William Gheen may be taking the phrase "the personal is political" a little too seriously. The head of the conservative Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) too to the stage of a Greenville, South Carolina Tea Party rally to call for Senator Lindsey Graham to "come out of that log cabin closet." The Huffington Post reports that Gheen called on Graham to "admit" to his purported homosexuality "so the public can rest assured he is not being manipulated with his secret," implying that Graham's long-standing support for immigration report is the result of blackmail and coercion by Democrats.
While Graham often faces scrutiny from both liberal and conservative commentators, the majority of pundits expressed outrage at Gheen's comments.
- A Downside of Tea Party Power Salon's Mike Madden, after declaring Gheen's accusation "pretty slimy, though, even by the standards of ALIPAC," suggests that Gheen's rhetoric shows a systemic problem for Tea Partiers. "Gheen's remarks at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, S.C., won him instant notoriety online, and now it seems like he's trying to capitalize on his fame by being even more outrageous," observes Madden. "Which highlights the potential downside of all this Tea Party energy for Republicans -- the passion the activists have for ideological purity can lead to situations, like this one, where the GOP is the target of their ire."
- Watch Your Language At the Washington Post's PostPartisan blog, Jonathan Capehart points out that Lindsay Graham's leadership on immigration reform is "long-established and well-known" before taking issue with the basic problems of Gheen language. "I'll spare you the lecture on my problem with 'alternative lifestyle' and his being a 'tolerant person.' Gays and lesbians don't need to be tolerated.They need acceptance."
- Simply Pathetic Liberal blogger Steve Benen puts his regular disdain for Graham aside: "I'm not generally in the habit of defending Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), but some of the abuse he's been receiving from the right is ridiculous...The "manipulated" line is especially inane -- as the group sees it, if Graham is trying to work constructively with Democrats on a handful of issues, it may be because Dems are blackmailing him ... For the record, I neither know nor care about Graham's private life. His sexual orientation is irrelevant -- and the attacks are pathetic in either case."
- Grow Up Conservative writer Dan Riehl echoes Benen's ire, minus the verbal pleasantries. "I detest Lindsey Graham's political positions on several issues. But that's politics, not personal. But this Gheen fellow is obviously nothing more than a headline-grabbing piece of human garbage who will do nothing but hurt whatever issue with which he happens to be aligned. His ugliness does not warrant a response from Senator Graham. And any group, or individual aligned with Gheen should disassociate themselves immediately." Ever the comedian, Riehl quips: "Besides, as I said on Twitter, no gay man would be caught dead with a haircut as bad as Graham's."