Rich: GOP Goes Mute

Earlier this month when Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called to end the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, a strange thing happened: the GOP was silent. Despite the expected criticism from John McCain, Republicans had little else to say on the topic, and in today’s New York Times columnist Frank Rich writes, "The right’s noise machine was on mute." The proposed repeal also received little attention from TV networks, with Fox News sharing a brief, fair report and CNN attempting to gain more viewers by featuring old homophobic clichés. But why? Much of it had to do with Mullen's testimony, writes Rich. "As more gay people have come out—a process that accelerated once the modern gay rights movement emerged from the Stonewall riots of 1969—so more heterosexuals have learned that they have gay relatives, friends, neighbors, teachers and co-workers. It is hard to deny our own fundamental rights to those we know, admire and love," writes Rich. But there’s also little political advantage to homophobia, with many independents trending closer to Democrats than Republicans on social issues.