With the lightning-fast way news cycles and political fortunes change nowadays, the 2016 presidential election might as well be a century away. Predictions are pointless, but they’re also free and easy to make, so I’m gonna offer one right now: With his comments in San Francisco last night comparing gayness and alcoholism, not to mention his basic endorsement of so-called “gay reparative” therapy, Rick Perry killed his (already slim) chances at becoming the next U.S. president.
Let me explain my prophecy. I don’t live in a rainbow flag-draped fantasy where LGBT people are some kind of deal-breaker for the majority of U.S. voters. There are still millions of conservatives, mostly in the Republican Party, who’re actively hostile toward the idea of same-sex relationships. And frankly, many moderates –– and a lot of left-leaning people –– are languishing somewhere between apathy and vague sympathy where LGBT folks are concerned. At this point in American history, I’d argue that most voters (even many Republicans) have accepted LGBT citizens as a fact of life, if not necessarily as a civil rights cause to get deeply passionately about.
But gay conversion therapy is a joke almost everywhere (except the Texas Republican Party). To most American voters –– even most conservatives –– it’s an absurd, fringe-y notion, as it should be. And in 2014, any national politician who aspires to the Oval Office should not be caught endorsing gay reparative therapy at a San Francisco forum on economics, fer Chrisake. Perry’s comments were fringe-y and bizarre, but even worse, they were undisciplined, ill-informed and comically oblivious to both his immediate audience (did I mention he was speaking in San Francisco?!!!) and to The Real World circa 2014. You don’t have to be in love with The Gays to think: This Perry guy’s never gonna be ready for the adult political world.
So you heard it here first: Rick Perry stomped his presidential aspirations to death last night by once again being himself –– an arrogant, small-time rube who’s been coddled by the Texas political bubble. There will be no dramatic denunciations from major conservatives, but donors and important figures in the Republican Party will, from here on out, begin distancing themselves slowly and quietly. Betcha I’m right about this. Betcha.