Opening (Some) Doors for Blair's Son
Prime minister's kid gets plum internship with closeted anti-gay GOP congressman
Unlike most Americans his age, 21-year-old Euan Blair, son of the British prime minister, is about to get a real education: an internship on the House Rules Committee under the GOP's most powerful closeted congressman, David Dreier.
As the Sunday Telegraph (U.K.) reports today, Tony Blair is leaving his child behind in D.C. for three months of mentoring by Dreier. Aside from the humorous (yet not surprising) development of a Labor Party PM's son working for the Republican Party, young Blair ought to get the full flavor of the venality and hypocrisy of U.S. politics.
Veteran lefty journalist (and former Voice press critic) Doug Ireland sums it up neatly on his blog, Direland:
Well, what's so surprising? Tony Blair began his reign by imitating the sell-out triangulations of Bill Clinton and has moved steadily to the right of traditional Labour policies ever since—not just on foreign policy but on economic issues and civil liberties. By getting the British Embassy to snaggle a job with Dreier for his son, it looks like the prime minister wants to make sure young Euan doesn't stray too far from the family right-wing line.
In an editorial just before the Brits' recent elections, the Independent growled that Tony Blair "is essentially a con man." So is the two-faced Dreier, who keeps his male lover on the Congressional payroll at a salary equal to that of Karl Rove and the White House chief of staff Andy Card—but continues to use his power to step on the rights of gays to full equality before the law. Don't drop the soap around Dreier, Euan.
Ireland's entitled to crack wise—he outed himself long ago. Last September 24, Ireland helped spread the word in the L.A. Weekly by reporting Dreier's outing by blogactive.com's Mike Rogers a few days before—Rogers gave the Southern California congressman the dreaded "Roy Cohn Award." But the mainstream media has never picked up on the Dreier story. Ireland noted at the time that neither Dreier nor his staff replied to repeated requests for comment.
Aside from Dreier's juggling of his personal life with his hardline anti-gay stance, young Euan will learn quite a lot about D.C. The House Rules Committee is extremely powerful, and Dreier, even apart from it, is also no slouch: He was the head of Arnold Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial transition team a few years back.
At one time you could say that the Democratic and Labor parties had a lot in common. Apparently they still do—they've moved to the right in tandem. Nevertheless, some Democrats are dismayed. As the Telegraph story by Andrew Murray-Watson and Philip Sherwell says:
- Despite his father's close relationship with President George W. Bush, the news that Euan is to work for the Republican-led committee has stunned Democrats in Washington. Eric Burns, the communications director for Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, the leading Democrat on the committee, said: "Working on the Rules Committee will be quite a learning process as it has always been one of the most partisan in the House. It is extremely surprising that the son of a Labour prime minister would intern with the Republican majority staff on the committee."
Back to the question of Dreier's personal life: His choice of lovers is obviously nobody's business but his own, but that's the point: He's an ardent supporter of legislation that denies gay people privacy and equal rights because of their choice of lovers. As Ireland explained last fall:
I have always taken the view that outing a gay person should be approached with caution, and that in doing so one should strictly adhere to the Barney Frank Rule. As articulated by the openly gay Massachusetts congressman during another anti-gay GOP witch-hunt over a decade ago, when Frank threatened to out a number of gay-baiting Republican fellow congressmen, the rule insists that outing is only acceptable when a person uses their power or notoriety to hurt gay people.
Dreier clearly meets that standard, for his voting record is strewn with anti-gay positions. To cite just a few: He opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would have banned discrimination against gay people in hiring; voted for the gay-bashing Defense of Marriage Act; voted for banning adoption by gay and lesbian couples in the District of Columbia (3,000 miles away from Dreier's district); voted to allow federally funded charities to discriminate against gays in employment, even where local laws prohibit such bias; and voted against the Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
Ireland's column last fall raised a ruckus in Southern California, and his follow-up piece gave a good clue about why the U.S. press is so pusillanimous when it comes to challenging establishment figures:
I had questioned, in my article, why the chain of daily papers in Dreier's district had been silent on the contrast between Dreier's anti-gay voting record and his closeted gay life. And I heard from the Pasadena Star-News (one of the larger dailies in this chain) requesting information. But, when I asked the reporter who called me if the Star-News would be running a story the next day, he warned me not to expect a story "any time soon" while telling me he couldn't fill me in—even off the record—on the discussions about it at the Pasadena paper.
Trying to talk to journalists from this pro-Republican Valley newspaper chain about Dreier is like trying to talk to a reporter from Pravda about Stalin in the dictator's salad days—the fear of reprisals from management is palpable. Clearly, the "don't ask, don't tell" editorial policy about Dreier's straight hypocrisy is still in effect in the Media News Group's string of San Gabriel Valley dailies—none of which have published a single word about all this.
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