Here's why I don't completely buy the hypocrite argument (I can be swayed on this one). To begin with, it's politics; nearly everybody is a hypocrite. His job was to get Bush elected, which he did. If that means having Bush condemn gay marriage, then so be it. Who knows, Mehlman may have possibly argued with W. over the issue. Unless someone is their own employer, very rarely do employees agree with every thing that their boss/company does. Mehlman could have seen other facets of Bush's agenda as more important than gay marriage. Or he could be a total hypocrite, I simply don't know.
Secondly (and this is my main point of the post), to definitively believe that Mehlman is a hypocrite we have to define Mehlman through his homosexuality. This is one point that I find very irritating about society's treatment of homosexuality; it feels that because someone is gay that they have to be defined through a lens of gayness. Are you a professional athlete whose entire life has been devoted to your sport but happen to be attracted to men? Oh, you're the gay basketball player, not the basketball player who happens to be gay. Are you a great newscaster whose stories have been eye-opening, but happen to be homosexual? Oh, you're the gay newscaster. This belief that homosexuals should be identified first through through homosexuality, then through whatever else they define themselves as is simply an assumption not based in fact.
So it's not much of a surprise that the media was scratching their heads saying look, a former Bush aide was gay, be outraged! It's one man's personal journey, as Mehlman states:
"It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life. Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I've told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they've been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that's made me a happier and better person. It's something I wish I had done years ago."The reason that no one really cares about which gender Mehlman likes to go to bed with is not because of the two wars we're fighting, it's not the fiscal crisis this country cannot shake itself from, it's simply because people do not care. Was what Mehlman did during Bush's re-election campaign laudable? Hardly, but then again politics in general offers little to rejoice over. Mehlman is not the first person to do something seemingly against their interests, and he will not be the last.
But I think denouncing Mehlman as a hypocrite is a little harsh. Maybe recovering hypocrite (he plans to champion the cause of gay marriage and a former Bush aide might be able to draw other conservatives into the movement). I, for one, am not surprised that there are homosexuals in every aspect of our society, the same way I'm not surprised that there are heterosexuals in every aspect of society. The less we begin to care about one's sexual orientation and the more we recognize its immutability, the better off we will be as a society.
Photo - Ken Mehlman being satirically defined through a lens of gayness (Photoshop)