A reader understandably asks:
I think your readers are a little bit more interested in what Ken was thinking while he was in the closet and shepherding anti-gay marriage laws in several states as head of the Republican Party. Why hasn’t he been asked this?
Because he felt that he had adequately addressed that question already, and our policy in the Ask Anythings is not to insist on an answer for any specific question. We give a huge amount of autonomy to the guests – and that was no different for Mehlman than for anyone else. Here are his previous confessions:
In an interview with Salon, the chairman of President Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign says he personally apologizes to people who “were harmed by the campaigns in which I was involved.” Ken Mehlman came out as gay in 2010. At the time, he expressed regret that he didn’t push back against the Bush campaign’s support for a federal anti-gay marriage amendment and anti-gay marriage initiatives on state ballots. “I can’t change the fact that I wasn’t in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that. It was very hard, personally,” he said.
Earlier this year, he said: “At a personal level, I wish I had spoken out against the effort,” Mehlman said. “As I’ve been involved in the fight for marriage equality, one of the things I’ve learned is how many people were harmed by the campaigns in which I was involved. I apologize to them and tell them I am sorry.”
I know exactly why these responses may not feel sufficient to many Dish readers.
But the Ask Anythings are not designed as classic persistent interviews by a lone interviewer. They’re constructed to give the speaker a chance to say whatever he or she feels – to shine or not, in the eyes of the readers. I am not in the room when the sessions are recorded, (with a few exceptions). The questions are voted on by readers. And what a guest chooses to talk about is often as revealing as what he or she chooses not to talk about. Our policy is to let them prove or hang themselves – and let you be the judge.
I also totally understand the sentiment that the man should still be raked over the coals for the 2004 campaign, especially in Ohio. But I have a firm and long policy in these cultural wars. Those seeking heretics will always lose to those seeking converts. And Mehlman is not just talking the talk on this; he has made a real difference in recent years in advancing the cause – which seems to me more important than settling old scores. Given that Mehlman has publicly apologized (unlike, say, Bill Clinton) to the gay victims of his past, I was not going to force another one in a format where we never do that anyway. It was my call to maintain these rules, but, of course, if Mehlman had wanted to apologize and explain again, I would not have stood in the way. He chose not to.
Because of these very limitations on Ask Anythings, we’ll be offering subscribers this fall a series of podcast conversations between me and a variety of other human beings where, trust me, I follow up questions relentlessly. They will not be traditional interviews, as on cable news or TV generally, just as the Ask Anything isn’t like anything on TV. They’ll be conversations – wide-ranging, spontaneous and with no topics off the table. They have no fixed time limit – and vary wildly in length and content.
We’re calling them “Andrew Asks Anything”. We have several in the bag and I’ll be taping more this fall. Stay tuned. But these will only be for subscribers. To become one, [tinypass_offer text=”click here”]. It’s as little as $2 a month, and, without ads, is our only source of income.