Ken Buck, the Republican challenger to Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), is facing a backlash for declaring — in a nationally televised debate with Bennet — that, although "birth has an influence" on sexual orientation as with "alcoholism," homosexuality is a choice. (Watch the video below.) Post-debate, the Tea Party favorite said that he didn't mean to talk "about being gay as a disease." In a tight race focused on economic issues, will Buck's misstep on a hot-button social issue make a difference?
This exposes Buck for the "right-wing nut" he is: This is far from Buck's first "extremist" position in the race, says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. In any normal election year, comparing homosexuality to alcoholism, "dispassionately, as if this were a routine thing to say" would mark Buck as a "cartoonish right-wing nut, and the subject of national ridicule."
"Buck compares homosexuality to alcoholism"
This is a non-story: The question, from NBC's David Gregory, clearly left Buck "surprised and uncomfortable," says Jon Ward in The Daily Caller. And no wonder: Social issues are "nowhere near the top of the list" of Colorado voters' concerns this year. So why did sexual preference come up? Blame Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, who riled up "liberal bloggers" last week by calling homosexuality a "lifestyle choice."
"Sexual orientation makes surprise appearance..."
The fallout could go either way: Buck should have just said the issue of homosexuality "should not be a matter of federal concern," says B. Daniel Blatt at Gay Patriot. "But, alas he did not." That may end up hurting him with the crucial "fiscally conservative/socially liberal voters in the Denver suburbs" — unless his rival Bennet overplays this and "dwells on the issue," which may remind voters that the economy is their major concern.
"Does Ken Buck really believe being gay is a choice?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How the South's ugly racial history is haunting ObamaCare
- If Democrats abandon immigration reform after Tuesday's likely loss, they will turn 2016 into a debacle
- Stop making fun of philosophy and read some philosophy
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Israel's quiet doomsday submarines are almost ready
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How languages are like food
Subscribe to the Week