Republican Congressman Steven Gunderson of Wisconsin, who hosted the homosexual “circuit” party called the Cherry Jubilee at a federal building in Washington last April 13, was upset by our article about the event written by Marc Morano (“Sex, Drugs, and a Republican Party,” July 1996). When Congressman Robert Dornan (R-CA) read the Chronicles article into the Congressional Record, and the subject became the topic of national talk radio, Gunderson exercised the seldom used “point of personal privilege” to seize the House floor and denounce Mr. Morano and his article. Gunderson called Morano a bigot who had distorted the facts in an effort to smear the “gay community,” and he blasted Dornan for sanctioning such bigotry.

Morano videotaped much of what went on at the party, and though the lighting was poor in the areas he was filming, several witnesses—including a gay reporter for the City Paper—have confirmed his account. Nevertheless, Gunderson charged that Morano’s report was riddled with lies. In return, Morano issued a point-by-point rebuttal.

For example, Gunderson charged that Morano gave false information about himself in order to attend the party, that he did not purchase a ticket, and that he attended it without any press credentials. But Morano did try to obtain a press pass, only to be told that none were being issued. In order to attend, he was forced to buy a ticket outside the entrance to the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium and another one inside.

Gunderson insists that “security reported no fights, no harassment, no drugs, no smoking, nor any sexual activity.” Several guests at the party, however, have boasted about the illicit activity they engaged in. Morano points to John Cloud, a homosexual reporter for the City Paper, who admitted to seeing “a fair number of people using drugs,” and to a columnist for the Metro Weekly who bragged that “We spent much of our time out on the dance floor trying to cop a feel, or back in the sponsor’s lounge trying to cop a feel, or outside in the designated smoking area trying to cop a feel and a smoke.” Morano’s video recorder did not pick up all of this activity because security personnel forced him to remove it from the premises.

Gunderson also maintains that the outer stairwell of the Mellon Auditorium was closed for “construction,” not for sexual rendezvous. This may be true, but as Morano points out, this area served another purpose at the GOP event. It was “screw alley,” as one guest indelicately put it.

Bob Dole, in what we were assured was an “emotional moment,” read these words (reportedly written by novelist Mark Helprin) when announcing his decision to leave the Senate: “I will seek the presidency with nothing to fall back on but the judgment of the people of the United States and nowhere to go but the White House or home.” Only a politician is incapable of writing his own letter of resignation when quitting a job.

By “home,” Helprin the ghost sought to conjure up golden wheatfields and dusty roads and the sun setting on Russell, Kansas, as Bob and Liddy sip lemonade on the front porch, serenaded b)’ crickets, serene in the bosom of home sweet home. But what “home” means to Dole, the future Archer Daniels Midland director, is a cab ride to the Watergate or an occasional hop down to the condo in Bal Harbor.

Of post-republic Presidents, only Democrats (Truman, LBJ, Carter) retired to their natal states. It’s easy to imagine ex-President Bill Clinton, footloose and Hillary-free, contentedly going through the “sweet sweet Connies from Little Rock,” but come what may m November, I do not think the boys at the Russell Rotary Club should plan on setting an extra plate for prodigal brother Bob.

For Senator Dole, Russell, Kansas, seems to have faded to just a picturesque backdrop for tearful speeches ghosted by virtual strangers. Once there was a way to get back home—but not anymore, not for Bob Dole.