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Democratic Gay-baiting? You Don't Say...

Here is a radio advertisement running right now in Kentucky, paid for by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. AFSCME is one of the largest unions in America and a major Democratic Party ally, and stands to gain much from the public trough should the Democrats take the White House and increase their majorities in Congress substantially. The ad quite clearly raises the allegation that Mitch McConnell was discharged from the military for homosexual conduct some 40 years ago. AFSCME thinks this is very important for the voters of Kentucky to understand.

In case that advertisement is too subtle, take a look at this flyer, which allegedly has been circulated to 150,000 people in the state:

There really isn't much to say about these attacks other than that they ought to put a damper on the commonly accepted narrative that it's only conservatives who have utterly debased themselves and their brand in this election. These attacks on McConnell are among the most despicable smears of the 2008 elections -- if not the most despicable -- but something tells me that the perpetually outraged commentators bemoaning the tactics of the GOP smear machine and John McCain's sale of his soul to it won't let the above disrupt their storyline of liberal high-mindedness vs. the "ugly mob" that is contemporary conservatism (that the complaints about campaign decorum so often come from people who compare those with whom they disagree to Nazis makes their assertions all the more unserious). 

With prominent exceptions (the inquisition over Mark Foley and the anti-gay witch hunt that followed, Bill Clinton's touting his support for the Defense of Marriage Act on Christian radio stations), gay-baiting has been a Republican, rather than a Democratic, tactic. It is to John McCain's enormous credit -- not that you would ever hear it from his newfound critics in the media, who turned on him once he went from being a thorn in the side of Republicans to the one man standing in the way of Barack Obama's becoming president -- that anti-gay rhetoric has not played a role in this election. Too bad Democrats are picking up the slack.
--James Kirchick