On Thursday night’s Anderson Cooper 360, CNN used most of a half-hour replaying large chunks of Larry King’s interview with Ted Haggard, the evangelical preacher who lost his ministry after he used a male prostitute. He’s the subject of a new HBO documentary by Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of liberal House speaker Nancy Pelosi. This is no mystery, just synergy: CNN and HBO are both Time Warner properties. But Cooper brought on TV psychologist Paul Dobransky and felt Haggard’s pain: "It also seems sad because his belief system, I mean there are plenty of gay Christians who are happily gay and happily Christian and have fulfilling lives. They're not mutually exclusive."
Cooper also mocked reparative therapy (to convert people from gay to straight) as a failure in every case: "every one of them basically admits that they still are attracted to a member of the same sex, they're just forcing themselves to repress those feelings....That can't be a healthy thing." Dobransky claimed homosexuality cannot be chosen, and then used pet metaphors: "Imagine a metaphor of what you were a cat born in a dog kennel. It might feel dangerous, it might feel threatening, and you might pretend you're not a cat, but you're still a cat."
No one who disagreed with this exposition of the gay ideological talking-points manual was included, and the use of the TV therapist to diagnose Haggard from afar raises the political question: If liberals thought it was absurd for physician Sen. Bill Frist to diagnose Terri Schiavo from the Senate floor, how do therapists get to diagnose Ted Haggard from a CNN studio? Apparently, psychologists never have to say they're sorry:
COOPER: He said one therapist called him heterosexual with homosexual attachments and then another one said he's heterosexual with complications.
DOBRANSKY: Yes, I think the bottom line is the conflict that this guy is in is that he has a belief system that he needs to maintain for his constituents, his fans, and certainly for his own spiritual beliefs. He needs to keep that part up. But when we talk about gender identity and sexual identity and sexual orientation, we're talking about something that's biological, not something that you choose. There's plenty of research about that.
COOPER: It also seems sad because his belief system, I mean there are plenty of gay Christians --
COOPER: -- who are happily gay and happily Christian and have fulfilling lives. They're not mutually exclusive?
DOBRANSKY: Absolutely, absolutely. We are, in this country, entitled to our opinions, we're entitled to voice them. And at the same time, we all have an animal nature inside. We have an unconscious; we have a sexual identity inside. And it's OK to have both.
COOPER: Every -- we have had a number of people on the show who say they have been cured of homosexuality, that they went through, whatever, reversion therapy or -- but every one of them basically admits that they still are attracted to a member of the same sex, they're just forcing themselves to repress those feelings.
COOPER: That can't be a healthy thing.
DOBRANSKY: Yes. I mean, if you would imagine, maybe a Buddhist monk on a mountain being an ascetic and depriving themselves of earthly pleasures, or imagine a metaphor of what you were a cat born in a dog kennel. It might feel dangerous, it might feel threatening, and you might pretend you're not a cat, but you're still a cat. You might pretend you're a dog. It's that kind of forcing one's self to portray an identity that's different than what you are.
By the way, Dr. Dobransky's "personal statement" on his Web site for women's happiness declares his taste for Jon Stewart and the Almighty Obama:
I’m an "everyman" kind of guy – a young Tom Hanks, Greg Kinnear, Dr Drew amalgam – with a taste for Jon Stewart’s humor and Barack Obama’s visionary, tolerant, inclusive message appealing to both genders and all generations. I’m confident but not arrogant and most comfortable as a team-player, not a prima donna. (I am reluctant to directly compare myself to any of those luminaries, especially the new president.)
Cooper also claimed Haggard "preached against gays and lesbians" and "gained a reputation as a fierce opponent of gay rights" -- which doesn't mesh with what Alexandra Pelosi found, as she said to Entertaintment Weekly:
He didn’t give really anti-gay sermons. I’m telling you this because I made a movie about evangelical Christians, and I had to sit through the sermons. The most anti-gay things that I found [Haggard said] were basically jokes. He makes jokes about gays. But he’s not Pat Robertson saying, 'The gays caused 9/11.'"