The GOP's awkward courting of Caitlyn Jenner

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, after asserting his support for “traditional marriage” (support does not equal participation!), said, “If Caitlyn Jenner wants to be a Republican, she is welcome in my party.”

George Pataki, perhaps struggling to stand out in the field was even more bold, calling out Mike Huckabee’s hamfisted frat-boy leering specifically. He Tweeted a link to CNN’s story about Huckabee’s joke with the note, “If someone chooses a path that’s different than mine, we should respect it as opposed to mocking… we should give people their dignity and let them make their own decisions.”

The primary mode of response among conservative activists and commenters to Jenner has been insolent passive-aggression. The complaint that they’ve been bullied into at least feigning compassion transcends mere irony into a form of self-delusion so strong that it really should make them sympathetic to the idea of someone born “in the wrong body.”

Their most visible form of objection attacks Jenner from the flank. They question not her right to exist, but rather the idea that to be an “out” transperson requires a level of bravery worth honoring. Hence the backlash against Jenner’s upcoming ESPY award, touting non-existent “runners-up” and the viral photo campaign by a guy on Facebook who compared Jenner’s dignity and grace unfavorably against that of soldiers.

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