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Thursday, March 03, 2005

Gannongate, Part 6: Republicans - Closing the Gannongate After the Horse Has Left

This is part six of a six-part series. Here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5 in case you missed any. In the last part we talked about the Democratic strategy for squeezing out maximum potential from this affair. This time we’ll focus on the Republican strategy for suppressing this story and making sure that by this time next spring everyone’s saying, “Gannon, who?”

Republicans have three strengths and two potential weaknesses when facing this whole situation. The Republicans' strengths: control of the Executive Branch (the Justice Department decides whether to investigate the Gannon affair), Congress (Congress will be unable to pass a request for a special investigator), and the courts – any investigation need only be undertaken under an enormous amount of pressure and public outrage.

The two potential weaknesses are smart Democrats pursuing the best strategy (see previous part for the potential Democratic strategy), and the religious right. If the Democrats pursue a common-sense strategy their aim will be to either instigate a full-scale investigation and outing of senior administration officials as closet homosexuals (best case scenario from a Democratic perspective) or at least ensure that this White House becomes the butt of gay brothel jokes for the remainder of the term (worst case scenario from a Democratic perspective). A ‘best-case’ scenario can only come about if the religious right wing of the party starts to believe that homosexual activity is taking place in the White House and that it threatens their agenda regarding gay marriage and homosexuality in general. If the religious right wing comes to believe that its agenda is threatened, or that the administration was insincere in its statement of policy, then it will push for a deeper investigation and will want to ‘root out’ those senior administration officials that are undermining its agenda.

Republicans must ensure that the ‘best-case Democratic’ scenario definitely doesn’t come to pass and that any effect from the ‘worst-case Democratic’ scenario is mitigated. The ‘best-case Democratic’ scenario can be forced if the religious right-wing starts to doubt the sincerity of the administration. Now is the time to play the quid-pro-quo game and to throw in some hardball for anyone who still resists. The leaders of the religious right must be told that the whole Gannon affair was just an untimely thorn that has been long since extracted. The White House did not know about Gannon’s homosexuality and it was some low-level staffer who gave Gannon such access to the White House. Point out that President Bush never even met Gannon and only saw him once in a press conference. Both Gannon and the low-level staffer are gone from the administration. The religious right leaders must also be told that the marriage constitutional amendment will be introduced in the fall after completion of the Social Security legislation. It is clear that for the constitutional amendment to be introduced in the fall the president will need a victory in his efforts to reform Social Security. This administration needs their support for this. For anyone who resists and continues to display a proclivity towards asking questions show them that you also have dirt on their life – not embarrassing the administration will result in no embarrassment for them.

In order to mitigate the effect of the efforts of Democrats to tie the administration to gay hookers there must be a complete coverage blackout by most of the media (including non-conventional media such as radio shows, cable shows, right-wing bloggers, etc.). The right-wing radio and cable programs must be instructed not to even mention the story – send senior administration officials to talk about other important policies such as Social Security, the situation with Syria, and even Iraq. Any republican’s response to questions regarding Gannon will basically be “Gannon was just some hack who managed to slip by the background check process, but that’s been taken care of”. The benefit of this response is that it will focus any follow-up questions on the supposed “security breach” which can be addressed by sincerely stating that an investigation is being undertaken and that all issues will be resolved. There will be certain reporters who try to investigate this story, who continue to ask questions during the White House press briefings, but these reporters must be ignored and slowly pushed out of the daily Q&A. The standard response must not be harsh or defensive, and any retribution (towards religious right leaders, right-wing radio or media, and reporters) must be under the table and generally passive (radio host does a piece on Gannon? He’s not going to get a high-profile administration guest for a long time!) so as not to create the impression that there is actually a lot more to the iceberg than can be seen above the water.

Democrats can safely be ignored and any of their questions or comments dismissed as “conspiracy theories, “rumor-mongering”, or “gay-bashing”. If the right-wing media can keep absolutely quite on this whole affair, main-stream Democrats will find it more convenient to talk about other issues such as Social Security, Syria, and Iraq – they will not want to face the vicious rebuttals and accusations of “crazy-talk” and “gay bashing”. The key is not to be defensive about Gannon, but to be on the offense – accuse anyone who brings it up of going off on some crazy conspiracy theory path while ignoring real issues such as the Social Security crisis and Iran’s nuclear program. With discipline, this story will soon be forgotten.

This ends the Bloogeyman's six-part series on Gannongate. Interesting? Thought-provoking? Or, just crazy talk? You Tell Me.