I have no idea what God had in mind when my parents created me, the blue collar son of a blue collar dad and a high school drop out, and set me down to live my early life in Altoona, Pa. Did he check a box that said “robustly straight” on some heavenly form someplace. Or what?
But that’s about how it has always been with me, “robustly straight” and, I might add, a little too interested in women for the era in which we now live. I can get away with it, I think, because I am older than almost any woman in my universe (except my wife!) and I have been surrounded, as a reporter and then a professor, by nothing but very engaging women all my professional life.
I liked even the ones other people handily disliked. What can I say about that? It doesn’t mean anything. “Liking” someone is not the same as pursuing them sexually. I have always tried to make that distinction in my life. The most I can say is that if I ever pursued a woman, she knew she was being pursued. I am not subtle.
But I am also not interested in the sexual identity of anyone. I have never judged people for the way they are, assuming it was God’s idea to make character X into a gaping, loud and obnoxious asshole. Man or woman, didn’t matter. An asshole is an asshole is an asshole. The same goes for the very few saints I have known in my life. Whatever they were, their sainthood was not connected to their sex. It was just a part of them.
So I am delighted to consider a compelling member of the army of Democrats running for president on a simple, personal level. I don’t care if Mayor Pete Buttigieg is gay! I don’t care if he got along with or didn’t get along with Vice President Pence in Indiana. He seems to be a pretty widely experienced and intelligent person, and I can vote for that any day of the week.
My concern is how do we make his candidacy about issues, not about his gayness? I don’t even need to know about that, and I certainly hope he doesn’t try to turn it into an asset. That could create confusion and a big backfire on the Democrats.
Talk to me about education, politics, health care, military force, American behavior in the world, all of those things would be good. But drawing him out on gayness would not be. What does that have to do with us, straight and gay, and the presidency?
I know this is going to lead to lots of emails (well, actually not so many, I’m not a household word anymore) and some backwash and finger wagging. I don’t care. My only question about the presidential campaign this time around is: Can you beat Donald Trump?
Its the only measure that matters in this campaign. If Pete can do that, good for him.