Conservative radio host and recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom Rush Limbaugh found himself in hot water Thursday over remarks he made about former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. In a nutshell, the fiery right wing superstar opined on how Democrats view the impact of Mayor Pete’s homosexuality in a potential debate against Donald Trump, who Limbaugh views as an alpha male.
Here are the remarks in question:
Then they’re sitting there and they’re looking at Mayor Pete, a 37-year-old gay guy, mayor of South Bend, loves to kiss his husband on the debate stage, and they’re saying, ‘Okay. How’s that going to look, a 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage next to Mr. Man, Donald Trump? What’s gonna happen there?’
They gotta be looking at that, they’ve gotta be saying that despite all the great progress and despite all the great wokeness and despite all the great ground that’s been covered, America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage president. They have to be saying this, don’t they?
Were these remarks edgy? Uncouth? Yeah, sure. But they are also almost certainly accurate. The “they” Limbaugh is referring to is the Democratic Party, and there is no question that not only party officials, but operatives in Buttigieg’s own campaign have asked these questions in deciding how he should approach being the first openly gay major presidential candidate
And none of this really new. We see articles and panel discussions from all over the political spectrum all the time about whether the country is ready to elect a woman president. In 2008 the question of whether Americans would elect a black man president was absolutely commonplace. As were specific discussions about how Obama should deal with that issue.
And as with Obama being the first black nominee, if Buttigieg becomes the first openly gay nominee, that will come with advantages as well as disadvantages. For many voters it will be viewed as an historic and fantastic step forward for the country, for others, like the woman in Iowa who wanted her vote back when she found out he was in a gay marriage, it could do harm.
And this was the point that Rush Limbaugh was making in his very Rush Limbaugh way. Sure, in a Democratic debate smooching his husband on stage might play very well with a lot of voters. But in a general election debate, it might not. But anyone who thinks Buttigieg’s team, should he get there, won’t be weighing the pros and cons of a post debate kiss is more naïve than Kay Adams-Corleone in the Godfather. Of course they will, and likely in terms not dissimilar from Limbaugh’s.
But even in the Democratic primary itself, the issue of Buttigieg’s homosexuality will play a role. Something that almost nobody, not even Rush Limbaugh wants to talk about in public, but is often discussed behind closed doors is the effect that his being gay will have in courting the black vote.
According to a Pew poll from last year, while 62 percent of white Americans support gay marriage, only 51 percent of blacks do. That gap in itself is meaningful, but when you consider whites are split about evenly between the two parties, while blacks are overwhelmingly Democrats, it becomes an even bigger concern.
Will Mayor Pete’s campaign make careful and calculated choices about when and where he appears with his husband? You bet your sweet fanny they will. Not to do so would be political malpractice. And that ultimately is what Rush Limbaugh was talking about. He wasn’t saying there shouldn’t be a gay president; he was questioning whether America is ready for it, and speculating as to how the Democrats might deal with the issue.
In the era of outrage porn, where snippets are snipped to drag anyone who doesn’t toe the line, be it progressive wokeism on the left or Trumpism on the right, we are all supposed to be very careful what we say. Limbaugh isn’t, he never has been. Nothing he said was homophobic. He’s a pundit, he’s paid to pontificate and predict the predilections of the voting public.
How Buttigieg ‘s sexual orientation works in the minds of voters is absolutely fair game to discuss. We do it in regard to race and gender constantly. So let’s cut Rush a break here and understand that he really is just doing his job.