Topic: Rob Portman
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March 19, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Experience would change public policy
After voting against gay-marriage rights, Sen. Rob Portman now supports these rights because of “personal experience” with his son who recently came out to the senator [“Striking change of heart for lawmaker on gay issue,” News, March 16].
The senator’s recent comments underscore how personal experience can suddenly alter one’s world view. They also raise an overlooked question. What would our public policy be if our leaders had been misled by some fly-by-night subprime mortgage house, if our leaders had spent time teaching in low-property-tax school districts further disabled by the Great Recession, if our leaders had sons or daughters who returned from war physically or emotionally broken?
Former Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, a known critic of government spending, supported taxpayer-funded retroactive flood insurance after Katrina damaged his and other Mississippians houses. Sen. John McCain, a national-security hawk who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, is against torture.
Experience clearly matters. Corporate boards do not turn CEO duties over to a third-grader; they prefer individuals with Ivy League MBAs. Parents take sick children to a doctor, not an accountant. I wonder what other “principled” positions our leaders would suddenly alter if they had the advantage of personal experience.
–Michael Carleton, Kirkland
March 17, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Original view was a product of ignorance
So, Republican Sen. Rob Portman changes his stance on gay marriage upon revealing that his son is gay [“GOP Sen. Portman of Ohio now supports gay marriage,” seattletimes.com, March 15]. It’s reminiscent of how Dick Cheney, of all people, became Mr. Gay Rights when his daughter came out of the closet.
The real revelation behind this is that the most staunchly conservative politician can change views in a heartbeat the moment a social issue becomes personal. Which means, of necessity, that the original view (probably shared by the overwhelming majority of conservatives) was not validly formed.
One all-too-influential party has a dangerously restrictive view of who constitutes the “worth defending” element of our national community. As we’ve seen, it’s a view born mainly in willful ignorance.
–Lew Witham, Seattle
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