When Vice President
Ironically, Pence is a straight man in both the sexual-orientation sense and the comedic sense, given his relationship with the president. But that's not important right now. Neither is the pre-2016 relationship between Pence and "Mayor Pete."
Things changed. Pence became the vice president, and Buttigieg decided in April to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. Suddenly there was bad blood where there used to be mad love. Buttigieg insinuated that Pence had a problem with Buttigieg's sexual orientation and marriage to another man.
"If me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade," Buttigieg said at an event for the
The controversy had a bit of a high school feel to it in that Pence initially objected (correctly) that Buttigieg was being unfair to him given that they had once gotten along swimmingly. But Pence played the victim card too.
"He said some things that are critical of my Christian faith and about me personally, and he knows better," Pence complained.
In a sense it was a win-win for both politicians, given their very different constituencies. Each got to play the martyr for his own side.
And there was a third winner: the media. Buttigieg's dunking on Pence was great fun for the mainstream press, which loves Buttigieg almost as much as it hates Pence. It was a neat and tidy morality tale pitting the forces of tolerance and equality against the forces of bigotry and oppression -- Buttigieg the gay scholar veteran vs. Pence the would-be ruler of the Republic of Gilead (the fictional dystopia in "The Handmaid's Tale").
This is all old news, of course. But it seems newly relevant given that Buttigieg has a new problem with Christians who object to his lifestyle. But it's a very different problem.
During Buttigieg's recent appearance on
"I guarantee," Reid had told the
Todd also noted that he'd talked to black congressmen who said Buttigieg's homosexuality could be a problem with segments of the
Buttigieg's answers were respectful, thoughtful and hopeful that he could work it out with black Democratic voters.
But the question remains: Why don't those voters get called bigots?
It's a rhetorical question, of course. We know why. Attacking Pence and the people he supposedly represents is good for fundraising and votes in Democratic primaries. Calling religious black voters bigots for having the same misgivings that some religious white voters have is political suicide.
The point here isn't really about homosexuality or gay marriage -- both settled issues legally and almost certainly politically. Nor do I really care about the hypocrisy of it all, as much as it may annoy me.
The way the media tends to handle culture-war controversies is deeply pernicious. As I write this, we're nearly a week into a debate about whether detention centers are "concentration camps." Wherever you come down on this semantic row, the fact is that the media would never have entertained this "debate" under
But if you want to know why millions of
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