To the Editor:
I always enjoy reading Bill Cotterell’s columns and frequently agree with him. But I think this week’s column (“Believe it or not, some topics are still private,” Aug. 29, 2023) ignores the elephant in the room: it’s DeSantis who has made transgender kids into policy issues.
He’s backed legislation that eliminates the parental choice he’s advocating for himself – if those parents embrace their transgender child.
Plus, he trots out his kids everywhere he goes, making them a part of his campaign. So, much as I think children should be left alone by the media, he’s made questions about them fair game.
There was an answer he could have offered: “I love my children and will continue to love them whatever life choices they make.” But maybe he was afraid that would make him look “woke.”
Bob Shaw, Orlando, Fla.
(Mr. Shaw is a former editor at the Orlando Sentinel and Tallahassee Democrat and has been capital bureau chief for the Miami Herald.)
Bill Cotterell responds: I generally agree. DeSantis has made his war on "woke" to appeal to the most conservative element of the GOP, I assume to get himself to the right of Trump on social issues. But I think candidates, even DeSantis, can separate their family lives from the public duties.
Personally, I would have answered that question the way Bob suggests, not defensively like DeSantis did. But that's him.
I didn't think Lawton Chiles' Prozac treatment for depression affected his work, nor did I think it hypocritical that Bob Martinez fought abortion while he'd had a vasectomy (not the same form of birth control, I know, but I remember a lot of his critics saying in 1990 that Martinez was such a good Catholic on one form of birth control but not so dogmatic about his own lifestyle).
As an alcoholic, sober since 1978, there are things I'd do differently with liquor laws. But if I were head of the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco, I'd follow the law as it's written, and could advocate for good public policy that serves 20 million Floridians, not my own position.
DeSantis has made his attitude toward trans people very clear. I think that's all the public needs to know, what he'd do with public policy. TIME's question about his children was a 'gotcha.'