It's been interesting to sit back and watch the bullshit fly in the wake of Kay Hagan's untimely recruitment into the US Senate primary. Not only has the story hit the national news, it has reverberated like a hand-grenade in the blogosphere.
Thinking that I may have gotten too close to the issue, I went in search of a more seasoned voice to clarify my thinking. That's when I found this posting by Bob Geary a veteran journalist who has covered North Carolina politics longer than many of our readers have been alive. His analysis resonated with me:
To say the least, we’re in a very teachable time on gay rights here in North Carolina:
Today, state Sen. Kay Hagan announced that she’s a candidate for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination. The fact that the only other announced candidate, Jim Neal, is gay has absolutely nothing to do with her decision, Hagan told the Associated Press. [AP: Hagan said investment banker Jim Neal’s (D) entry into the race wasn’t a factor in her decision.] Really? Then why did Hagan announce three weeks ago that she would not be running?
Gay rights issues are tough for Democrats. Granted. Stipulated. So, too, were civil rights issues, womens issues, environmental issues, union issues. If they weren’t tough, they wouldn’t be issues. And if they weren’t issues, the party of the status quo — the aptly nicknamed Grand Old Party — could handle them just fine. But since they are, the supposed party of change, the Democratic Party, must grapple with them. Meaning, I would think, figure out how to move them forward — more rights, better working conditions, cleaner air, etcetera — and avoid falling backward.
But notice, now, what’s happened in the case of the Democratic Senate nomination. It’s a most-likely Democratic year ahead in ‘08, and maybe even a Democratic-blowout year, so Republican incumbent Liddy Dole should be vulnerable (the Democratic thinking goes). But for various reasons, all of the party’s “strongest” possible candidates — Mike Easley, Roy Cooper, Brad Miller, Grier Martin, and yes, Kay Hagan — take themselves out of the race. No one is challenging Dole. So come October, very late in the game as Senate elections go, it must be said, a Chapel Hill investment banker named Jim Neal gets in the race. He’s a Democrat. Raised money for Kerry, Wes Clark, and Erskine Bowles in ‘04. Has good bidness credentials. Maybe isn’t an A-List candidate, but he looks good, sounds smart, and if it’s a blowout year, he could pull an upset. Or so it’s said, until a few days later when Mr. Neal let’s it be known, in a tone as matter-of-fact as if he was announcing his eye color, that yes, indeed, he is gay.
Well, uh, oh. Gay? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, in the immortal words of “Seinfeld,” but Democratic leaders now go bullsh*t and start dialing frantically dialing around to anyone and everyone who isn’t gay to get in the race before finally convincing Hagan to change her mind. Now I don’t know if Neal would’ve run anyway if Hagan or Miller or Mike Easley had already announced — maybe he would’ve, and it wouldn’t have been such a huge deal that he’s gay and everybody could’ve relaxed about it and heard what the man has to say about the other issues of the day. Some Democrats are straight and some are gay, would be the takeaway, which is not news to anybody, hopefully.
But now, by its bungling, the Democratic party has revealed that it wants gay votes but not gay candidates, which pisses gay folks off about like it would if we substituted the words “black” or “female” for gay in that statement. Sure, we’re for gay rights, just not too many of ‘em — is the message; and if that’s not what the party intended, that’s what coming across nonetheless.
I understand the instinct of many BlueNC readers to give Hagan and the Democratic Party the benefit of the doubt, and I've tried hard to do that myself. But you know what? I can't quite get there.
BlueNC is dedicated to making North Carolina a more progressive and prosperous state. If your intention is to disrupt this effort, please find somewhere else to express your opinions.