Ken Mehlman was Chairman of the Republican National Committee and manager of President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign. I only dealt with him once or twice, but he seemed a cordial and capable guy. At the time, rumors that he was gay were widespread. Now he says that gradually, over a number of years, he has come to realize that he is indeed a homosexual.
Some commentators find significance in this. The New York Times sees evidence of a change in the conservative movement:
Had a former chairman of the Republican National Committee announced in 2004 that he was gay, it would have been a bombshell. … Six years later, in a midterm election cycle that is otherwise fierce, campaigns are largely silent on the issue of same-sex marriage … And when Ken Mehlman, who ran President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign in 2004 and then became the party’s chairman, said in an interview in The Atlantic this week that he is gay and is working to support a campaign for same-sex marriage, it was met with little controversy.
Even the commentary accusing him of hypocrisy seemed outweighed by people who wished him well, or merely shrugged.
The muted reaction reflects not only changing values in the country generally, but also, more notably, among many Republicans and conservatives.
That is, I think, untrue. We didn’t care about Mehlman’s personal life then, and we don’t care now. I believe our attitude is characteristic of the vast majority of conservatives. We wish Mehlman well. But whether Ken Mehlman is or is not gay has no bearing on the public policy question of whether gay marriage is a good idea or a bad idea. No one outside Mehlman’s immediate family will change his or her opinion on the policy issue, based on Mehlman’s perhaps overdue revelation.
What we see here is a reflection of an obsession of the left, not the right.