Dancing around the caucus issues

BY ADAM B SULLIVAN | JULY 27, 2011 7:20 AM

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Wait, seriously? We're attacking a caucus candidate for how gay her spouse looks when he dances?

Yeah, that really happened. Earlier this month, comedy newsman Jon Stewart played a clip of Marcus Bachmann — whose counseling clinic offers gay-repression therapy — dancing and said, "Is he teaching people not to be gay or is he like the 'Green Mile' guy, just absorbing it all?"

Surely, the lefty blogosphere and the gay-rights camp jumped on Stewart for it, right? I mean, it's obviously unacceptable to poke fun at someone's sexuality based on the way he holds himself or the inflection in his voice, right? Certainly this is worse than Glenn Beck mocking the first lady's clothes, right?

Guess not. James Withers at 365 Gay didn't take issue with it and instead said, "It was bound to happen." Katla McGlynn at Huffington Post gave Stewart a pat on the back, a play-by-play, and a link to the clip. And Matt Cherette at Gawker takes Stewart's side and says Marcus Bachmann "may be a little light in the loafers."

Being myself what some may call an effeminate dancer, I take offense to the suggestion that the way in which a man moves his hips is indicative of whom he might like to have sex with. But even if there are sexual-orientation signs in one's demeanor, who cares? What if Marcus Bachmann is suppressing homosexuality? That's something worth discussing if there's real evidence thereof, but certainly not grounds on which to make him the butt of a prime-time joke.

What's perhaps most unnerving is that by being homophobic in this case, we miss the real issue. Marcus Bachmann's counseling clinic offers anti-gay therapy and receives federal funding. Whether you agree with that or not, it's clearly worth discussing. Turning the conversation into a spectacle at how supposedly gay someone dances diverts attention from the issue.

Mainstream media did the same thing with the Michele Bachmann migraine fiasco. It's obviously stupid and sexist to make an issue out of a female politician's headaches — especially when there's a 75-year-old in the race who likely has more pressing health issues.

There are probably dozens of real items the media could have reported on instead of a non-issue such as headaches, including that when ABC News' Brian Ross tried to ask Bachmann about headaches, her campaign staff roughed him up a little bit. If Bachmann wants to tell a reporter that she thinks headaches are not important to the campaign and decline to talk about it, that's acceptable, and she'd be right. However, physically standing in the way of news reporters sets a new standard of opacity in politics, and that's not acceptable. Instead of having a real conversation with how open candidates need to be with the press, we talked about Bachmann's headaches for a week.

What a headache.

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