David Brooks and the Liberal Media Lament That a Gay-Baiting GOP "Moderate" Mayoral Candidate in California Can't Beat an "orthodox conservative." Who Is, uh, Gay. And Libertarian.


On March 29, New York Times columnist David Brooks lamented that a telegenic young veteran and would-be rising Republican star Nathan Fletcher felt compelled to quit the California GOP and run as an independent moderate after failing to gain support from the party in his run for San Diego mayor:

[A]s Scott Lewis of has detailed, the San Diego Republican Party has moved sharply right recently. A group of insurgents have toppled the old city establishment. As Lewis wrote, "The Republican Party has gone through a fantastically effective effort to enforce conformity around its principles."

The G.O.P. central committee and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, an activist group, spurned Fletcher in the mayor's race, endorsing the more orthodox conservative, Councilman Carl DeMaio.

That same day, Huffington Post California-politics columnist William Bradley wrote essentially the same column about poor Nathan Fletcher:

He hasn't moved to the left. His party has moved further to the right, with its endorsed candidate, San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, helping lead the way. […]

Fletcher has also backed gay rights, giving an emotional speech in the Capitol as a decorated Marine veteran opposing the "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy and voting for legislation requiring curriculum materials to reflect the role of gays and lesbians in history. And he's an advocate of renewable energy, voting for [Gov. Jerry] Brown's legislation to require that 33% of all electric power in California come from renewable sources by the end of 2020. […]

Fletcher's move sets up a very intriguing test case for Republicans who haven't turned their backs on modernity and governance.

Loving moderates, hating ideologues.

Chimed in John Wildermuth at Fox & Hounds Daily:

Fletcher ran into some uniquely Republican problems during his time in Sacramento. He supported gay rights measures, like Democratic state Sen. Mark Leno's effort to require state textbooks to recognize the accomplishments of gays and lesbians. Fletcher voted for environmental legislation. He backed Gov. Jerry Brown's jobs program and, horror of horrors, had the reputation of being willing to work with the Democratic leadership in the Assembly.

The party's conservative base was quick to suggest that Fletcher was a RINO, or Republican in name only. Or even, they said with gasp, a moderate.

Over at Rachel Maddow's blog that same day, Kent Jones said this:

Come on out, moderate, goal-oriented Republicans. We know you're out there.

And four days later, proving once again that the L.A. Times will make sure to get it wrong and get it last, Sacramento columnist George Skelton wrote more in that vein, in a column I cannot read because of the newspaper's new reader-hating firewall, but which I am told also describes Carl DeMaio as an "orthodox conservative." Which, it turns out, is grossly inaccurate. Here's Scott Lewis at (where I harvested some of these links):

One important note about both Brooks' and Skelton's columns. They label DeMaio an "orthodox conservative," but that's hardly the case.

Weird, right? He seems like such a knuckle-dragger compared to the enlightened, gay-friendly Fletcher, even if–remarkably–none of the Fletcher-laments linked above ever talk about what makes Carl DeMaio so conservative.

Former Reason editor Virginia Postrel, from whom I harvested most of these links, has much more:

I knew Carl DeMaio slightly when he was barely out of college and working for the Reason Public Policy Institute. RPPI was a very wonky place and he didn't seem like a scary guy, but maybe he's taken on some unsavory positions. I don't know, and you won't know either if you rely on Brooks or Bradley to tell you. They aren't interested in the actual candidate's policies, only in using DeMaio as a symbol of evil right-wing crazies. […]

My friend Cosmo Wenman, who lives in the San Diego metro area […] points out that Carl DeMaio is San Diego's first openly gay city councilman, a fact that probably didn't turn up in the 10 minutes David Brooks spent researching his column but that Bill Bradley, a veteran California political writer, surely knows. So why does he mislead readers by emphasizing Fletcher's pro-gay credentials, leaving us to infer that DeMaio is a social con?

Not only that, but super-moderate hero Nathan Fletcher has been accusing DeMaio of semi-secretly pushing a pro-gay agenda when he's talking to certain "communities":

Family values: Family values are very important to me. As a married father of two, I take very seriously my commitment to my wife and children.  As a Christian of strong faith, I take seriously my commitment to God. However, I do not believe it is the role of government to legislate religion and impose our moral values.  That is the role of the institutions of family and faith.  We have looked to government for too much intervention in people's individual freedoms and personal lives.  Please know and appreciate that I am consistent in this position—regardless of what community I am speaking to and how it might affect a scorecard.  I know from conversations with many of you that Carl Demaio tells you he will never advocate or push social issues related to sexual orientation.  However, this doesn't square with the statements and commitments he makes in other communities.  Like or dislike my positions, I have always been upfront, honest, and straightforward.

Over at Deseret News, Eric Schulzke adds:

And DeMaio is not an orthodox conservative on fiscal issues either. If anything, he is a libertarian, having worked as a policy analyst for the libertarian Reason Public Policy Institute in the early 2000s. […]

[H]ow [David Brooks and William Bradley] oversimplified the picture this situation so dramatically is a puzzle. Were they cleverly played by Fletcher allies? Do they actually think that a gay Republican with libertarian leanings represents a lurch to the right, an enforcement of conformity, and a return to orthodoxy?

This is what happens when political narrative overrides journalistic impulse. Imagine how different this story might have been spun if the dominant opinion-journalism narrative going around was about how the Republican Party was at long last ditching gay panic in favor of robust fiscal reform. Brooks and the rest of 'em ought to be ashamed of themselves, but they won't be. 

Here Carl DeMaio's author page at A search at shows a politician sensibly concerned about the immediate crises (especially in San Diego) of pension reform and public-sector featherbedding, rather than the far-off fever dreams of assigning energy-source percentages in the year 2020. And you can watch interviewing DeMaio two years ago:

NEXT: Another Obama Administration Attempt at Solar Power Central Planning Goes Bust

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  1. Playing to prejudices against gays is okay when it is done by responsible people like David Brooks for the purpose of protecting the establishment.

    1. I bet the creases in DeMaio’s trousers are insufficiently sharp, too.

    2. But isn’t the establishment always anti-gay in the name of perpetual revolution?

  2. Well, he cannot really be “gay”, because Identity Politics Ueber Alles.

    1. Apparently that is Madow’s view.

      Over at Rachel Maddow’s blog that same day, Kent Jones said this:

      Come on out, moderate, goal-oriented Republicans. We know you’re out there.

      And keep the unclean gay guy from getting elected.

      1. He’s not “gay enough” IOW?

        1. He’s not the right kind, i.e., a Democrat. Alternately, Fletcher is more status quo friendly, which is really all that matters. The Team Blue/Team Red back and forth is a smoke screen.

        2. He’s a traitor to his race gender lifestyle!

      2. Over at Rachel Maddow’s blog that same day, Kent Jones said this:

        Come on out, moderate, goal-oriented Republicans. We know you’re out there.

        Having anyone in any way affiliated with MSNBC in general (or Rachel Maddow, in particular) attempting to pass judgement on who, specifically makes the cut as a “moderate” Republican, and who does not, is roughly akin to hiring Justin Bieber as designated “enforcer” for the Detroit Redwings.

  3. Reason was so much better when Postrel was the editor before registration.

    1. Not really.

    2. This would never stand when Balko was here.

    3. Registration! New! Fewer Trolls! (Hopefully!)

    4. Looks good so far…

      I think it would’ve been better to just move the entire HnR blog to a subreddit on The comments system is better(moderation!), and there are lots of young, liberal dipshits to keep things interesting.

      I’m still toying with the idea of shadowing HnR posts on reddit. I’ll probably get sued, but it’ll be fun while it lasts.

      Also, kittens.

  4. I think that when presented with the word “libertarian”, your standard-issue legacy media drone immediately shuts down all thought processes, and fills in any remaining blanks with “racist”, “bigoted”, and “ultra-conservative”.

    1. They process all versions of “libertarian” as Republican.

      1. Especially yours, neocon JohnSukiBot.

        1. If John Tagliaferro fantasy-posts as a Japanese girl, and no one cares, did it really happen?

          1. Unfortunately, it happens every. Fucking. Day.

            1. I am still not into you or your prison daddy.

              1. Fuck, you’re stupid, JohnSukiBot.

                1. Are you talking to something stupid, Epi? All I see is a blank line.


              2. As I asked long ago, doesn’t anyone else think its weird that John T posts as his own character from a femdom Amazon ertoica series?

                Seriously, that’s kind of weird, right?

      2. “They process all versions of “libertarian” as Republican.”

        This is very true. I’ve come across at least one example of someone out and out stating that “all libertarians are just conservatives who don’t like the name.”

    2. your standard-issue legacy media drone


  5. Anyone else find this post particularly confusing?

    BTW – is registration the fault of these WI/Mary idiots? Or was the problem people kept responding to them? I tend to think the latter.

    1. Never mind when she was ignored she repeatedly posted reams of quoted text.

      1. I’m not taking her side by any stretch. I just thought it was odd that so many folks felt the need to reply to her posts, quoted or not.

        1. It was in order to have a semblance of a conversation. And how can you convince newcomers to the site that you can have a serious conversation when the whole thread is Primitivist nonsense and whinging about “little boys”?

          1. After the first dozen or so threads, it should have been perfectly clear White Idiot/whomever was here to troll. I can understand wanting conversation initially, but after like 2 months, anyone could/should have realized what was going on and simply ignored them. They didn’t bother me because I didn’t read any of the shit they wrote. What was annoying were the libertarians who insisted on arguing with them.

            You should never argue with an idiot….

            Your point about newcomers is understood. I just think that registration somehow makes the site “less libertarian.” I’m not going to stop coming here and I obviously complied.

            1. I just think that registration somehow makes the site “less libertarian.”

              I don’t see how. Is it unlibertarian to throw a party, and only allow guests with invitations in the door?

              1. Well, the site could have been conducted in a manner that anyone could come and go, but the trolls could have simply been ignored by the commentariat and would have all moved on (see also: Gregoo, Dondero, LoneWhacko). The imposition of a registration procedure just seems less libertarian to me.

                Maybe I’m just weird like that.

                1. But this troll was much much different and worse than Dondero or LoneWhacko. Those guys arguably were not even trolls. They were just annoying. They never intended to destroy the board and make any rational discussion impossible.

                2. In defense of the people who used to argue with her:

                  1) The only control input that most of us have on this board are the things we type in the comment box. It’s very hard to not try to assert some type of control when someone is destroying something one cares about.

                  2) Mary Stack is very adept at finding people’s emotional buttons and pushing them. Remember how she taunted LibertyMike when he related the story of his childhood horror at this dad’s humiliation when the dad had to go on food-stamps. Once she picked out a target she would needle and probe until she found the emotional buttons she sought and then she would mercilessly hammer her target.

                  It takes a strong-willed individual to not react. Or someone depraved like Warty.

                  1. I’ve been insulted by better pseudo-primitivist scumwhores than Mary Stack. You get better with experience, tarran.

                  2. She also was horrible to sloopy about him getting married. She is a pretty sick person.

                    And one other point, Dondero and Lonewacko where here before threaded comments. Threaded comments allow Stack to shit on every thread individually. The old long scroll made it much easier to ignore trolls.

                    Really, threaded comments are what made it possible.

                    1. No, unthreaded comments make it harder to ignore stuffing & trolling. Indentation (I wish it were deeper) made it easy to skip subthreads that were troll-and-forth, and when it came to stuffing with multiple copies of the same post, those appeared at the same indent’n level so they were also easy to ignore. I don’t see how one long straight scroll made it easy to ignore either, when you had to look at each post to see what it was in response to, if anything.

                  3. Pretty much this. I responded to him/her/it about once a week, or once every 3000 posts it made, which worked out about the same. There was always the hope that it might actually read a response and learn something. Also, I’m Back!

                3. If White Indian had stuck to a single name, she would have been ignored.

                  incif (or reasonable) takes care of that.

                  Im pretty sure the name changing (to the degree it was at the end) was solely in response to an incif comment I made.

                4. The imposition of a registration procedure just seems less libertarian to me.

                  There’s nothing unlibertarian about a property owner imposing whatever rules he wants on access to, or the use of, his property.

  6. And four days later, proving once again that the L.A. Times will make sure to get it wrong and get it last, Sacramento columnist George Skelton wrote more in that vein, in a column I cannot read because of the newspaper’s new reader-hating firewall

    Not sure what you’re doing over there, but I have no problem viewing that article. I wonder if there’s a limit on the number of articles you can view, and Reason editors are spending too much time trawling the L.A. Times?

    1. More to the point, that article does in deed refer to as an orthodox conservative, and then never mentions him again. I guess that’s all that needs be said.

  7. I applaud them for not letting facts get in the way of their reporting.

  8. If DeMaio is so openly gay, why would he run against a gay rights advocate like Nathan Fletcher? Seems fishy!

    1. Maybe because DeMaio thinks there are things other than a candidate’s hobbies that might be relevant?

      1. Could be. He is a knuckle dragging orthodox conservative, after all.

  9. I think that as a rule, if David Brooks and Rachel Maddow are saying the same thing, it clearly has no basis in fact.

    Of course, it’s also a given that if David Brooks or Rachel Maddow are saying somehing then it clearly has no basis in fact, so there you are.

    1. Only doubly so!

  10. Postrel calls Bradley on not giving any details about DeMaio on the huffpo blog. He responds by not citing DeMaio’s record.

    Virginia Postrel is a well-known libertarian ideologist.
    For more than a decade, she was the editor of Reason magazine.

    1. He’s probably so deep in the bubble that he doesn’t realize he just lost the argument, completely.

      1. Wow. He sure wasn’t going to answer her question.

      2. RC, that’s just what I’d expect a right winger like you to say.

    2. Impressive. No attempt to reply or even insult, just a big ‘ol “UNBELIEVER!!!!”

    3. “RACIST!”

  11. “The Republican Party has gone through a fantastically effective effort to enforce conformity around its principles.”

    My reaction to this was, “so they have principles to enforce? That’s a great start!”

    But as for DeMaio, he worked for the Koch-funded Reason Foundation, meaning he’s one the tentacles of the Kochtopus, just waiting to go on a Hentai-style raping frenzy against the Poor, the Minorities and the Environment.

  12. A lot of Brooks’ conservative defenders in the media will defend him by saying that he just hates the culture war and his desire to avoid it is why he often comes across so poorly.

    I think attacking an openly gay Republican puts lie to that.

  13. This is a test to see if and how the new regime works. That is all.

  14. If you hold David Brooks up to your ear, you can actually hear the ocean roar.

  15. A minor correction — Carl is not the first “openly gay” San Diego City Council critter. Indeed, we have had a DE FACTO gay San Diego city council seat! But, of course, it’s always been occupied by Democrats — though not ALWAYS by gays.

    Carl was elected in a more Republican district, and was open about his gay nature from the get-go (cutting the legs out from under his detractors — both left and right). I THINK it IS fair to say that he’s the first non-Democrat openly gay city council representative we’ve elected.

    Big whoop.

  16. Here’s a comment I made on the NEW YORK TIMES David Brooks’ ode to Nathan Fletcher — a slobbering piece by Brooks, praising San Diego mayoral candidate Fletcher to the skies for his opportunistic departure from the GOP.…..lemma.html

    I ran into a commonly reported problem — the NY TIMES website would not accept my comment. I tried several times, but it never appeared. But hundreds of left wing comments WERE posted by people who wrongly assumed Brooks had a clue about which he wrote. Unlike the WS JOURNAL (and this blog), the NY TIMES does screen comments — apparently for message as well as the usual reasons.

    Judge for yourself if my comment is somehow offensive — and offensive to whom.


    It’s sad that the NY TIMES chooses David Brooks as the voice of the “reasonable” GOP. But not surprising, I suppose.

    In this piece, Brooks writes about a San Diego political contest that he knows nothing about. But his factual ignorance doesn’t keep him from making grandiose judgments in the race.


  17. (continued)

    Brooks claims that Nathan Fletcher is all about pension reform. He is not. He was afraid to back the groundbreaking GOP pension reform measure (establishing 401k’s for most new hires and reducing existing pensions somewhat), waiting until a week before it was qualified for the ballot before putting forward a token effort in support. Carl DeMaio and the GOP did the heavy lifting.

    If you want to know Fletcher’s position on city pension reform, ask the local public employee labor unions. They like Fletcher, though most of the unions will support rabid Democrat Bob Filner. But the police officers’ union has already formally endorsed Fletcher.…..98723.html

    Then Brooks labels GOP competitor and front-runner Carl DeMaio an “orthodox conservative.” I guess that’s similar to being an Orthodox Jew, or Greek Orthodox — a stereotyped extreme social conservative.

    But DeMaio is gay, and openly considers himself in a “committed relationship” with Jonathon Hale. DeMaio’s views on social issues range from moderate to occasionally libertarian. It’s on fiscal issues that DeMaio is “conservative” and concentrates — he’s a bulldog representing the taxpayers.

    “Orthodox conservative”? In what parallel universe?

    Apparently the only source Brooks used in this ode to Nathan Fletcher was — Nathan Fletcher. This is blatant propaganda — even by Brooks’ abysmally low standards.

  18. I might add that DeMaio was elected to the city council by a 2-1 margin in a moderate Republican district — apparently some sort of San Diego record for a contested race between newcomers (one a labor union-backed shill).

  19. Lots of great discussion about it at the premiere political blogsite in San Diego, where Fletcher is running for Mayor…

    Team Fletcher: “Just Win, Baby!”

    The GOP didn’t reject Fletcher, it embraced DeMaio

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