As readers of my posts and columns know, I’m no fan of political pandering.
On the other hand, Mayor Ballard’s speech to the Lambda dinner last night wasn’t even the opposite of pandering. The opposite would be some sort of “Sister Soulja” moment–a stern rebuke to someone who is generally a supporter when that person or organization steps out of line.
Ballard managed to avoid both kissing up to the crowd and telling them something they needed to hear. Instead, he delivered a speech that would have been far more appropriate at a Chamber of Commerce event. While he did say “Lambda Legal”–once–he didn’t use the words “gay” or “lesbian” at all. He didn’t talk about equality, didn’t refer to anything his administration had done or planned to do about issues the gay community finds important (or even arguably relevant). He droned on about taxes and public safety to a crowd that skews liberal on taxes and has reason to be skeptical about the use of police power.
He did include one throwaway line about understanding the importance of the arts, even though he cut arts funding drastically, so perhaps he was dimly aware that an audience of gay and gay-friendly people would have more than its share of arts supporters. Otherwise, he gave a speech that was so far from pandering, it was entirely unconnected to the concerns of his audience. Not only was it irrelevant, it wasn’t even a good speech.
The word that comes to mind is clueless.