics.
Just recently, Americans For Legal Immigration leader William Gheen accused Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina of being gay, saying to the senator via public speech: “You need to come forward and tell people about your alternative lifestyle and your homosexuality.” Gheen went on to pull the old 'I don't care if you're gay or not, I just think you should stop lying' thing.
Anyway, that’s sad. But it’s nice to know there’s a flip side to the coin. The Associated Press is reporting that Rep. Babette Josephs, Pennsylvania’s representative for the 182nd District (which includes the Gayborhood) is accusing her primary opponent, Gregg Kravitz, of being straight.
Josephs has been on the campaign trail repeating the meme, though Inky columnist Karen Heller claims Kravitz denied the charges to her face. He called the straight smear “categorically untrue. I am a bisexual man. I am attracted to men and women.” Then he told Keller that maybe it’s Josephs who doesn’t understand stuff, especially “the meaning of bisexual.” Because that’s the line. Kravitz is bi. (Cynical guy says: Talk about pandering to the middle.)
Josephs told a Black Sheep Pub fundraiser audience that she “outed [Kravitz] as a straight person," and that, actually, “He's said so many things to so many different people that I am puzzled.” Flip-flopper! Josephs is really just worried about Kravitz’s credibility. I mean, how can you really trust a guy who, as she said at a recent fundraiser, “swings both ways"?
She also accuses Kravitz of having trust-fund money. He denies it.
It’s 2010 and politicians are now smeared for being wealthy and straight. Mark Segal, publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News has called it a “high point” for civil rights, and we’ve got to agree. “I take that as flattery,” he told the Inquirer. “It shows how far we've come.”
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