Pretty crappy, and offensive, answers from both Hillary and Obama yesterday when asked whether they think that homosexuality is immoral (the question was prompted, of course, by the General Pace controversy, in which the nation’s top uniformed military leader said he thinks homosexuality is immoral).
Rather than giving the clear cut answer that Senator John Warner (R-VA) gave, “I respectfully, but strongly, disagree with the chairman’s view that homosexuality is immoral,” or that John Edwards gave, “I don’t share that view,” Hillary and Obama squirmed.
Hillary: “Well, I’m going to leave that to others to conclude.”
Obama: Newsday caught Obama as he was leaving the firefighters convention and asked him three times if he thought homosexuality is immoral.
Answer 1: “I think traditionally the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman has restricted his public comments to military matters. That’s probably a good tradition to follow.”
Answer 2: “I think the question here is whether somebody is willing to sacrifice for their country, should they be able to if they’re doing all the things that should be done.”
Answer 3: Signed autograph, posed for snapshot, jumped athletically into town car.
What? Hey Senator Obama, do you think Jews are immoral? Jesus Christ.
To Hillary’s credit, her campaign did some damage control last night:
Clinton’s spokesman, Philippe Reins, said the New York senator “obviously” disagrees with Pace and that everyone, including the general, “has the right to be wrong, but should not inject their personal beliefs into public policy.”
Then Wednesday night, the campaign released a statement from the senator herself, saying, “I disagree with what he said and do not share his view, plain and simple.”
Nice, but. Hillary’s final statement, while avoiding the g-word (g-a-y), would have been acceptable as a FIRST statement on this issue. But as a final statement after all this brouhaha, she needs to say clearly, just like John Warner did, that she doesn’t think homosexuality is immoral – she needs to say it, not cryptically disagree.
And Obama’s spokesman later said the Senator disagrees with Pace as well.
(The only reason I’ll give Edwards a pass for issuing the same non-g-word statement as Hillary is that his statement was the first thing he said, not the 4th – he never equivocated. Having said that, it would have been nice to see a fuller g-word-embracing statement from Edwards as well. Pace’s comment was outrageous, it was offensive, it was demeaning, it was dehumanizing, and it was bigoted – it wasn’t simply something you “disagree with” like tax policy or something.)
And let me just say, what the hell is up with Obama? This is the first major flub I’ve seen from Obama in this campaign, and it’s a doozy. Some of the shine just got knocked off that golden boy.
As for Hillary, this is not good. Many in the gay community love her, while many fear that while she generally talks a good talk, she won’t be there for us when we need her. This kind of vacillation and avoidance only feeds those fears. And it’s not the first time. Recently, she spoke at the board meeting of the largest gay civil rights group, the Human Rights Campaign (all the pro-gay presidential candidates were invited, including Giuliani, but to her credit only Hillary accepted (where were Obama and Edwards – and Giuliani, for that matter?)). While HRC (the organization) proudly posted Hillary’s speech on YouTube and as the top story on their Web site home page, the other HRC (Hillary Rodham Clinton) didn’t tout her appearance at all, unlike her appearance the next week at the pro-choice women’s group EMILY’s List, which was feted by her campaign to all the media. When asked, twice, why her campaign appeared to be hiding her gay appearance, Hillary responded:
“You’ll have to ask my campaign.”
Again, the arm’s-length non-denial.
I want to like her. I really do. And I’ve heard the same sentiment from lots of my friends and colleagues. We love her husband, we adore her daughter, and we really want to like the good Senator. But damn she doesn’t make it easy.