Daily Archives: April 9, 2005

I trust this hasn’t escaped your eye

“G.O.P.Consultant Marries His Male Partner” the NYT headline proclaims. And who better to supply the byline than that chic-est of all sob sisters Adam Nagourney?

WASHINGTON, April 8 – Arthur J. Finkelstein, a prominent Republican consultant who has directed a series of hard-edged political campaigns to elect conservatives in the United States and Israel over the last 25 years, said Friday that he had married his male partner in a civil ceremony at his home in Massachusetts.

Mr. Finkelstein, 59, who has made a practice of defeating Democrats by trying to demonize them as liberal, said in a brief interview that he had married his partner of 40 years to ensure that the couple had the same benefits available to married heterosexual couples.

“I believe that visitation rights, health care benefits and other human relationship contracts that are taken for granted by all married people should be available to partners,” he said.

He declined further comment on the wedding, which was in December.

That this lower life form made any comment whatsoever is rather remarkable. As this CNN story shows Finkelstein is most reluctant to having his picture taken. As for the words dribbling out of his mouth on this occasion, they carry about as much weight as a car dealer’s insistence on the thrift of an SUV.

Some of Mr. Finkelstein’s associates said they were startled to learn that this prominent American conservative had married a man, given his history with the party, especially at a time when many Republican leaders, including President Bush, have campaigned against same-sex marriage and proposed amending the Constitution to ban it.

Oh really? Fits right in with classic Republican “I’ve got mine — Fuck You!” politics.

Mr. Finkelstein has been allied over the years with Republicans who have fiercely opposed gay rights measures, including former Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, and has been the subject of attacks by gay rights activists who have accused him of hypocrisy. He was identified as gay in a Boston Magazine article in 1996.

Sadly that article, which goes into Finkelstein’s life and political career in great detail is no longer available on line — even from the “archives” of Boston magazine.

One of Mr. Finkelstein’s associates, who declined to speak on the record, citing Mr. Finkelstein’s desire for privacy, said Mr. Finkelstein did not view his marriage as a political statement and had specifically decided to have a civil ceremony rather than a religious one.

Well of course, stupid. Because a “religious ceremony” is of no legal value whatsoever a simple fact whose painfully obvious ramifications I’ve pointed out in the past

This associate argued that over the past 20 years, Mr. Finkelstein had identified himself as a libertarian and an opponent of big government, distancing himself from social conservatives as they have gained political muscle and dominance in the party.

“Libertarian” being the “But I’m really bisexual” of the right.

Mr. Finkelstein’s associates declined to provide his spouse’s name.

Yoo Hoo! It’s Charley Manning!

He was married at his home by a gay state official, whose name and office were not released.

Tell but don’t ask.

The ceremony was attended by relatives of both men, a few friends and a state legislator, an attendee said.
None of Mr. Finkelstein’s better-known political clients, among them Gov. George E. Pataki of New York and former Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato of New York, attended, that person said. Several of Mr. Finkelstein’s long-term political associates said that he had not told them about the wedding, and that they had learned about it from a reporter.

The wedding was disclosed by an associate of Mr. Finkelstein’s, and he confirmed it in the interview.

So much swanker than Charles and Camilla, don’t you think?

Mr. Finkelstein has frequently come under criticism by gay rights groups for representing politicians who have been ardent foes of gay rights.

No shit, Sherlock. To quote from the Rodrick aritcle —

In 1993, Roberta Achtenberg, a lesbian, was being considered for the position of assistant housing secretary. [Jesse] Helms and [Lauch] Faircloth [two of Finkelstein’s most important clients] acquired a video of Achtenberg taking part in a Washington gay pride march. They attempted to screen it for Repubican senators, but most of them walked away in disgust at Faircloth’s and Helms’ tactics.

“Tactics” taught them by guess who?

From the same article–

On September 10, the Senate defeated an antigay discriumination bill 49-50. Helms, Faircloth, Nickles and Smith voted against the bill. That same month, Finkelstein client Don Nickles, now deputy Senate majority leader, sposored the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as “legal union between one man and one woman.” Its aim is to make homosexual couples ineligible for federal benefits regardless of whether individual states legalize same-sex marriage.

Finkelstein and his companion, of course, are wealthy enough not to be concerned about federal benefits. The couple seem to live a life of domestic tranquility and social bliss in Ipswich with their two children, one of whom bears Finkelstein’s last name, the other the last name of his companion.

But mere wealth is beside the point when compared to the thousands of benefits automatically gained through marriage — and of considerable import when it comes to inheritance for those two kids of theirs.

To return to the NYT piece — which for some reason isn’t on the “Weddings and Celebrations” page:

He helped create the template for a line of attack he repeatedly invoked against Democrats, including Mario M. Cuomo of New York, describing them as liberal.

In Israel, Mr. Finkelstein used similar attacks against the Labor Party as an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and as a consultant to the winning and losing campaigns of Benjamin Netanyahu, the former prime minister.

In other words he’s an agent of a foreign power and should be registered as such.

Somehow I very much doubt that he is.

Mr. Finkelstein has regularly described himself as a libertarian who supports same-sex marriage and abortion rights while opposing big government. In an interview with Maariv, an Israeli newspaper, after the American elections last year, he criticized the Republican Party as growing too close to evangelical Christians, warning it could cause long-term damage to the party.

Gee, he sounds a lot like The Creature From the Blog Lagoon, who in his latest blog-blurt sings Finkelstein’s praises — without of course mentioning his name, being so tasteful and all.

Details of Mr. Finkelstein’s relationship have appeared in regular news accounts over the years, as they did in the Boston Magazine article, which reported that Mr. Finkelstein lived with his partner and two children in Ipswich, Mass.

Still, some conservative friends said Mr. Finkelstein’s marriage would roil conservatives and highlight divisions among them over the importance of social issues to their movement.

Wouldn’t it now?

“In recent years, Arthur hasn’t pretended to be a social conservative,” said one longtime conservative associate, who cited Mr. Finkelstein’s aversion to publicity in declining to be identified. “But this is the same man who was the architect of Jesse Helms’s political rise.”

And in the penultimate paragraph of the Boston magazine article —

As for the contradictions in his past, Finkelstein had reportedly distanced himself from several of his candidates, including Helms, Faircloth, and Nickles. Like many political consultants, Finkelstein seems to feel he is not responsible for the actions of his candidates.

Just like Germans after the Third Reich.

“Talk to Arthur and he’ll say he made a Faustian bargain,” says one GOP consultant. “He’ll say he’s an anticommunist libertarian who worked for a bunch of conservatives who he didn’t agree with on social stuff because he thought they were good anticommunist. And because they paid him well. Now he feels bad about it.”

Awwwwwww — he does? I doubt it. Rather I suspect he’s ever-so-much more likely like Roy Cohn in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America in the scene where he confronts the doctor who tells him he has AIDS:

ROY: Your problem, Henry, is that you are hung up on words, on labels, that you believe they mean what they seem to mean. AIDS. Homosexual. Gay. Lesbian. You think these are names that tell you who someon sleeps with but they don’t tell you that.

HENRY: No?

ROY: No. Like all labels they tell you one thing and one thing only:where does an individual so identified fit into the food chain, in the pecking order? Not ideology, or sexual taste, but something much simpler: clout. Not who I fuck or who fucks me, but who will pick up the phone when I call, who owes me favors. This is what a label refers to. Now to someone who does not understand this, homosexual is what I am because I have sex with men. But realy this is wrong. Homosexuals are not men who sleep with other men. Homosexuals are men who in fifteen years of trying cannot get a pissant antidiscrimination bill through City Council. Homosexuals are men who know nobody and who nobody knows. Who have zero clout. Does this sound like me, Henry?

HENRY: No.

And it doesn’t sound like Arthur Finkelstein either.

Yes, times have changed. The “pissant” bill got passed. Socially and culturally “Homosexuals” have more clout than ever before. Enough to win the likes of Tony Kushner major prizes and widespread recognition. Enough to get the “Sodomy” laws overturned at last. Enough to be called “Gay.” But the clout of Arthur Finkelstein persists.

And so should our memory of everything this loathesome creep has has ever done.