We Probably Had A Gay President, But Not For The Reason Pete Buttigieg Says [UPDATED]

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.”

Ugh.

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:

Barack Obama.

20 thoughts on “We Probably Had A Gay President, But Not For The Reason Pete Buttigieg Says [UPDATED]

  1. Re: No. 5: Under-staturated Gayness:

    I read the linked article. Talk about sloppy research. The sample size was 863 Canadians who “misrepresented” their height and weight (shocking, I know!), and the analysis found that straight males were (get this!) 1.5 cm taller than their gay counterparts. 1.5 cm converts to about .59 inches. Got that? A half an inch in difference. That is statistically meaningless. Sorry. That “study” is about as worthless as a 4 dollar bill.

    jvb

    • I used the study because it was consistent with my personal observations knowing a lot of gays. My impression has always been that gay men tend to be smaller, slighter, than their straight counterparts….not by a huge amount. I was surprised at the small difference the study found.
      The “misrepresentation” is also interesting. See if you can find out how tall Mayor Pete is. I couuldn’t find it. Many gay men seem to have the same kind of aversion to admitting their height that many women have about admitting their age.

      • This mirrors my experience too, and it’s WEIRD. I’ve caught a couple of guys lying about their height, and all I can think is: “You know you’re standing right in front of me, right?” Like… Who are you trying to fool? Did you forget to glue the phone books to your shoes this morning? At least when someone lies about their age, it isn’t immediately self defeating.

  2. As someone who is personally familiar with Pete, he is smart. He is perpetually politically tone deaf. He thinks as long as it sounds good it is good. He will soon learn this is not true when on the national stage.

      • Just expecting executive branch experience from mayoralty to translate to presidency is the height of arrogance in my book. Big league lessons forthcoming.

      • I can’t find any photos of him standing next to anyone other than his husband. All the images are of him alone.

        Hillary’s shortness was hidden. Her shortness didn’t help her campaign one bit. Height matters big time in leadership. Short leaders are invariably bantam rooster types. Feisty and pugnacious to make up for their lack of height.

          • Jack, I agree with you about Polk but not Truman whose drastic pairing down the military budget almost lost South Korea to the communists. (Remember the Pusan Perimeter?) I think both the Adamses were certainly more distinguished presidents than Truman.

  3. I don’t vote for a person based on their sexuality or gender. Neither are relevant to their abilities. Wearing one’s gender identity or sexuality on their sleeve is a big negative to me. Doing so suggests that I am obligated to vote for him or her or else I will be seen as a bigot or misogynist.

    If you create conditions that limit the choices of a potential supporter you identify yourself as someone willing to limit my choices in other areas

  4. Section 5 and the linked “study” about height/sexuality are ridiculous. I stopped reading there and tried ro forget I read the first four. Come on, Jack….

    5. Being gay is linked to traits that are a handicap in achieving the Presidency. 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. Gays, however, tend to be shorter than average.

    • Wait—you don’t believe that Presidents are taller than average and that the tallest candidate almost always wins? Because, you know, these are facts.

      I’ll agree that that study is unconvincing, but I haven’t seen any data elsewhere—everything online seems to come from that single study. OK Cupid’s take is that short people are more likely to be gay, rather than gay people are likely to be short.

    • I had to interrupt my prep for a dentist appt. to come back to this. 1) The fact that you don’t like one of many arguments is a lazy and cowardly excuse to decide to discard them all. The bottom line is that Buttigieg was full of crap, and unquestionably so, and I made the case. 2) What I should have written, and now will, is that almost all the Presidents were Alpha males, and that’s what Presidents tend to be. It’s also what gay men tend not to be. And Alpha males are usually big males

      • Large men have been seen as leaders or at least protectors since paleolithic times.

        Whether shorter men are more likely to be gay or not is an argument not worth getting into. The gays I know are inches taller than me. It proves nothing.

        Size matters when it comes to choosing a person to represent you and your ideals whether we want to believe it or not.

        What is interesting is that many political despots have had small man syndrome whereby their limited stature may have been a precurser to believing they had something to prove on the world stage: Napolean, Hitler, the Kims of North Korea come to mind.

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