- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sticking by her

The lewd, gay blogger Perez Hilton is doing his best to take the shine off Miss California’s appeal in Republican Party circles, but it isn’t working yet.

Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr., who goes by the name “Perez Hilton” on the Internet, obtained and posted a racy photo of a topless Carrie Prejean on his Web site, saying it would be grounds for her to lose her state crown.

“There are other - much more naked - photos of Prejean said to be hitting the Internets very soon, and pageant insiders exclusively tell us that the Miss California and Miss USA organizers are currently debating whether or not to dethrone Carrie,” the blogger taunted.

Roger Neal, a spokesman for Miss California USA pageant directors, later confirmed that officials were investigating contract violations, including whether Miss Prejean violated her contract by agreeing to become a spokeswoman for the pro-marriage National Organization for Marriage.

The whole dust-up started when Mr. Lavandeira asked Miss Prejean about gay marriage in the question-and-answer portion of the Miss USA contest. She said she believed marriage was between a man and a woman - to his dissatisfaction. The blogger cussed up an unprintable storm against Miss Prejean on his site and said the answer killed the title hopes of Miss Prejean, who finished first runner-up.

Miss Prejean issued a statement through the National Organization for Marriage, saying the photos did not prove any compromise of her Christian values.

“I am a Christian, and I am a model,” she said. “Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos. Recently, photos taken of me as a teenager have been released surreptitiously to a tabloid Web site that openly mocks me for my Christian faith.”

The National Federation of Republican Women defended Miss Prejean from personal attacks without knowledge of the photos but said it wouldn’t affect their support for her.

“We are defending her [right to her] opinion, whether or not there are pictures that others have deemed questionable,” said Martha Jenkins, a public relations committee member of the National Federation of Republican Women.

“As Republican women, we agree she has the right to have her opinion without being vilified for it,” she added.

Identity politics

President Obama may want to heed some advice from conservatives when it comes to identity politics and Supreme Court nominations.

Republicans cringed when President George W. Bush, partly because of outside pressure to appoint a woman, nominated Harriet E. Miers and ended up spiking her nomination over her lack of qualifications. The party similarly regards President Reagan’s campaign promise to nominate a woman to the court that led to the appointment of liberal Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a black mark on his presidency.

This time around, President Obama is being lobbied heavily by outside special interests to nominate a woman, a Hispanic or openly gay person, or some combined representative of those groups, to the court.

Curt Levey, executive director of the conservative-leaning Committee for Justice, recalled the Miers and O’Connor nominations and said, “So few people have what it takes to be an ideal Supreme Court nominee and justice that beginning the selection process by eliminating most of the potential nominees - based on race, gender or the like - can easily prove to be disastrous. The risk will be even greater if Obama decides that he has to choose a two-for-one, such as a Hispanic woman.

“Already, liberals are questioning the intellectual firepower of Sonia Sotomayor, the Hispanic woman who heads the list of potential nominees. If the allegations are true, it’s a sign that Sotomayor’s presence at the top of the list is due more to identity group membership than to merit. If they are untrue, it’s a demonstration of the unfortunate questions that inevitably plague anyone who gets their job through a hiring quota,” he said.

Climate coalition

Christian Democrats are busily recruiting faith-minded voters to support legislation to stop global warming.

The liberal-leaning American Values Network is launching a massive ad campaign on Christian radio and an e-mail campaign to target voters in Southern states that’s getting a healthy boost from the popular Blue Dog Democrat Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina.

“God created our Earth and laid it upon us to be good stewards of it for the next generation, and we should leave it better than we found it,” Mr. Shuler said in a conference call announcing the campaign. “We should really put an emphasis on how we can stop an increase of pollution to our water, our air, carbon emissions and help curb the arc that continues to go up in the form of climate change and the increase in temperatures that can have a devastating impact.”

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@washingtontimes.com.

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