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Bush Campaign Manager Finally Comes Out

Ken Mehlman degrading himself: in the old days, such women were called beards.

Well, Ken Mehlman’s finally made it official. First, the news, then my commentary.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Republican Party Chairman Ken Mehlman says in a magazine interview that he is gay.

Mehlman, who was campaign manager for President George W. Bush in 2004 and then RNC chairman after Bush’s re-election, told The Atlantic in an interview published online Wednesday that he came to the conclusion he is gay recently and wanted to talk about it publicly because he wants to become an advocate for gay marriage. He also thought questions would arise when he participates in an upcoming fundraiser for the group challenging California’s ballot measure opposing those marriages.

”It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with that part of my life,” said Mehlman, now an executive vice president with KKR, a New York City-based private equity firm. ”Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I’ve told my family, friends, former colleagues and current colleagues and they’ve been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that has made me a happier and better person. It’s something I wish I had done years ago.”

Mehlman’s leadership positions with the Republican Party came at a time when some in the party were working to put anti-gay ballot measures before the public in several states. He has said he tried to convince Republican officials privately not to attack gay marriage, The Atlantic reported. He also said that, as a solitary Republican, he could not go against the party consensus.

Mehlman, who has never married, said he wishes he had tried to expand the GOP’s outreach to the gay community and worked openly against political initiatives opposing gay marriage.

Let me say three things at the outset: one, I’m happy for him. Coming out, like every other form of telling the truth, always results in personal growth and healing. He can finally live his life now, and I’m glad.

Two, Ken Mehlman is not a bad guy; I’ve always liked him slightly, because it’s been clear for awhile now not only that he’s Gay but that his personal views are a bit different from his public positions.

Three, he stabbed every Gay person in America in the back, because the Bush re-election campaign he presided over was driven by demonizing GLBTs.

Silence = Death, Ken. We’ve been telling you that for 25 years.

Let’s consider why Mehlman sacrificed his own integrity, lied in public and private, and even now is spinning his evolution. He didn’t just “discover” that he’s Gay; he finally accepted it. That’s the only part here that’s new.

He knew what he was doing in 2004 and all the years since. He’s responsible for betraying every other Gay person in America.

Why? For power, wealth and status.

Those were more important than his personal integrity.

After all, since leaving the RNC he’s now an executive VP at KKR, which isn’t just a “private equity firm,” it’s one of the greediest and most rapacious leveraged buyout companies in the world.

Kohlberg Kravitz Roberts uses debt (other people’s money) to dismember companies for a living; the list is long (245 of them since 1981) and famous (Beatrice, Borden, Safeway, Storer Communications, Playtex, Max Factor). They specialize in hostile takeovers and intimidation. They buy something, lay off 10,000 workers, break the company into bits and sell it off piecemeal.

KKR itself doesn’t actually produce anything; it just shuffles all the cards on Wall Street. You know the type; they’re predators. And this is the company Ken Mehlman springboarded into once he left the Republican National Committee.

He claims he’s now “discovered” he’s Gay “recently.” That’s a lie, as he plainly indicates a few lines down in the AP story:

”It’s taken me 43 years to get comfortable with that part of my life,” said Mehlman.

“Discovering” and “getting comfortable” are two different things.

When you discover something, you didn’t know it was there before. He’s known for 43 years “it” was there.

But he didn’t like it; it stood in the way of his ambition. He wanted to be rich and powerful, and now he is.

He’s good enough at his job that President Bush made him his campaign manager, while campaigning against people just like Ken Mehlman.

I could tear him apart more but I won’t. Instead let’s examine his regrets.

“It’s something I wish I had done years ago.”

But he didn’t. He was too busy selling his soul to the devil. And now he wants to buy it back by telling the truth – long after anyone cares.

I hope the devil charges him billions to buy back his soul – more than he’ll ever be able to make at KKR.

People like Mehlman claim to be conservatives; maybe they even think they are. But they don’t live by conservative values, things like hard work; honesty; integrity; responsibility.

Maybe he thinks he’s working hard these days, in his 3-piece Italian suit in his air-conditioned corner office. But that’s easy work; hard work is teaching school, patrolling the streets, picking vegetables in the hot sun, making steel, giving up 15 months of your life (times four or five deployments) in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Any nitwit can pick on vulnerable companies, tear them apart and sell the pieces to other greedy people.

Now Mehlman wants to devote himself to good works. Good luck with that.

(He) wanted to talk about it publicly because he wants to become an advocate for gay marriage.

I’m sure everyone in the Republican Party will promptly repent from scapegoating the most vulnerable members of society, now that Ken Mehlman’s told them to. Illegal immigrants? Check. Gay people? Check. Muslims? Check.

I don’t know why a thoughtful, intelligent, educated human being would think, as Mehlman clearly did, that the Old Rules don’t apply to him. A real conservative would pay attention to the Old Rules about honesty and personal integrity. They derive from every religion on earth; love thy neighbor, etc. Do unto others, etc.

I can’t escape the conclusion that money is his god, not God. “The love of money is the root of all evil” was written a very long time ago; a true conservative wants to preserve everything good about the past.

Ken Mehlman’s crowd aren’t conservatives at all.

Still, all one can do is to hope that he hasn’t destroyed his last chance for personal happiness and fulfillment, that he truly does take responsibility for his hypocrisy and repent of his evil ways. With God all things are possible.

At least Mehlman’s come out at 43, not 63 or 83. I’m sure he can buy himself a cute young man for whom money is also god. There are plenty of them around; being Gay doesn’t inoculate us against that.

But if Mehlman’s really smart he’ll go down to the dirty trenches and pick out the cutest, most dedicated, self-sacrificing Gay activist he can find; someone who can kick his ass the whole length of Broadway, then let him back into the penthouse when he comes home apologizing and taking responsibility for his actions.

I’m not hopeful, though; I bet he finds himself a nice Republican hustler who fits right in with the money crowd at KKR.++

UPDATE: Michael Luo of The New York Times adds this:

There had been speculation about his sexuality, but Mr. Mehlman had in the past denied that he was gay.