Ken Mehlman, Republican National Committee chairman and Bush's 2004 campaign advisor, revealed that he's gay in an interview released yesterday in The Atlantic.
Excellent. And so what? Also – good for him. Coming out carries more weight for former Bush appointees, I imagine. Though Mehlman has recently spoken out against Prop 8 and other anti-gay laws, he says he wasn't ready to do that at the height of his career:
"What I do regret, and think a lot about, is that one of the things I talked a lot about in politics was how I tried to expand the party into neighborhoods where the message wasn't always heard. I didn't do this in the gay community at all."
He said that he "really wished" he had come to terms with his sexual orientation earlier, "so I could have worked against [the Federal Marriage Amendment]" and "reached out to the gay community in the way I reached out to African Americans."
While not the worst years to be openly, sign-carrying, down-with-anti-gay legislation gay, 2004-2007 were not greatest years to be gay. It must have been even harder working from under the Bush umbrella and contemplating, possibly, supporting some pro-gay initiatives, but not being quite ready to align yourself with that.
It's shocking and even gratifying to learn that Bush had a gay wingman (who did nothing for the gay community because he "wasn't in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that"). But, ultimately, it's infuriating. We can't say, "Fuck you for tacitly approving institutionalized homophobia," because we don't have the right to be angry about someone's personal life choices. All we can say "Hooray, good for you, I guess. At least you were less obnoxious than Michael Steele."