R. Gregory Stevens, a gay man who was a Republican operative for most of his adult life, died of a drug overdose at the home of Carrie Fisher on February 26 of this year. A little more than two months later, The New York Times examines his life and death, in an article that appears not in the main news section, but in the Arts & Leisure section.
Do I need to tell you that if a lifelong gay Democratic operative with a long history of cocaine abuse died in the home of a Hollywood celebrity with her own history of substance abuse, that death would have been the subject of 128-point-type headlines on the Drudge Report, wall-to-wall coverage on talk radio and cable news, and endless think pieces in the "respectable" press about the Democrats' troubling embrace of the values of Hollywood rather than of the American mainstream?
Stevens' brother, Grant, told investigators that he began using cocaine at age 18, according to the Times story. That would have been in 1980. In the ensuing years, Stevens added the following to his resume:
* In 1984, he became intern to former transportation secretary Drew Lewis in Ronald Reagan's reelection campaign.
* In 1988, he was employed in the Bush-Quayle campaign.
* In 1989, he became the White House liaison to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
* In 1990, he worked in the campaign of California's GOP governor, Pete Wilson.
* In 1992, he went to work for Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, a Republican lobbying shop.
* A few years later, he went to work at the lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers, which was run by former Republican National Committee chairman (and current Mississippi governor) Haley Barbour.
* In 2000, he helped run the entertainment committe for the Bush-Cheney inaugural.
His drug use was no secret:
Charlie Black, lead partner at Black, Manafort, said many at the firm speculated that Mr. Stevens was using drugs, but that "the guy showed up for work and did his job."
"We all knew he had a substance abuse problem," said a former colleague, who insisted on anonymity to avoid alienating Mr. Stevens's survivors. "Some days he was ricocheting off the walls. There'd be these telltale signs - crossing and uncrossing his legs, his eyes darting around the room. We had no illusions. But he was in denial...."
You know, you can't get a job stacking pallets at a Lowe's hardware store, say, without taking a drug test. That's largely because of grandstanding on the subject of drugs by politicians for whom Stevens worked. Yet Stevens found job after job.
And despite the rampant hatred of gay people among Republican voters and politicians, Stevens didn't suffer. (And no, he wasn't in the closet -- the anonymous former colleague who used to notice his "ricocheting off the walls" added, "...He was very open about his gayness but not about his substance abuse.")
Imagine if, over the past twenty years or so, a gay coke fiend had worked in campaigns for Clinton, Cuomo, Gore, and Kerry; imagine if he'd been employed by Carville and Begala. Imagine if his drug abuse was obvious to everyone, but then John Kerry beat Bush and the coke fiend was hired to run the entertainment -- and then died of an overdose a month later.
Do you think we'd ever hear the end of it?