The Spectacle Blog

On Mehlman

By on 8.26.10 | 5:17PM

I endorse every word of Jim Antle's wise post below on Ken Mehlman's homosexuality, etc. I write to correct the record, in answer to some commenters below Jim's post. Ken Mehlman did a GREAT job in various roles at the RNC. He and Ed Gillespie built the get-out-the-vote effort in 2004 which was the most successful of its kind that Republicans have EVER run. On nuts and bolts, the RNC in those years was often superb and always at least somewhat better than basic competence. (Granted, GOTV in 2004 was SERIOUSLY helped by grassroots organizing completely apart from the RNC, based in opposition, as Jim noted, to gay marriage. But Mehlman and Gillespie knew exactly how to take advantage of those opportunities, and they did so.)

Mehlman alone was in charge at the RNC in 2006. That was like asking someone to take the helm of the Poseidon just before the tidal wave came. Commenters who said he "presided" over a disaster misunderstand what a RNC chair does. Especially when the White House is controlled by Republicans, the RNC chair is completely at the mercy, in terms of POLICY choices and of election themes, of what is emanating from the White House. The RNC's job is to raise a lot of money, leverage it effectively, and do good nuts-and-bolts work. I think Mehlman did okay at that in 2006 as well. But with Bush imploding, the Hastert Congress embarrassing the Hades out of itself, Iraq not yet surged, and other problems, there was not much else the RNC could do. And I say this as somebody who (including just this morning in a blog post right here) has always been absolutely unafraid to criticize the party committees, which I tend to dislike quite viscerally.

This is not to say that Mehlman is a political genius. But he has been a far-better-than-average operative, and even though he sometimes can spout the party line with too much arrogance and too little straight talk, he has been a gentleman and a man of decency throughout his career.

THAT aside, I do have a problem with this: Why does he act like it follows, as night does day, that just because he now has decided he is homosexual it means his position on homosexual marriage should change? The defense of traditional marriage is not or should not be a matter of one's own "sexuality," but of the principles involved. Is he saying his principles suddenly changed? That doesn't speak well of him. Just because he now is homosexual doesn't mean that all of society should have its laws and traditions changed. I think he is way off base here, because it seems like he is conflating the personal with the principles. This is a remarkably, and offensively, solipsistic stance/outlook. 

That, not his performance at the RNC, and not his personal decision that he is homosexual, is what is open to criticism and is the most disturbing development.

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