This is not a surprise to people who have spent any time at all over the past eight years listening to even the mildest gossip about Republicans. During the 2006 pedophilia/men's bathroom scandals of the GOP, Mehlman was talked about fairly frequently. I suspect there were several bloggers who really wanted to out him. I also suspect that his own personal stance (no pun intended) on gay issues probably saved his bacon from embarrassment.
Ken Mehlman came out last night, and vowed to defeat Proposition 8 in California. This takes a lot more courage than we suspect, but not as much courage as he'd like us to believe.
The interesting thing to note here is how many high profile Republicans have engaged in the battle against Prop 8: Ted Olson, former Solicitor General for Dumbya and on the short list for the SCOTUS during those years is one of the lead attorneys in the fight. And now, Ken Mehlman, who probably has a fairly robust and wealthy Rolodex.
(side note: in this age of Blackberries and iPhones, does anyone even HAVE a Rolodex anymore?)
Back to courage. Undoubtedly, Mehlman could have gone into retirement quietly. His legacy, re-electing the most unpopular President in history, would have been safe. He chose not to do that. Grudgingly, I tip my hat to him. It's important to appreciate when someone does the right thing for the right reasons. Hell, from Republicans, I'd applaud doing the right thing for the wrong reasons! Half right from the right is alright by me.
He shows courage in this fight by outting himself at a time when the monster he's helped create and nurture, the right wing wacknutcase Teabaggers, has reared its ugly head and released a full-throated yawp across the landscape. While I'm convinced the Teabaggers are a one-off phenomenon, they have altered the political landscape of the Republican party, making it dangerous for anyone of any moderate tendencies, much less a minority like blacks or gays. I anticipate Mehlman will be excoriated by many, defended by some, but forever held at arm's length.
He really has no one to blame but himself. If he's going to show true courage, it is incumbent upon him to "refudiate" the Palinistas and speak up and speak out about the hate he has engendered.
It may be two years too late for Mehlman to demonstrate the kind of political and personal courage to alter the river of hate that flows through his party. If in 2008 he had made this revelation, if in 2008 he had come out and opposed the anti-homosexual measures that his party was taking to drive the fear vote in the hinterlands, that would have been courage. It would have been courage to stand up in 2008 against Prop 8, back when it could have been prevented in the first place.
Perhaps he believed it couldn't happen here. Perhaps he believed that California would never in a million years pass a hate crime masquerading as legislation. That's a plausible position to take, but still...the possibility always exists. In the day and age of stridency that Mehlman himself has helped foment, true courage would have been to acknowledge your own failures.