As I reported last night, there were literally just a couple people who booed at soldier Stephen Hill, according to Sarah Rumpf, who was on hand and responded to the controversy on Twitter. And Sarah expanded on her tweet with a full blog report, "The Truth About the Booing at the Debate," where she indicates:
The debate included video questions that were submitted on YouTube, and one came from a soldier serving in Iraq who is gay and asked about the candidates' opinions on don't ask don't tell. There was audible booing after his question...however, please note that it was not the crowd booing. It was only one or two people.So, not only was it just "one or two people," their boos were immediately repudiated by those sitting nearby.
I was at the debate, in the audience on the right hand side about halfway back (here's my tweet of the video screen that was right in front of us). The person who booed was just a few rows in front of us. The booing got an immediate and angry reaction from nearly everyone sitting around him, who hissed and shushed at him. Lots of loud gasps, "Shhhh!" "No!" "Shut up, you idiot!" etc.
Now, this episode is getting a lot of attention online, and as is usual with progressive extremists, the commentary is both dishonest and hysterical. Excitable Andrew Sullivan is particularly over the top, at "The Anger Builds." Sullivan's post is ugly on a number of counts. He attempts to slur the GOP as "a religion." He attacks Rick Santorum's comments as a "despicable lie." And he claims that "Republicans don't actually deep down care for the troops, if that means gay troops. Their constant posturing military patriotism has its limits." And on top of that:
The shocking silence on the stage - the fact that no one challenged this outrage - also tells me that this kind of slur is not regarded as a big deal. When it came to it, even Santorum couldn't sanction firing all those servicemembers who are now proudly out. But that's because he was forced to focus not on his own Thomist abstractions, but on an actual person. Throughout Republican debates, gays are discussed as if we are never in the audience, never actually part of the society, never fully part of families, never worthy of even a scintilla of respect. When you boo a servicemember solely because he's gay, you are saying he is beneath contempt, that nothing he does or has done can counterweigh the vileness of his sexual orientation.This is completely decontextualized and patently absurd. Not only do we have Sarah Rumpf's first hand report of the audience reaction to the (one or two) boos, but it turns out that Rick Santorum didn't even hear them. He's interviewed by Megyn Kelly at the clip. She correctly observes that there were just a couple of people who booed, and Santorum responds that he didn't hear booing, and "when you're in that kind of environment, you're sort of focusing on the question and formulating your answer..." And Santorum repeatedly notes that "this man is serving our country" and he thanks him for his service.So, contrary to Andrew Sullivan, it's simply not true that Republicans deem gay soldiers "never worthy of even a scintilla of respect." If Santorum is to be faulted, it's simply that he didn't acknowledge the soldier for his service. But that's a question of Santorum's personal decorum, and upon reflection, he clearly regrets how he came off and has corrected the record in his interview with Megyn Kelly. But what's key is the progressive left's willfully false attacks on Republicans. David Nir does the same thing at Daily Kos, "In face of boos for gay soldier, Republicans stay silent." And Greg Sargent attacks Republicans along these lines while fully cognizant that the outrage is bogus:
It would obviously be unfair to use this episode to tar all Republicans. Some, to their credit, have already registered their dismay about what happened. Even audience members reacted badly and told the hecklers to shut up. But it’s perfectly fair to see it as representative of the caliber of the candidates that stood on the stage last night.No, it would not be fair, for the reasons that Rick Santorum indicates. The debate environment is basically a high stakes performance. The boos might not have registered with the candidates. And they likely were trying to anticipate the line of questioning and the direction of the debate rather than the appropriate salute to a soldier who submitted a question via YouTube. That's not fair, perhaps, but it's a long way from indicating that the Republican Party is filled with hordes of anti-gay bigots whose "posturing military patriotism has its limits." The truth is, as I've pointed out many times, the gay progressive left is a hate-cult powered by intolerance of difference. What bigotry we learned out this episode came from those on the radical left. And the outrage is especially rich in Andrew Sullivan's case, considering he's probably the last person who should be lecturing others on "gay sexual misconduct."