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A semi sorta apology for bigotry

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

It’s always fascinating to behold the behavior of a politician during a crisis of his own making. At first, he’ll typically deny he said or did anything wrong. He’ll defy his critics by refusing to budge an inch. But, eventually, he’ll try to wriggle free, either by shifting blame, or claiming to be misunderstood, or whatever. And in the final phase of the crisis, he’ll grudgingly mutter some form of sorry.

For instance, let’s consider the past three days in the life of Carl Paladino. As you probably know by now, he’s the Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York – and, perhaps more importantly, he is yet another tea-party gift to our national political discourse.

Late yesterday afternoon, a Paladino email landed with a thud in my in-box. I will now disconstruct his message, which can best be described as a semi-apologia for the bigotry he expressed toward gay people in a Sunday speech. This weasily email is worth a close look, because it’s a classic of the genre.

But first, a quick recap. While speaking Sunday to an approving audience of Orthodox Jewish leaders, Paladino did some verbal gay-bashing. After warning that “we must stop pandering to the pornographers and the perverts who seek to target our children and destroy their lives,” he made it clear that he viewed gays as one broad category of perverts.

To wit: “I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family, and I don’t want them brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid and successful option. It isn’t.” He assailed opponent Andrew Cuomo’s decision to march last year in a gay pride parade, saying “That’s not the example we should be showing our children.” His prepared speech text also stated, “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual…That’s not how God created us,” although Paladino didn’t recite this out loud.

Naturally, Paladino quickly found himself under fire. There’s no need here to detail the reasons why. Suffice it to say that he came off as a tad medieval when he said (a) that gays should not be viewed as equal citizens of our society, and (b) that our children should not be “brainwashed” into thinking so.

His first defense strategy was to hunker down and say nothing; he declined interview requests. His second strategy was defiance. In a Monday appearance on The Today Show, he doubled down, characterizing New York’s gay pride parade as an opportunity to watch “a couple of grown men grind against each other. I don’t think it’s proper. I think it’s disgusting.”

I do want to get to his email, with all deliberate speed, but first let’s pause to recognize the hilarity of this guy seeking to define what is or what is not “disgusting” – given his documented track record of swapping, with his buddies, a range of emails that include photos of a woman having sex with a horse (entitled “Easy Steady Big Fella”), a plane landing right behind a group of black men (with the caption “Run N—-s Run!”), and Barack Obama photoshopped to look like a pimp.

Anyway, the email is Paladino’s bid to tamp down the furor over his anti-gay remarks. These tea-party candidates are supposed to be outsiders, but this one has all the traits of a typical, rationalizing politician. The email has all the standard excuses:

It’s the staff’s fault. Paladino writes, “I was handed a script. I redacted some contents that were unacceptable.” Yeah, the bigotry just somehow landed in his hands. Blaming staffers is an old dodge; it works only if we ignore the basic truth, which is that staffers by definition seek to please the boss. Paladino’s speechwriter crafted the anti-gay passages because he knew they reflected Paladino’s thinking.

It’s my tongue’s fault. Paladino writes, “I did also say some things for which I should have chosen better words…I ask you for forgiveness on my poorly chosen words.” This is another old dodge, the notion that somehow a politician’s views would sound better with a different set of nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Which means, of course, that his basic views remain unchanged.

It’s the press’ fault. Well, duh. We knew that one was coming. Blaming the media is the oldest dodge of all. Paladino writes, “I said other things that the press misinterpreted and misstated.” He doesn’t give any examples, but he was apparently referring to his prepared text passage about the “dysfunctional homosexual.” Some early newspaper stories reported that he had verbally uttered the passage. He didn’t. But he has yet to explain why that passage was “unacceptable,” since it basically reflects what he said aloud.

Oh, all right, if you insist. Finally, the mea culpa: “I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the gay and lesbian communitty or their family members. Any reference to branding an entire community based on a small representation of them is wrong.”

But what really matters is what he initially said on Sunday – and what he failed to say on Sunday. Two days earlier, nine men in the Bronx had been arrested for torturing a trio of people whom they suspected of being gay. Last month, a Rutgers student jumped off a bridge after two classmates outed him via a broadcast over the Internet. Paladino never referenced either incident in his Sunday speech; instead, he gave fresh license to gay-bashers by characterizing gays as marginal people.

This is what happens when extremists invade the two-party system. Even worse, let us count the number of Republican establishment leaders who have come to the fore to denounce Paladino’s remarks. I’m still on my first finger. That says it all.


Programming note: Delaware Senate candidates Christine “I’m Not a Witch” O’Donnell and Chris Coons are slated to debate tonight at 7:30; it will be broadcast live on WHYY. I’m scheduled to add my two cents during the post-debate analysis.


  • tom - wilmington de says:

    Did anyone else catch the news about the states missing the deadline for mailing absentee ballots to the troops? The DOJ has filed a suit against New York, and now it appears that Illinois has also missed the deadline. Isn’t it the Dem party that is always so worried about voters being disenfranchised, and about every vote counting? Then why did two of the more Democrat controlled states both miss the deadline for ballots to those serving, fighting and dying for this country?

    • swedesboromike says:

      Because those voters generally vote Republican. Does anyone really think Democrats give a hoot about Mexicans? They see democratic voters and therefore they want to find ways for them to vote. If they thought Mexicans would be Republican voters they would want a fence 50 foot high.

  • swedesboromike says:

    I’ll concede that Republicans lose their way discussing god, gays, guns, and abortion. By the same token Democrats and the left wing media are right there to pounce the minute any conservative brings up these topics but they turn a blind eye to pro life Democrats like Bob Casey or pro man/woman marriage Presidents like Barack Obama. As a voter concerned about taxes, size of government, fiscal responsibility, and national defense I would not qualify or disqualify a candidate based on the views of social issues. Republicans would be wise to follow the lead of Chris Christie on these matters as he rarely brings up the subject and focuses on issue that matter a whole lot more than ” wedge issues”

    • landscape says:

      Wow, human rights are now a wedge issue!!

      • swedesboromike says:

        What a ridiculous comment. So Obama is against human rights for supporting traditional marriage. Democrat Bob Casey is against human rights for being pro life? If this is how you feel then why is Obama and Casey given a pass yet you pounce on a conservative? seems hypocritical to me. And if we want to talk about intolerance then what about the Muslim faith? For Islam, you on the left have infinate tolerance. But I guess I am generalizing. ” sigh”

        • landscape says:

          Mike, because I disagree with you does not mean I am on the left, or on the right. It only means that I diasagree with you. You know, there really are non-partisan issues.

        • swedesboromike says:

          Landscape- you didn’t answer my question.

  • jmc says:

    The Obama administration is appealing the ruling from yesterday which effectively puts an end to “don’t ask, don’t tell”. And we all know Obama does not support gay marriage. What conclusion should I draw about the President regarding homosexuality?

    • F. Inahoy says:

      He’s on the down-low?

      • Logathis says:

        That was mature Inahoy. Or should I say Inaboy? I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist that zinger.

        • F. Inahoy says:

          What kind of homophobic monster are you?

        • sxmueller says:

          Mr Inahoy, at least Logathis is “attempting an apology.”. From your earlier post, that should make things okay, correct? Also, you may not like President Obama, but you should respect the office of the President. So making a veiled reference to President Obama’s sexuality is just disrepectful. Stay classy my friend.

        • landscape says:

          You should have resisted. Why does a blog have to turn into name calling just because people disagree? And then the tit for tat… That’s kid stuff.

        • Logathis says:

          It was a joke people. I’m not homophobic. I think gay people are born gay, should have EVERY right any other American has(including legal marriage), and are an essential contribution to America’s cultural landscape. I am sorry for parodying your username F. Inahoy. I was attempting to be humorous, but I crossed the line. landscape is right that this forum shouldn’t devolve into childish zingers and name-calling. However, F. Inahoy’s veiled assertion that President Obama is on the ‘down-low'(that would be a closeted black man for those not in the know) is beyond the pale. The man emphatically believes in Jesus Christ as his savior, and has a wife and two kids. Back to the real discussion: It’s hilarious to hear Paladino talk about the gay pride parade he ‘stumbled’ onto in Toronto. Dude needs to come out to beautiful San Fran and take in the local culture. Maybe he’d be a little less scared next time he sees men in drag and leather.

  • Logathis says:

    Conservative Republicans condemning other’s for what is none of their business!? I am shocked! You gotta love the use of the wording in the apology. “I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended….” May? He wouldn’t be apologizing if people had only maybe been offended. They were deeply offended, and that’s why he’s apologizing. This buffoon is too easy to ridicule.

    • Tom - wilmington, de says:

      First, when a group tries to get something legislated that other do not agree with, then it becomes their business. Second, the word “may” is used because there wre probably people who were not offended by the remarks, either because they are idiotic enough to believe the same tripe, or because they simply do not care.

  • Tom - wilmington, de says:

    Here is neat semi-apology, from the NYTimes..”In the magazine article, Mr. Obama reflects on his presidency, admitting that he let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend Democrat,” realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” and perhaps should have “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts” in the stimulus.” Take particular interest in the “no such thing as shovel ready projects”, which was a major component of the stimulus, which has supposedly worked as designed.

    • Logathis says:

      Wow Tom that has absolutely no relevance to what we’re talking about. Keep up the good work!

      • F. Inahoy says:

        Well, at least Paladino is attempting an “apology.” As Obama leaves a wake of economic destruction in his path and decimates his party in the upcoming election he still manages to blame everyone else (including that Bush guy) for everything that’s gone wrong.

      • Tom - wilmington, de says:

        Hey, one apology example deserves another, right? Better I had referenced Brown’s P-poor apology for his Whitman insult? You know, right? When he seemed more worried about the phone conversation being recorded without permission than about his comment? Also, he states he cannot figure out who uttered the comment, even though he was in the room, involved in the conversation when the comment was made. Just another poor example of an apology where the perp believed one was not necessary.

        • Logathis says:

          Why would Brown apologize? He didn’t utter the word in question. Besides, his aide made a valid point, even with the slur. She promised pension reform, then when the police unions cried foul, she caved. She wants to change all other public employee pensions, but not the cop’s? Not surprisingly, the LA police union endorsed her.

    • NigeltheMastiff says:

      Tom, surely you aren’t suggesting that Obama’s apology, as you characterize it, is on a par with the inflammatory, bigoted and hateful remarks of Paladino toward an entire group of people? You almost sound as though you’re defending him. I simply can’t believe that you are that narrow minded. It’s fine to disagree with policies, as your post suggests you do with Obama’s, but to equate Obama’s remarks with Paladino’s is just a non-starter — and wrong. Surely you can admit that he is way out of line on this?

      • Tom - wilmington, de says:

        Nigel, did you read my other post? Good ole Carl is just way out of bounds. True, his comments were made to a group of extremely orthodox, I believe Hasidic Jews, who wanted to hear exactly what he stated. However, that just shows how he will pander for votes. He was reading the comments as if it was the first time he had seen them. Better he had just spoken off the cuff. Either way, it was inexcusable and is just more evidence that this campaign, since winning the primary, just self destructed.

        • NigeltheMastiff says:

          Thank goodness, Tom. You shook my confidence in you for a moment or two. And I’ve always considered you very level-headed. Nice to know that you still are. (Of course, I still disagree with you, but I’m fine with that, aren’t you?) :)

  • Tom - wilmington, de says:

    In just a couple of weeks, good old Carl will be an afterthought and his will be a case study as to how to destroy a candidacy. Hard to believe that after the primary he only trailed Andrew by 6 points, now he is going to get totally destroyed. It is a shame too, because in electing Cuomo, NY will be putting in the governors office a former HUD director who was at the forefront of the current housing and economic crisis.

  • Paul says:

    I love how anyone who has offended a group of people always puts the line “if I offended or may have offended” anyone I apologize. If you’re not offended or agree with the offensive words then person is not apologizing.

    • landscape says:

      also .. If it’s qualified, it is not an apology! Do politicians do this so that their loyalists think that they have apologized or can say that they have?

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