EVEN before the announcement of Elena Kagan as President Obama's next pick for the U.S. Supreme Court the question of her sexuality had drawn attention, mainly due to rightwing smears, and even prompted a somewhat tacky (and unnecessary) she-is-not-gay official response from the White House. But now that she has drawn the nomination, it's open season., with Andrew Sullivan (from the right or center, or wherever he is now) sparking a good deal of debate by demanding that she come out. Reporters even asked White House spokesman Robert Gibbs about it today at his daily briefing. But should this question draw a full airing on the left?
An interesting phenomenon today is that many liberal writers have tackled the question head-on or in a more subtle way: e.g., Ezra Klein tweeted that he found Sullivan's post interesting and provided a link.
Here at The Nation we have Senior Editor Richard Kim's piece, for example. He rips Sullivan's history on such matters, and argues that for now we should agree that Kagan is not gay--because she has not said otherwise and who cares anyway. And she should be grilled on plenty of other things we don't know about.
This article at the TAPPED blog at The American Prospect by Silvana Naguib offers a summary of two views. 1) "It doesn't matter, so we don't need to know." This is what Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwich wrote at Slate. 2) "It doesn't matter, so what are you hiding?" This is Andrew Sullivan's view. In the end Naguib claims she doesn't care if Kagan is gay but what does matter is, does it matter? Follow?
Joe Conason just added his voice, at Salon, advising, "Don't invade Kagan's privacy" and make her "disrobe," metaphorically speaking: "It is just as deplorable that Kagan should be badgered about her private life from the left as from the right."
Hanna Rosin, also at Slate, rules the question out of bounds today: "the whisper campaigns and the whisper campaigns about the whisper campaigns should end." But she mentions Lindsay Graham in passing; and seems to suggest that if Kagan's lesbianism is proven it might be another matter (she even feels the need to include the "Gary Hart" disclaimer, you know, I'm not inviting you to prove it).
Andrew Sullivan responded: "I am NOT whispering." He did, however, publish some angry replies by some of his readers.
New York magazine's Intel section asserts that the whole question is "pointless" but the fact there are questions is not. Huh? Then you have Jack Shafer, also at Slate, declaring that he doesn't know and doesn't care if Kagan is gay but he wishes an out gay person WOULD be named so we could get it over with it and get past the "shrugging point