And How The Gays Can Set Things Straight

Howard Dean’s Convenient Amnesia

Howard Dean’s memory continues to fail him. The Democratic National Committee Chairman claims his organization fired Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council director Donald Hitchcock for “poor job performance,” not as retaliation for his boyfriend, Paul Yandura’s open letter criticizing the party’s lackluster gay politics.

Taking a look at Dean’s sworn deposition, however, one has to wonder whether his shady recollection says more his parsed replies. And gay Democrats should be wondering how they can stand up and save their party.

We’ll start with Chairman Dean’s sworn testimony, during which time he claims never to have read Yandura’s letter, which lambasted the party for not doing more to combat anti-gay ballot initiatives.

Q: Now, if you recall, do you recall coming to learn at some point that Paul Yandura had written a letter that was critical of the DNC?

HD: No.

Q: You never came to learn that?

HD: Are you talking about the famous e-mail —

Q: Yes.

HD: — or whatever it was? No.

It would be great to believe Dean, but his contemptuous response contradicts an early testimony given by Tom McMahon, in which the DNC executive director says he gave Dean the “heads up” in late April of 2006, directly after the Washington Blade published Yandura’s letter. Testified McMahon: “The briefing was in conjunction with a press interview he would be doing or press he would encounter at the meeting.”

Hitchcock’s lawyer, Lynne Bernabei, offers McMahon’s testimony to jog Dean’s memory, but Dean maintains that he only heard talking points from the letter, never physically saw it and certainly didn’t know Yandura penned it. When pressed on the matter, Dean attempts to explain his ignorance by pinning it on McMahon: “He doesn’t bring me up-to-date on all this kind of stuff.”

We personally find it hard to swallow that a press briefing wouldn’t address the source of such a letter, especially when the author’s partner works for the criticized organization. Yet, that’s the story Dean tells, insisting that if McMahon told him Yandura wrote it, he totally forgot about it and didn’t become aware of Yandura’s involvement until months after the DNC fired Hitchcock. It seems to us that a piece of press as explosive as Yandura’s letter would have received a little more attention than just a “heads up.” Even if McMahon had only mentioned it briefly, does Dean have such a disregard for gay constituents that he wouldn’t explore the matter further? No disrespect, Mr. Dean, but weren’t you curious enough to inquire or did you simply not care?