Giuliani in Drag

I've long been struck by the memory of president Bush's encounter with a transgendered member of his own Yale class at a reunion. Bush intuitively understood that transgendered men and women deserve respect and acceptance:

Louise Casselman, who was at that White House Yale reunion with her husband, Kirk Casselman and a Bay Area contingent, says that although Yale was still all-male in 1968, one alum has since had a sex-change operation. "You might remember me as Peter when we left Yale," said the woman upon coming face to face with the president. George W. didn't pause for a moment, reports Casselman, grabbed the alumna's hand, and said "Now you've come back as yourself." Casselman says the host was generous and open.

That is, of course, how civilized, educated people behave. Now compare it to the sophomoric Giulianidrag prejudice proudly displayed at National Review. You have a cover-story whose image is Rudy Giuliani in drag as a symbol of everything "conservatives" would find distasteful in a Giuliani candidacy. To be clear here: a straight man dressing up as a woman for pantomime purposes is just ... a straight guy comfortable with his masculinity having fun. It's been done for ever. It has nothing to do with sexual orientation or being transgendered or even cross-dressing as a form of personal expression. It's just high jinks. There's no conceivable reason why any sane conservative would object to a leader having a good time, and not taking himself too seriously. And yet Kathryn-Jean Lopez believes it's

a great image to get to the heart of conservative misgivings about him.

What can she mean? That Giuliani is publicly tolerant of and comfortable with gay people and supports civil unions for gay couples? But what does drag have to do with that? Does K-Lo equate all gay love with drag? John Podhoretz, scion of New York Jewish intellectuals, speaks for the Christian heartland:

I  understand that liberals think conservatives are so stupid they won't be able to draw a distinction between a stunt and the real thing. But not conservatives themselves!

Fair enough - but does JPod therefore mean that the "real thing" would indeed be a problem? Or should be? And what is, for JPod, the "real thing"? Someone who is transgendered? Is that something inherently offensive to "conservatives"? Notice we're not talking about any policy position here - just a prejudice toward a tiny minority of people who are different from the rest of us. Empirically, there may well be a case that such a person could never command any popular support. But NR seems to go further than that. Rather than resisting such prejudice, they accept and foment it, deploying images designed to exploit homophobia for political ends. JPod's contempt for gay people as such is demonstrable. And this is what conservatism, in some quarters, has now sadly become.