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May 10, 2010

The Supremely Gay Card

<span style="font-size: x-small;">Chip Somodevilla-Getty Images</span>
Chip Somodevilla-Getty Images

Does the gay buzz from the opening bell of the Kagan nomination spell:

1. a breakthrough on the issue of gays in high places?

2. an eruption of DC homophobia?

or

3. the right-wing’s cultural undermining of  a nominee who is otherwise near-impossible to ideologically typecast ?  (Here, I’m specifically referring to CBS’s publication of Ben Domenech’s smear piece making an issue of Elena Kagan’s sexual identity, followed by the sudden and eager amplification of the question by the rest of the media — not to mention the perhaps overeager refutation by the White House.)

The over-amped gender and identity politics already surrounding the Kagan nomination is evidenced by WAPO ignoring the obvious read of this image, which both emphasizes and celebrates a potential third woman on the Supreme Court, by instead, applying this caption to this “intro to Kagan” slideshow photo:

When a writer at CBS wrote that Kagan is openly gay, the White House responded to the contrary with surprising vigor.

…The NYT.com caption of this same photo published Sunday evening, by the way, reads:

Ms. Kagan is known for her easy banter with the justices. She spoke with former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at a conference in 2009.

  • bystander

    You know, I honestly don’t care if Kagan is a genderless droid with red and blue spots. We might know more about Kagan were that so.

    The Right will oppose because that is their current political strategy. Those on the Left who believe Obama could have made a better choice will be cornered into defending Kagan – some because they’ll, ultimately, support any choice Obama makes, and some because her sexual orientation shouldn’t matter even though they themselves actively oppose Obama’s choice.

    My own take is Kagan’s sexual orientation is a red herring. It’s an irrelevant issue made relevant for different groups for different reasons. It nicely keeps the focus off the fact that Kagan is virtually a blank slate, is a DC insider – as all of Obama’s choices have been – and will preserve the Bush/Cheney legacy by supporting the current status quo. And, given our current Senate, what’s at stake will never be brought to the surface even if our witless media were inclined to report on it – which they won’t.

  • Neil

    CJR on the fuss over WSJ’s choice of front page photo of Kagan:
    http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/wsj_kagan_softball_trust.php

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