There are three possibilities, it seems to me, behind the kerfuffle over Elena Kagan's emotional orientation. The first is that her orientation is heterosexual and she is merely a dedicated career person who never had time for a date. The second is that she is lesbian, and she remains in a glass closet, and the Obamaites, revealing their usual tone-deafness on gay issues, never asked and blundered into this. The third is that she is a highly cautious political lesbian who has drawn a line around her real life in order to prevent her orientation being used against her - especially by the Christianist right.
The reason I doubt the first is that the administration had a clear opportunity to say so yesterday and punted. The reason I doubt the second is that the president had a dry run on this a while back in the Domenech incident. He could not have been surprised by the press questions yesterday and he cannot be that politically dumb.
So what if the third option is correct and Obama is actually being extremely shrewd?
If he or Kagan had announced her sexual orientation from the get-go, it would allow the Christianist right to portray her nomination as a "homosexual-lesbian" take-over of the court, enabled by a radical commie/Muslim president. But by remaining silent and ambiguous on this, the Obama peeps can either depend on the whole thing going away - or wait for some kind of outing, and capitalize on the inevitable sympathy that would prompt among senators, and make her confirmation a shoo-in. It would be better for Obama to provoke such an outing from his "left". That would allow senators to rally around the closet their generation cherishes and defend a person from "charges" that invade her "privacy." Win-win, right?
The president can say, appealing to the middle, that he respects privacy and has reluctantly allowed Kagan to come out under despicable pressure from people like me. Then he dares the Christianist right to vote against her merely because she is a discreet lesbian. And so his jujitsu becomes a triumph for gay rights, and his nominee, who I suspect is far more left-liberal than anyone now believes, helps shape the court for a generation.
Where's that rope again?