I have known Kris Kobach since 1984. He was not Kansas’s Republican secretary of state back then, as he is today. Rather, he was a Harvard-bound high-school student, and I was a Georgetown sophomore. We both had won scholarships from the Washington Crossing Foundation, a fine organization in Bucks County, Pa., that helps public-service-oriented students finance college. When we first met at a Washington Crossing scholars’ reunion, Kobach and I stayed up late into the night discussing conservatism, Communism, and other relevant -isms. We have remained casually in touch and friendly ever since.
Thus, I was troubled to hear from another friend who told me that Kobach had addressed the Republican National Convention Platform Committee in Tampa and related homosexuality to drug use and polygamy. As proof, he sent me a link to a story at ThinkProgress.
I e-mailed Kobach to express my disappointment.
“I urge you not to damage yourself and hurt others by comparing homosexuality to drug use and polygamy,” I wrote Kobach. “I am sure you can say whatever you want to say without making comments like that.” I added: “I would advise you not to say things like this, which just give the other side rocks to throw at you while saddening people like me who know you are capable of so much better.”
Kobach promptly e-mailed me and argued that he had been given a bum rap by his critics.
“It’s amazing how easily people can spread lies these days,” Kobach wrote. “And it’s equally amazing how many people believe the garbage that is on the blogs. As one (real) reporter said to me recently, ‘Blogs are the CB radio of the 21st Century.’”
Kobach told me that he disagreed with an amendment by a libertarian-oriented delegate. “I expressed my objection to the second sentence in that amendment, which is, of course, a classic libertarian trope. I used to believe it when I was younger, but now that I am older and wiser I think it to be simplistic and overbroad.”
Here is what Kobach told his fellow members of the GOP Platform Committee on August 21:
I think the wording . . . I oppose this amendment. I think the wording is too broad. Especially the last sentence: “As long as there are no infringements on the rights of others, it is not the role of government to judge.” Well, our government routinely judges situations where you might regard people completely affecting themselves like, for example, the use of controlled substances, like, for example, polygamy that is voluntarily entered into. We condemn those activities even though they’re not hurting other people, at least directly. So this is worded way too broadly for inclusion in the platform.
C-SPAN 2’s recorded coverage of the Platform Committee’s deliberations has a glitch right in the middle of Kobach’s intervention. However, a transcript published by Kansas’ Lawrence Journal World fills the blanks in C-SPAN’s garbled footage.
“I did not in any way compare homosexuality to drug use or polygamy,” Kobach explained to me. “I was merely pointing out that just governments do, from time to time, prohibit behavior that does not directly harm others. But, of course, the LGBT leftists don’t let truth stand in their way. Instead, they twisted my statement beyond recognition.”
No one is very likely to confuse Kris Kobach with Barney Frank. Kobach is more a social conservative than a libertarian. And Kobach supports traditional marriage, just as President Obama did, as recently as May 8, the day before he instantly “evolved,” into a fan of gay marriage.
That said, Kobach never has struck me as a homophobe, nor as the sort of man who would equate homosexuality, polygamy, and narcotics abuse.
While it’s easy for detractors to conflate resolutions, amendments, and statements on controversial issues — Kris Kobach did not say what his critics say he said.