the national interest

Saxby Chambliss Just Hasn’t Met the Right Guy Yet

U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence ranking member Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) waits for his turn to speak to members of the media after a hearing on the Benghazi attack November 16, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director David Petraeus testified before the committee about the September 11 attacks on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
I would not eat green eggs and ham. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Manu Raju, in a report about how Republicans in Congress are not rushing to embrace gay marriage, passes on this puzzling explanation, from Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss: “When asked if his views had changed on gay marriage, the Georgia Republican quipped: ‘I’m not gay. So I’m not going to marry one.’”

What does this mean? It actually sounds like an argument for gay marriage. But unless Raju has completely misunderstood Chambliss — and no correction has appeared — Chambliss seems to think this counts as an argument against it. Or a “quip,” anyway. What does this quip tell us? Chambliss has no reason to rethink his opposition to gay marriage unless and until he personally wants a gay wedding of his own. It’s Rob Portman–ism taken to the next level.

Given that personal experience seems to be how Republican senators change their minds on the issue, I would urge gay-rights groups to introduce some handsome, charming guys to Senator Chambliss and see if sparks fly. Or maybe concoct some farcical scenario where Chambliss’s political future requires him to dress up and perform in a drag show to evade the media. It worked on Republican Senator Kevin Keeley:

The New York Times has a story on young anti-gay-marriage conservatives struggling to regain political momentum. They recognize, but cannot grapple with, the same essential problem that appears to elude Chambliss: If you want to trample on people’s rights, you need a reason. One activist concedes, “To the extent that the other side is able to frame this as a vote for gay people to be happy, it will be challenging for us.”

Well, yeah. Advocates of segregation could at least make the correct case that integration would force white racists to come into closer contact with black people, so more happiness for blacks would require less happiness for racist whites. Figuring out who gets harmed by gay marriage is much harder. That’s why the activists are pretty much all religious Christians who oppose gay marriage because their church does, and they need to reverse engineer a public policy rationale.

Chambliss, interestingly, understands the problem at some level, but can’t intellectualize it, so he winds up spewing a line that actually exposes the bankruptcy of his position.

Sen. Chambliss Just Hasn’t Met the Right Guy Yet