Colorado Republican candidate for US Senate Ken Buck had a bad day yesterday on Meet the Press. "Shaky" is the kindest characterization, starting with Buck's repeated erroneous statements that we pay for tax cuts and get other benefits by "grow(ing) government". He meant to say "growing the economy", but his repeated misstatement left the door open for his Democrat opponent Michael Bennet, the consummate Senator from Obama, to say "Well I'm definitely not interested in growing government." It was a "Through the Looking-Glass" moment, to be sure.
A couple of minutes later, Buck made perhaps his biggest verbal gaffe of the campaign, comparing being gay to being alcoholic.
To be fair, what Buck actually said, as you can see and hear in the video clip below, is that both homosexuality and alcoholism may have genetic factors contributing to that trait in a person. (My non-expert view is that there is very likely genetic factors regarding predisposition to those and other traits. Indeed, how could there not be?)
But the Democrat TV ads won't address that subtlety. And, as much as I want Ken Buck to beat Michael Bennet, Buck deserves what he gets from his idiotic statement.
Buck's statement is boneheaded both in its substance and its politics.
Let's start with the substance.
Buck says that homosexuality is primarily a choice because "you can choose who your partner is". Yes, that's true in a theoretical sense. In real life, I, as a heterosexual male, "could" but never would choose to fool around with another guy. Indeed, I can't imagine such a choice for myself, even for 30 seconds, even after a few glasses of Lagavulin.
I imagine that most homosexuals feel conversely, namely that while a choice of an other-sex partner is theoretically available, it is not one that he or she would ever actually make.
I've always been rather annoyed by people who argue that homosexuality is, first and foremost, a choice. Or, to put it another way, that sexual preference is almost entirely about nurture rather than nature.
It's simply non-sensical to believe, especially in decades past, that someone would choose to participate in a lifestyle which has been so unaccepted by society, a lifestyle which has kept people "in the closet", forcing them to keep secrets from friends and family, etc. Who would choose that?
I'm certain that there are some people who are homosexual by choice, meaning they're bisexual and could more-or-less comfortably choose a person of either gender as a sexual partner. But I would bet that those people are a minority -- likely a very small minority -- of the gay population.
Most gays aren't gay by choice. They're gay because they're gay, just as I'm straight because I'm straight.
So, on the substance of his statement, Ken Buck was spouting nonsense.
But it's not just the substance of his remark which was so bone-headed. It was also the politics.
I understand that gays are a small single-digit percentage of the population and that, while statistics are very hard to find, the majority of them, perhaps an overwhelming majority, tend to vote Democrat -- not least because the GOP can be portrayed or perceived as being filled with people who think like Ken Buck.
But in a election which gets closer every week, an election which Rasmussen now has as only a 2% edge for Buck, alienating gay Republicans and, more importantly, gay unaffiliated voters, while motivating gay Democrats against him is a substantial political mistake by Buck.
Beyond that, it plays precisely into the theme Michael "Who?" Bennet is using to define Buck: "too extreme for Colorado." If Buck keeps saying stuff like he said on Sunday, even I might start wondering if it's true.
Some might argue that Buck was just surprised by the question. Indeed, Buck has said he was. But that's no excuse for someone trying to get into the big leagues of politics. Either you're ready for prime time or you're not, and now Buck has me wondering.
I still very much want Ken Buck to beat Michael Bennet, the latter being a spineless amoeba of a politician who asks Chuck Schumer how he should vote whenever the answer isn't obvious -- or even when it is obvious.
But I can't help remembering the heated online discussions I had with the Buck faithful when I supported Jane Norton, my argument being essentially that "these two are almost identical on policy, but Norton will be much harder for the Democrats to demonize in the general election than Buck will be and therefore, I'll back the person I think more likely to win the general election." Those words still ring true, even prescient, to me.
Really, Ken, even if you believe something as silly as that being gay is a choice, did you have to say it? As the old saying goes, it's "better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."
Ken Buck needs to stop putting his foot in his mouth and stop saying ridiculous things which turn him into a caricature of the narrow-minded bible-bound old white guy which Democrats use with great success against the GOP. Sadly, when Republicans say things like Ken Buck said on Meet the Press, it's hard to argue that that caricature is far off the mark.
My advice to Ken Buck: Stop talking about social issues -- even when asked. On other issues, stop triangulating, stop backing away from positions just because you get a little Dem pushback on something. Stop saying "that's out of context" even if it is. Remember, if you're explaining, you're losing. And you're spending all your time explaining, and far too much of that is explaining your own errors and changes. If you believe something, then stand up for it. If you don't believe something, then don't say (or hint) that you do. It's pretty simple, and it's time for you to stop screwing it up and show that you actually stand for something and that you'll actually still stand for it next week.
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