For a few days there, Mike Gravel’s race to become the Democratic presidential nominee was in mortal danger. You see, Gravel wasn’t invited to the upcoming gay-issue presidential debate hosted by the Human Rights Campaign, and he was hopping mad. HRC argued that the debate, initially, was only one hour long, and they wanted to limit it to serious candidates – as Gravel hadn’t raised much money, he didn’t make the cut. A number of gay bloggers jumped in to the fray in Gravel’s defense, and the HRC relented (it didn’t hurt that the debate is now 1.5 hours, giving more time for the major candidates to be pressed on their gay views).
What do I think of all this? I honestly don’t care. Gravel is a nut. A very pro-gay nut, and that’s nice. But he’s still a nut. And so are Kucinich and Ron Paul. Their presence at the debates is entertaining, but they’re not going to be the presidential candidates or the vice presidential candidates and, while I know it’s a tradition in our country to always have a few goofballs thrown into presidential debate the mix, I tire of wasting what are already pretty lame debates on candidates who simply don’t matter.
As for the fairness of excluding someone as pro-gay as Gravel, can’t we come up with anyone better than Gravel to present to America as the Democratic party’s standard bearer on gay rights? While some argue that Gravel could pull the other candidates the right way (the left way) on gay issues, I worry that he shows Democratic candidates and the country the kooky face of gay politics. The man simply comes off as a bit goofy – why would any Democratic candidate want to align themselves with his remarks in front of millions of Americans? If anything, he gives the Dems covers NOT to embrace the gay cause – i.e., see, I’m not as goofy as HIM. I think he hurts our presidential cause more than helps it.
Yes, pushing HRC to include Gravel in the debate was a victory for the gay blogosphere. Not our first or our largest victory by any means (beating Ford and Microsoft and Snickers, campaigns that involved Andy Towle, Pam Spaulding, this blog and more come to mind). And not exactly a victory that I endorsed. But it was a victory nonetheless, and that’s important for the growths of the blogs.