His formal apology came a few hours after this post but the point I made there stands. A guy who’s running as an unapologetic plain-spoken social conservative, who attacks political correctness in nearly every speech he gives, is not a guy you’d expect to retreat quickly after a blow-up with the media on gay issues. The Right Scoop’s headline for its post on Carson’s statement is “Ben Carson caves to gays.” That’s probably how a lot of Carson fans will perceive this, no?
The key line here comes at the end when he says he botched his answer to Chris Cuomo about what makes people gay because, after all, he’s “not a politician.”
In a recent interview on CNN, I realized that my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues.
I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended…
I support human rights and Constitutional protections for gay people, and I have done so for many years. I support civil unions for gay couples, and I have done so for many years. I support the right of individual states to sanction gay marriage, and I support the right of individual states to deny gay marriage in their respective jurisdictions…
I am not a politician and I answered a question without really thinking about it thoroughly. No excuses. I deeply regret my statement and I promise you, on this journey, I may err again, but unlike politicians when I make an error I will take full responsibility and never hide or parse words. As a human being my obligation is to learn from my mistakes and to treat all people with respect and dignity.
More at the link, including his warning that the state shouldn’t interfere with any religion’s definition of marriage. One irony of all this is that, for someone who’s “not a politician,” he sure sounds like a politician here. Last night, in chatting with Hannity, he sounded defiant — the media’s not going to be fair when broaching this topic, he insisted, so he’s going to stay away from it from now on. Evidently Team Carson huddled and decided that that wasn’t good enough for a candidate who’s, um, hoping to win the general election with 55 percent of the vote so they put out a carefully worded “unreserved” apology later. The CNN commentator in the clip below is right to see that as a noteworthy, and obviously political, shift. So if you like Carson in part because he’s authentic and not scripted, you’re probably disappointed. And if you dislike Carson for the same reason — he’s not scripted, he’s a loose cannon — then you’re even more worried about him now than you were yesterday. How can it be that a social conservative who’s doing major media hits ahead of running for president hasn’t thoroughly thought through whether he believes orientation is a choice or something intrinsic and whether prison sex is a fair indicator?
The other irony is that, for all the heat Carson took yesterday, he’s open to legalized gay marriage insofar as he’s a federalist on the issue. “I support the right of individual states to sanction” the practice, he says, which puts him in line with Ted Cruz and puts both of them quite a ways away from social conservative orthodoxy as recently as 2008 or so in calling for a Federal Marriage Amendment to ban gay marriage nationwide. The media’s holding Carson up as an example of how retrograde his views are, but meanwhile even the right wing of the GOP field is ready for gay marriage coast to coast so long as it’s being enacted by state legislatures. We’ll see if Huckabee and Rick Santorum go along with that approach. If not, then there’s a third irony waiting in the wings — namely, Carson could be attacked by one or both of them for being too soft on gay rights, which could hurt him badly in Iowa. No worries for Carson fans, though: It’ll probably end up helping him in the general election after he’s the nominee. Yeah.