Richardson's Gaffe Problem
by Todd Beeton, Fri Aug 10, 2007 at 03:14:36 PM EDT
At last night's LGBT presidential forum, Bill Richardson made the one glaring gaffe of the night:
Melissa Etheridge: Do you think homosexuality is a choice or is it biological?
Bill Richardson: It's a choice.
Once he said it, it was clear to everyone that he'd made a mistake. Etheridge even tried to give him a second chance to answer and Margaret Carlson tried to bail him out later, but neither time did Richardson take the lifeline, seemingly clueless as to how to right the error. But just as he said it, the first thing to pop into my head was: oh, man, his campaign's going to have to clean up this mess. And sure enough, per America Blog, Richardson issued this statement of clarification:
I misunderstood the question. Let me be clear- I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice. But I'm not a scientist, and the point I was trying to make is that no matter how it happens, we are all equal and should be treated that way under the law. That is what I believe, that is what I have spent my career fighting for. I ask that people look at my record and my actions and they will see I have been a true supporter of the LGBT community."
It's a fine statement and echoes something a friend of mine said to me last night: "why does it matter if he does the right things?" Which is a sentiment shared by Atrios:
But in general terms, focusing on the record is something we should do more instead of trying to divine what's in the souls of candidates. There are reasons for doing the latter, as past performance is no guarantee of future returns, but ultimately it doesn't really matter what politicians think about things deep in their hearts.
True enough. But for me, for better or worse, it's not his record OR what's really in his heart that's the issue here. There's a whole other level of information we're getting from these debates, which is how these candidates are going to handle themselves against their Republican counterparts in the general, whether as a presidential or VP candidate. Many people tout Richardson's resume as the reason he'd make a great presidential candidate and his ethnicity and geography as evidence that he's the perfect VP choice, but after last night and after his choice of Byron (Whizzer) White as his model Supreme Court justice (see his mea culpa for that HERE) and after his cringe-worthy Meet The Press appearance from May, I really have to conclude that Richardson is just not ready for prime time. There are limitations to a resume. Secretary of State -- hell yes, but please candidates, please take him off your VP shortlists. The last thing we need is for "Boy, I really screwed that one up" to be a recurring refrain during next year's campaign season.