They keep rolling in, you ornery Dishies. A reader writes:
Gosh you are pissing me off today! Toobin said they have been friends for 30 years, and he couldn't tell you what she is passionate about. If she is so private she doesn't share her own beliefs on many issues, I don't understand how anyone would expect her to share her sexual preference. She hasn't openly appeared with a partner, so whether she is straight, gay or just wants to be friends with a bunch of books is hardly my business.
The other thing I find disconcerting is everyone seems to assume because she is 50 and not married she must be gay? Couldn't she just be single? Maybe she hasn't ever met anyone she wants to marry, or someone who wasn't intimidated by her fierce intellect and ambition. Maybe she, and by extension, the White House are telling the truth, and have said all they are going to say.
I always know when someone has no idea how being gay can affect one's entire life-experience when they use the term "sexual preference." It's like a taste in rock rather than country. They would never use that context about a heterosexual. Another writes:
You are confusing me with your slightly accusatory tone, as if this is a huge conspiracy of silence. How is this the fault of the White House? They might be respecting her wishes. Or maybe she is celibate or even asexual.
When Robert Gibbs was asked a straightforward question about this question yesterday, he replied, “It’s not anything I’m going to get into.” Then this:
“I’m just not going to get into somebody who is doing what that person was doing on CBS’s website. This is about who she is going to be as a justice,” Gibbs said.
But Obama has made it quite clear that he believes that who Kagan is going to be as a justice is directly related to biography. Does Gibbs believe that being gay is utterly irrelevant to someone's biography and life-experience? If he does, he is revealing just how out of touch this White House is with the lives of gay people. Ron Klain won't clarify anything either:
“Elena went through the same vet that everyone else goes through for the Supreme Court is all I’ll say.”
Do they realize how weird these coded non-denial denials are going to sound eventually? A lower-level, twenty-something spokesman, Ben LaBolt, flatly denied that Kagan was gay not so long ago. So why cannot Gibbs and Klain repeat his clear statement? It would end this speculation permanently. Another:
Has it occurred to you that Ms. Kagan may not know her identity? If she is indeed gay, is it not possible that it is something that she herself has not come to terms with?
And if that is the case, does she not deserve the right to continue to sift through that privately, and still apply for a job that she is professionally qualified for irrespective of her sexuality however it is defined at this stage?
Yes, it has occurred to me. The price of this kind of high office, however, is a surrender of some biographical privacy - especially when biography is the key factor that Obama has cited in selecting his two nominees. It is naive to believe otherwise. We know how she felt about her own bat mitzvah, for goodness' sake. It's one thing to assert privacy; it's another to create a narrative of oneself that appears to reveal private life but actually conceals it. Besides, there are ways to avoid such scrutiny - such as not accepting a nomination for the Supreme Court. It's not as if these questions are being asked of a private person. They are being asked of someone who may well exercize enormous power over countless lives in a tenured position for life and about whom her biography matters, according to the president. Another:
Did you ask the same question about Sonia Sotomayor that you are now asking about Elena Kagan?
In her early twenties Sotomayor married a man, but she has been single ever since when they divorced in her late twenties, and she has had no children. Did you demand information about her sexual identity, as you now demand it about Kagan? If not, why not? Is it simply because Kagan was never married to a man? Please consider for a moment the immense presumptiveness this implies.
Well, Sotomayor had some kind of private life that clearly tipped the scales toward heterosexuality. Kagan appears to have none at all. Another:
The only people interested in Kagan's sexual proclivities are drooling rightwingers and you.
So? You think I'm gonna fall for the guilt-by-association canard? The bigots believe this is a slur of some kind. I believe it's potentially a massive step forward, which is best dealt with forthrightly. The Christianists are looking at this through the lens of politics, as are those Democrats who, as one put it to me last night, may think they "can sneak one through." I'm looking at this through the lens of someone whose job it is to scrutinize those in power, and who, frankly, would be deeply, deeply proud to see an open lesbian as a Supreme Court Justice. For the record, I'd support the nomination, as I almost always defer to the president on these matters, unless something truly game-changing emerges. But something is off here. And they know it too.