Portmania

We live in such interesting times that a hitherto boring pol made a big splash today: Ohio Senator Rob Portman. Portman is so boring that the reason he was considered as Willard Mittbot Romney’s running mate is that he was so dull that he wouldn’t overshadow Willard.

Today, of course, Portman came our for marriage equality for highly personal reasons: his college age son is gay and came out to his parents a few years back. This reason has been controversial among some of my brothers and sisters on the left. Matt Yglesias and Irin Carmon made some very good points in their respective pieces at Slateand Salon. On one level, it *is* a pity that it took personal experience and empathy to change Portman’s mind BUT as an acquaintance and acolyte of the late great Harvey Milk’s I am here to praise Portman, not to bury him, as it were. This is precisely *why* Harvey wanted gays and lesbians to come out. It’s harder to harbor irrational hatreds when you know the object of that fear and loathing. Personal experience matters.

In short, I’m glad Senator Portman has changed his mind on marriage equality. He’s not the only supporter of DOMA who has changed their position. Bill Clinton signed it into law whlist triangulating his way to re-election in 1996.

Finally, Harvey Milk has been on my mind this week. Remember the Cruz-Feinstein joustover guns, the constitution, and *her* personal experience of gun violence? She said: “When you come from where I’ve come from and what you’ve seen, when you
found a dead body and put your finger in bullet holes, you really
realize the impact of weapons.”

The bullet riddled body she referred to was that of Harvey Milk. Personal experience matters.

7 thoughts on “Portmania

  1. virgotex says:

    Like Jude said, if these guys only had kids that were poor, needed abortions, were unemployed, etc, we’d have it made.
    Not that many of them take it to heart, but elected officials are put in office to act on behalf of the citizens, not their own conscience.
    I’m glad he changed sides but don’t think he deserves any medals.

  2. adrastos says:

    Neither do I, Virgo but incremental improvement is a good thing in my view.

  3. Kevin says:

    Dick Cheney had the same marriage-equality revelation after one of his kids came out. He’s still a shitbird. And Portman knew his son was gay back when Portman was a strong candidate for the VP nomination. Not a word about it then, when he was courting the Tea Party.
    You make a strong case, and I agree with you (and virgotex) that it’s great he changed sides. Too bad he didn’t do it before he voted against letting same-sex couples adopt children. His daughter’s had ladyparts for longer than he’s known his son is gay, and his record on women’s health issues is beyond abysmal. It would be great if he rethought a few other things.

  4. Kevin says:

    Reading that over again, it sounds harsh — and I don’t want to sound harsh to Adrastos (whom I love). His reasoning is sound and well-phrased, as always.
    But I don’t think personal experience always counts for a lot. Sometimes it doesn’t do much other that stir a selfish instinct. Portman reminds me of Sarah Palin, who promised to be a champion for special-needs kids, because she had one. If she’s set up a foundation or dedicated even a sliver of her life to other special-needs kids in the last few years, I haven’t noticed.
    Sometimes that compassion doesn’t go past your own doorstep. And maybe I’m wrong, and Portman will speak out on this issue consistently and strongly, but nothing in his past actions indicates he’ll do anything except collect a few checks from the Log Cabin people, who are no doubt thrilled that an anti-choice Republican whose voting record isn’t far off John Boehner’s deigned to acknowledge that they’re human beings.

  5. adrastos says:

    Awww, I love you too, man. I don’t have high hopes for Portman crusading but it’s a crack in the wall. Hell, Dianne Feinstein was squeamish about theh gay until she started working more closely with first Harvey and then his successor Harry Britt.

  6. MichaelF says:

    Better late than never, but at the same time it’s like pulling teeth with the wingers. Recently I read a profile of Mark Don’t-Cry-For-Me-Appalachain-Trail Sanford. He was asked whether his personal issues opened his eyes if not his mind — it did, but only insofar as he was more sympathetic to other noteworthy people cheating on their spouses. When it came to matters of poverty, civil rights, and so on…nope.

  7. Aaaargh says:

    Zero recognition of the principle “It’s OK to beat on someone else’s kid for being gay, but not on mine!”
    These self-centered bastards think of zero outside of what actually affects them. Douchebaggery 1, Empathy 0.

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