Kerrey on School Shootings, Gay Marriage

Some other interesting bits from my interview with New School president and former Senator Bob Kerrey that didn't make it into  today's paper… 

Kerrey, a Democrat, thinks that the Virginia Tech shootings do not directly raise the question of gun control, but rather of mental health on American campuses.

"This is a largely a university problem, not a gun control problem," he said. "This is the issue of in loco parentis. We have a significant fraction of undergraduate students who are going into universities and colleges across the country who have mental health problems. Maybe one out of five that are on medication of some kind."

He said that the widespread policy of keeping of students' health problems confidential from their parents should be revisited.

"All of us in higher education are really having second thoughts about this because that's the real question," Kerrey said. "This is really about how you govern higher education. I do not think gun control is the first issue."

On the suddenly news-y topic of gay marriage, Kerrey explained how he thinks Democrats should frame the issue, and used the John Kerry 2004 campaign as an illustration of how they shouldn't. 

"I think John missed an opportunity," Kerrey said. "A woman asked him do you think people are born gay or straight, and John didn't answer that question and that it is the most important question."

Kerrey said the lesson about the gay marriage debate is that Democrats need to engage social conservatives on their ground by a clear moral argument.

"I would recommend that a candidate answer the question saying, 'Look, I think God puts people on earth gay and straight.' I would start with that. It's a religious belief."


Article continues below
More from Politics
STAR OF DAVID OR 'PLAIN STAR'?   If you thought "CP Time" was impolitic, on July 2 Donald Trump posted a picture on Twitter of a Star of David on top of a pile of cash next to Hillary Clinton's face. You'd think after the aforementioned crime stats incident (or after engaging a user called "@WhiteGenocideTM," or blasting out a quote from Benito Mussolini, or...) Trump would have learned to wait a full 15 seconds before hitting the "Tweet" button. But not only was the gaffe itself bad, the attempts at damage control made the BP oil spill response look a virtuoso performance.  About two hours after the image went up on Trump's account, somebody took it down and replaced it with a similar picture that swapped the hexagram with a circle (bearing the same legend "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!"!). Believe it or not, it actually got worse from there. As reports arose that the first image had originated on a white supremacist message board, Trump insisted that the shape was a "sheriff's star," or "plain star," not a Star of David. And he continued to sulk about the coverage online and in public for days afterward, even when the media was clearly ready to move on. This refusal to just let some bad press go would haunt him later on.
Donald Trump More Or Less Says He’ll Keep On Tweeting as President