HOMOPHOBIA?….I have to admit, I’m puzzled by the reaction in some corners to what seemed like one of the more amusing and lighthearted moments of last night’s debate.
NPR’s Michel Martin asked the candidates, “[W]hat is the plan to stop and to protect these young people from this scourge?” When it was Joe Biden’s turn, the senator suggested the key to combating AIDS is prevention: “I got tested for AIDS. I know Barack got tested for AIDS. There’s no shame in being tested for AIDS. It’s an important thing.”
The audience laughed nervously. When Biden was done with his answers, Obama, smiling, interjected.
OBAMA: Tavis, Tavis, Tavis, I just got to make clear — I got tested with Michelle. (Laughter, applause.)
OBAMA: In — when we were in Kenya in Africa. So I don’t want any confusion here about what’s going on. (Applause continues.)
SMILEY: All right.
BIDEN: And I got tested to save my life, because I had 13 pints of blood transfusion.
OBAMA: I was tested with my wife.
SMILEY: And I’m sure Michelle appreciates you clarifying it.
OBAMA: In public. (Laughter.)
Everyone laughed; the debate continued. Today, however, Obama is being accused of homophobia, which strikes me as off-base.
TNR’s Alexander M. Belenky said Obama “doesn’t want anyone to get the impression that he’s on the down-low.” Lane Hudson said it was a “frat-boy moment,” adding that Obama revealed “some level of homophobia.”
My take on it was entirely different. Obama seemed to be saying that Biden’s comment might have left the impression that he got an AIDS test because he’d had sex with someone else. But why assume he was referring to a man? Isn’t it just as likely Obama wanted to “clarify” so that no one would think he’d had an affair with another woman?
The criticism seems misplaced. How did everyone else perceive the comments?