In Arizona, We Don't Know From Subtle
You can see the TV ad that caused Mike Taylor, the underfunded GOP Senate candidate in Montana, to drop out of the race here or here (with options to download or stream). The Internet has hosted a major debate whether the ad is beyond-the-pale gay-bashing or more-than-a-little-amusing heterosexual “Disco Stu” bashing. As you might expect, most conservative/Republican commentators find the gay-bashing crystal clear, with most liberal/Democratic observers cracking up at “Disco Stu.” View the ad and decide for yourself.
Anyone in Arizona probably isn’t well-equipped with the necessary subtextual radar to decide which applies. During this campaign season, we have gotten our gay-bashing strictly overt and blatant, with no subtext necessary: anonymous “Vote Gay” signs placed next to signs for the Democratic candidate for governor here, who happens to be an unmarried woman. I don’t recall much of a fuss in conservative/Republican circles about such obvious gay-bashing; maybe it was just too obvious for them to care.
But the most interesting thing about the conservative/Republican reaction to the Montana hairdresser ad is the comparisons to the first Bush campaign’s use of Willie Horton in 1988. The hairdresser ad is being called gay-bashing as just as bad as the subtextual racism in that attack on Dukakis—which means that these conservative/Republican commentators, some 14 years late, now find the use of Willie Horton as racist, something I don’t recall them admitting at the time.
Who knows? If Noam Chomsky just lives long enough, maybe he can have his past utterances ignored and get rehabilitated and respected, just like Strom Thurmond.