Democratic Party Presidential contender Pete Buttigieg is supposed to be brilliant, but when people who are supposed to be brilliant say dumb things in public, I suspect two things: either they aren’t as smart as we thought, or they are deliberately trying to make the public more stupid than it is.
Buttigieg, who is trying to become the first openly gay Presidential nominee of a major party, told “Axios on HBO” over the weekend, arguing that his characteristics were not electoral handicaps,
“People will elect the person who will make the best president. And we have had excellent presidents who have been young. We have had excellent presidents who have been liberal. I would imagine we’ve probably had excellent presidents who were gay — we just didn’t know which ones. Statistically, it’s almost certain.”
1. Buttigieg’s party has spent three years arguing that the people elected a President who is unfit for office, mostly because those who voted fro him are racist, sexist idiots. Will someone ask him during the debates how he reconciles his party’s position with his statement?
2. We’ve had excellent Presidents who were “young,” but none nearly as young as Buttigieg. JFK was the youngest elected President, at 43. Pete is a full six years younger than that. This is deliberate obfuscation for the historically challenged.
3. Even if Buttigeig were correct about some of the Presidents being gay, it doesn’t have any relevance to whether an openly gay candidate can get elected. Doesn’t Buttigieg know this (See above: he’s either making a stupid argument or a dishonest one.) A similar situation exists regarding Presidential faith. Officially, all Presidents believed in God; it is highly doubtful that this was true in reality, however. Nonetheless, even today a professed atheist would have a difficult time getting elected.
3. Is Buttigieg’s understanding of demographics and statistics really as weak as his statistical argument suggests? Statistics for the entire population in 2017 suggested that about 4.5% of the population was gay. 44 men have been President (Grover Cleveland counts as one man but two Presidents because of his split terms.) That’s far too small a sample size to expect a statistical prediction to bear out, certainly too small to say that it’s “almost certain” that a less than 5% demographic would hold in a group of just 44. Most Americans are brown-eyed, but 43 of the 45 Presidents had blue, hazel or green eyes, for example.
4. That is also because the pool of Presidents is not a randomly selected group. Only certain kinds of citizens, largely with similar family dynamics and cultural conditioning, so far, have become President, or had a real chance to do so. Over the course of more than two centuries, not only may the demographics of the nation changed regarding gay men, the ability of a man who was gay, seemed gay or was suspected of being gay to advance in society and politics has changed dramatically. Applying a 2017 statistic over the entire history of the nation is bad logic, bad technique and bad science.
5. Being gay is linked to traits that are a handicap in achieving the Presidency, and becoming President is linked to traits that are not as common in gays. For example, Presidents, on average, are much taller than the average man, and always have been. Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, Jackson, Lincoln, LBJ were very tall for their times; Trump is tall. Reagan was tall; Bushes were both tall. More than half the Presidents have been at least 5’11. Very few Presidents have been below average in height; arguably, only one, James Madison. There is some evidence that gays tend to be shorter than average, and my guess is that a better study would yield more convincing evidence of this. In elections, the taller Presidential candidate almost always wins, the result of people thinking of their leaders as being physically imposing.
A related factor is that Presidents are almost always classic Alpha males. Gays are not typically Alpha males. In many ways, that’s a good thing, but it is not conducive to becoming President. [NOTE: The above section (5) was revised after the original post was published.]
6. As it happens, there may have been one gay President, though even this is far from “certain.” James Buchanan was our only bachelor President, and some murky aspects of his personal life—his engagement to his fiancee collapsed due to some undisclosed “shocking” revelation by James—suggests that he may have been gay, as was rumored during his life. Buttigieg wouldn’t want to name Buchanan as a supportive precedent for his candidacy, however, since he was arguably the worst President the nation has ever had, and easily its biggest weenie.
7. I’ve studied the biographies of all of the Presidents except Donald Trump. Outside of Buchanan, none of them show any signs that they might have been gay, except one other, and even there the evidence is weak. Buttigieg wouldn’t dare flag him, either: