So much for the so what? defense.
"I've known her for most of her adult life and I know she's straight," said Sarah Walzer, Kagan's roommate in law school and a close friend since then. "She dated men when we were in law school, we talked about men -- who in our class was cute, who she would like to date, all of those things. She definitely dated when she was in D.C. after law school, when she was in Chicago - and she just didn't find the right person." -- Elena Kagan's friends: She's not gay
From the White House going berserk over the CBS blog post that charged Elena Kagan was gay, to progressives who said he thought so too, to the latest Friends Defense, this entire spectacle has embarrassed just about everyone.
The hardest hit is Andrew Sullivan, with Politico asking: Did Andrew Sullivan act irresponsibly in pushing the is-Kagan-gay? story line so forcefully? Sullivan always goes for speculation based on what he doesn't know instead of what can be proven with facts, so I'm not quite sure why there is a question here. That Sullivan has a track record of disrespecting strong women, whether it's Hillary, Sarah or Elena, is what actually should be the tell whenever he's on the warpath. It's part of the fact free fantasy world Sullivan inhabits that's at issue.
Cue the I Know Elena Kagan And the Elena Kagan I Know Likes Men faze of Supreme Court vetting, which the White House is clearly pushing, with Kagan proponents on all sides, gay and straight, bending over backwards to prove her feminine credentials, along with her straight man lust.
As a side show to this is softballgate and the photo pictured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
"It clearly is an allusion to her being gay. It's just too easy a punch line," said Cathy Renna, a former spokesperson for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation who is now a consultant. "The question from a journalistic perspective is whether it's a descriptive representation of who she might be as a judge. Have you ever seen a picture of Clarence Thomas bowling?" -- Softball Question, by Ben Smith
"A punch line?" Talk about touchy. Clarence Thomas bowling?
And it makes no difference that Patrick J. Buchanan sees a correlation between softball and lesbians. Are we never going to drag our country into the modern era, the 21st century, and simply laugh at people who remain in the 19th?
All of this misses the most important conversation, an opportunity missed, that the White House and all libertarian minded people should champion: You think Elena Kagan is gay? We have no idea. But so what if she is?
That's exactly where gay rights groups should be, but instead these small minded people are talking about her possibly looking butch on the Wall Street Journal, though they won't say that outright, and getting defensive over sporting comparisons with lesbians that are no less stereotypical than when Mike Barnicle squealed that Hillary Clinton reminded all men of their ex-wives.
I'm embarrassed for everyone, especially the White House. They're obviously so uncomfortable with gays that they trotted out people who know her to out her as a heterosexual.
However, considering this country still thinks to be gay is to practice immoral behavior I certainly don't expect Pres. Obama to show courage and mount the so what? defense. Because if there is one thing Mr. Obama isn't doing it's advancing social issues and the rights of women or gays (see health care and DADT). Can't get caught being progressive, especially in an election year.
Perhaps we should be talking about this instead:
A 1998 memo shows that Kagan was among advisers encouraging Clinton to deny Medicare funding for abortions in cases of rape or incest -- in part to avoid a messy battle with Republicans.
But no, instead it's her heterosexual prowess amidst a softball batting pose.
[...] But Journal officials ridiculed a question about the image, which also appeared among other photographs in the Times's coverage of Kagan. "If you turn the photo upside down, reverse the pixilation and simultaneously listen to Abbey Road backwards, while reading Roland Barthes, you will indeed find a very subtle hidden message," said Journal spokeswoman Ashley Huston. "I think your question is absurd," said Journal Deputy Managing Editor Alan Murray in a separate email. -- Softball Question, by Ben Smith
What a sorry spectacle this is.
Taylor Marsh is a political analyst out of Washington, D.C.