Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 17, 2010

BUCK COMPARES HOMOSEXUALITY TO ALCOHOLISM.... Ken Buck has already made quite a name for himself as Colorado's right-wing Senate candidate. From extremist positions on the issues to inexplicable professional misjudgments, the Republican nominee stands out -- but not in a good way.

This morning on NBC's "Meet the Press," viewers got another opportunity to get to know Buck. Host David Gregory noted to the GOP challenger, "In a debate last month, you expressed your support for Don't Ask, Don't Tell [and] you alluded to 'lifestyle choices.' Do you believe being gay say choice?"

Buck replied, "I do." Gregory followed up, asking, "Based on what?" After initially pretending not to understand the question, Buck added, "I guess you can choose who your partner is."

Let's pause to note that Buck, if elected, wouldn't exactly be one of the towering intellects of the United States Senate.

Before moving on, Gregory pressed further, asking, "You don't think it's something that's determined at birth?" Buck replied, "I think that birth has an influence over it, like alcoholism and some other things, but I think that basically you have a choice."

Sen. Michael Bennet (D) responded that he "absolutely" believes his right-wing rival is "outside the mainstream" on this.

Bennet's right, but he's also understating the case. Buck's* views on human sexuality are evidence of a bizarre worldview. That he'd compare gays and lesbians to alcoholics -- dispassionately, as if this were a routine thing to say -- is a reminder that the leading U.S. Senate candidate in Colorado would be a voice of ignorance and intolerance in the chamber.

It's also a reminder about a larger truth this campaign season. Like Wisconsin's Ron Johnson, Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey, and Florida's Marco Rubio, Buck has benefited greatly from the fact that he's been overshadowed by other extremist candidates.

In a typical year, someone like Buck would be an almost cartoonish right-wing nut, and the subject of national ridicule. After all, the far-right candidate supports repealing the 17th Amendment, eliminating the Department of Education, scrapping the federal student loan program, banning certain forms of birth control and all abortion rights, even in cases of rape or incest. He's said Americans he doesn't like are a bigger threat than terrorists, and is on record talking about privatizing Social Security, the V.A., and the Centers for Disease Control.

And now Buck is insisting sexual orientation is a choice and gays are like alcoholics.

I like to think Colorado is better than this, but I suppose we'll find out in 16 days.


Steve Benen 1:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

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It is getting hader and harder to pay any attention to these right wing American Taliban anymore. If they didn't have money (probably stolen, or at least hiden in off-shore, illegal accounts) no one would give a damn what they said. A cursory examination of their private lives demonstrate they all live in glass houses. What entitles this piece of excrement to comment on the morality of other people's private lives?

Posted by: candideinnc on October 17, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Please correct reference in paragraph 7, sentence 2: It's Buck's views on human sexuality that are evidence of a bizarre worldview, not Bennett's.

Posted by: mk on October 17, 2010 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

I feel like the gay = alcoholic thing is a commonplace on the Christian right... I have a dim recollection that someone like Pat Robertson or James Dobson made that comparison... wish I could remember the specifics.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on October 17, 2010 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

True enough. Time to lay off the stalking jackasses of the right-wing (hint: DE & NY)and put the spotlight on the truly dangerous right-wingers -- the ones who have a chance of winning.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on October 17, 2010 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

It would be nice if Bennett had the courage and integrity to call Buck wrong, instead the politically calculated "outside the mainstream."

Posted by: Winkandanod on October 17, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Right now my head is spinning, just the other day I was reading all kinds of editorials, blogs etc, that said the democrats were gaining on the republicans. This morning our paper said the democrats were going to get wiped out this Nov, and all the blogs are saying the same thing, people that were happy with Obama a few days ago are complaining today. All I can say is - if we do not support him this time we deserve what we get under republican control!

Posted by: JS on October 17, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

Is he still not wearing high heels. It's 2010, so I think that's very important.

Posted by: K in VA on October 17, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Homophobia, like racism, is a chronic infection for those afflicted by it. There is a lot of dormant homophobia and racism in this country, and it only emerges, as with dormant viruses, when conditions are favorable. A bad economy, fear of the 'other', a sense that power is being transferred to unfamiliar groups, and the right-wing hauls its favorite chestnuts out of storage.

What we are seeing nationwide during the campaign is a mere taste of the coming reaction to the social progress of the past fifty years. Obama couldn't provide the change he promised two years ago. People still want change, but going backwards is not what most reasonable and realistic people - that means other than the teabaggers - want. We're just in for a bad time.

So this guy Buck looks like a senator, but it's all a facade. Underneath he's just another redneck bigot with a slightly bigger vocabulary and a nicer house to live in.

Posted by: rrk1 on October 17, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I do indeed agree that these idiots have gotten far too much coverage, to the point where people have hardly been able to get a glimpse of their opponents.

How many times have you seen this guy in the news, and not Bennet?

No matter how you cut it, the right wing wins by grabbing headlines: it normalizes terrible ideas (Buck, O'Donnell, et al., thuggery (see Carl Paladino), anti-Semitism (Iott) and so forth. Do we get to hear from the decent candidates. Nope... this is pitiful.

Posted by: jjm on October 17, 2010 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

If elected, god forbid, Buck will give the record of Sen. Wayne Dullard of CO a real run for the money.

Posted by: SquareState on October 17, 2010 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

Bucks opposes abortion in all cases, only maybe excluding when the woman's life is threatened. A serial rapist has bad genes, so when people that advocate this agenda, are telling us they are in favor of the perpetuation of bad genes.

Posted by: Ted76 on October 17, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

People who are considering this "homosexuality is a choice" matter might ask at what point they themselves chose their sexual orientation. If they are honest, they probably will answer that it was a discovery, not a choice, and that when it first began, they had no very clear idea of what it would lead to.

Posted by: tamiasmin on October 17, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

tamisasmin, I suspect those who call homosexuality a "choice" don't have enough self-awareness to connect the dots of their own life experience. Rather, they simply see themselves as blessed and the "others" as cursed on some level. In effect, this is Calvinism that is as incurious as it is righteous. They won the lottery not out of luck but through divine predestination. Any mental exercise that lead to greater tolerance and compassion would come at the expense of their own special status.

Posted by: walt on October 17, 2010 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Walt, I did say, "If they are honest..." I'm suggesting a question that might improve their self-awareness if they asked it. Not everyone will, but some might.

Posted by: tamiasmin on October 17, 2010 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Five will get ya ten that Buck is probably a closet homosexual AND a closet alcoholic.

Posted by: Speed on October 17, 2010 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Usually I watch the NBC on Sunday, today I did not because I was busy blowing some random guy I picked up last night.

SO now we know, will this make a difference in the election. I hope so, but I doubt it. In general, people who would vote for Buck will vote for him anyways. Most Republicans I have known are pretty stubborn people, my sainted parents the exception, and facts seldom make any impression on them when it comes to politics...

TO get them to change their minds about Buck he would have to be caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy. Even then most would not believe it figuring he was set up.

AS for gay as a choice, quite frankly if you are a guy and you kiss a guy and you get turned on you are probably gay. IT's chemistry. Chemistry? Yeah chemistry. You responded to a guy's hormones and taste and smell. If you were not gay, you would not get turned on.

So this simple test (too simple because there is as much variation in gay people's chemisty as in the rest of the populqtion, still you get the idea) should put all notions of the non-genetic origins of most gayness into that dusty box which holds other obsolete theories of medicine... Humours, Bloodletting, Evil Spirits, etc.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on October 17, 2010 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

being gay "say choice?" i think you need a correction there.

Posted by: Disco on October 17, 2010 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

Thoughtcrime will not be tolerated. Buck must have a cage full of rats attached to his head. Right O'Benen?

Posted by: Goldstein on October 17, 2010 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

There's a large swath of the American public that would agree with him or think he was to soft on the issue. These morons are gaining traction because there are a lot of people who agree with them. If not, they would have disappeared. These crazy candidates are just a mirror held up to a greater portion of our population than we'd care to admit.

Posted by: SaintZak on October 17, 2010 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Here in Denver, the latest poll shows Tom Tancredo surging to within 4 points of Hickenlooper in the race for governor.

It's Tom, "impeach Obama now, he's a racist" immigrant-phobic Tancredo.

The Repubs can get a dog elected this year. And there are presently a lot of dogs running for Congress.

Posted by: kim on October 17, 2010 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

The more shocking take away from this morning's interview was that he could only name the two most recent supreme court nominees as examples of who he could not vote for. When pressed by Gregory, he admitted, though he is an attorney,and a practicing DA, that he was not really paying attention until Obama, and did not seem to want to discuss the Clinton nominees. I am guessing that he probably could not even remember which judges Clinton appointed.

Posted by: gracious on October 17, 2010 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

That's a ridiculous comparison. I'm sure most people would far rather be an alcoholic

Posted by: DaMav on October 17, 2010 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

That's a ridiculous comparison. I'm sure most people would far rather be an alcoholic

Pretty easy choice for anyone who wants to serve in the military.

Posted by: dr. bloor on October 17, 2010 at 10:39 PM | PERMALINK

hetero or homo- either way you'd have to be pretty drunk to sleep with that Buck...

Posted by: andyvillager on October 17, 2010 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

"I suspect those who call homosexuality a "choice" don't have enough self-awareness to connect the dots of their own life experience."--Walt

That's sorta how I'd put it. The gay "choice" notion is purely ideological, it can't be squared with experiences we've had. I never get excited looking at other men. I have seen snippets of gay porn, too, in the course of looking at or for the straight stuff. Does nothing for me. In these respects I am like straight conservative men (perhaps less disgusted than them, who knows). The difference is that some of them think what? That we could think ourselves hard? By thinking about women, maybe? I can't choose to get it up for a man, and I suspect straight conservative men can't either. The "choice" belief fits their overall worldview, that's all, and I will discuss it in those terms, not letting them control the playing field.

Posted by: Half Elf on October 17, 2010 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

hetero or homo- either way you'd have to be pretty drunk to sleep with that Buck...

Posted by: northsideTony on October 17, 2010 at 10:54 PM | PERMALINK

Even if homosexuality were a choice, why would it matter? If we could choose our skin color, would that make it OK to discriminate on that basis? I think just about everyone would say no, because it makes no sense to discriminate on the basis of skin color regardless of whether it's chosen or not.

I think the same applies to sexual orientation: it's simply not a valid basis for discrimination, regardless of whether it's a choice or not. I think it's not a choice, but arguing about it is a distraction because the issue is discrimination, not why some people have different sexual orientations.

Posted by: dsimon on October 17, 2010 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

dsimon -- to the religious right, it's important that homosexuality be a "choice" because that's how sin works. It is in your nature to sin, they think, but specific choices are yours. No gay person can be "saved" unless it's possible for them to submit to God and become what He made them: straight, but irredeemably wicked without Jesus.

I am saying it's not a distraction to them. It is a vital question of human nature. Their God doesn't make gays, sinful choices do; but then, repentance and grace fix sinners of ALL sorts.

Posted by: Half Elf on October 17, 2010 at 11:53 PM | PERMALINK

@ dsimon:

Even if homosexuality were a choice, why would it matter? If we could choose our skin color, would that make it OK to discriminate on that basis?

Ironically for the religious right, there is one area of everyday American conduct that is clearly a choice and just as clearly its practitioners are protected from discrimination. Religion.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on October 18, 2010 at 12:43 AM | PERMALINK

Homosexuality and alcoholism are indeed alike. Both may have a genetic component - certain ethnic groups have enzyme levels which make alcohol more difficult to process. Both may have an environmental component - children of alcoholics often have difficulty with alcoholism. Both activities hurt loved ones - it is sad to be the parent of an alcoholic, and sad to be the parent of a homosexual.

Finally, no matter what the cause of the orientation or desire, both activities are indeed chosen - one can choose to not drink, and one can choose to not have "sex" with someone of the same gender.

Posted by: MKS on October 18, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

MKS --

Most folks don't define being gay as behavioral. It is a matter of desire, of preference, whether or not one has sex. (Notice I didn't put "sex" in scare quotes. Not sure why you did.)

The religious Right claims to be able to cure homosexuality, i.e. same-sex desires. Nobody would need their cure to stop acting gay. People have been not acting gay for millenia: it's called closeting, and it does involve (to various degrees) avoidance of sex. Many gays report years or decades of chaste closeted life. It's infinitely sadder than coming out.

Few credible voices claim an ability to cure alcoholism. Alcoholics Anonymous and various medical models explicitly deny the possibility of a cure. The issue of "choice" in drinking is complex. We change our minds; we are of two minds; etc. The addicted mind seems to have no other goal than patient, tireless, devious subversion of choices to the contrary.

What's really "sad" (to borrow your word) is watching people make the choices you describe, and then fail over and over again. The Right is of no help in these matters; they hinder, typically in a malicious manner. No wonder so many gays and alcoholics choose to make sense of their lives without the "help" of the Right!

I could go on, but suffice to say you're pursuing a false analogy. Take it further and it will break more. I speak as a third-generation (recovering) alcoholic and the spouse of a lesbian's straight child. Please, don't help. You people have done enough.

Posted by: Half Elf on October 18, 2010 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK



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