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The Politics of Saxby's Inner Child

03/22/2013 03:26 pm ET | Updated May 22, 2013

It can sometimes be hard to tell our elected officials apart from petulant schoolchildren, but this week Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss made it nearly impossible.

Asked about his fellow Republican Senator Rob Portman's newly announced support for marriage equality, Chambliss responded, "I'm not gay. So I'm not going to marry one."

If this turn of phrase sounds familiar, it's probably because you heard versions of it at least a thousand times in kindergarten. There was the endlessly clever, "I know you are, but what am I?," which turned the accuser's own words back on himself. In Senate Republican parlance, that would be, "I know you like gay people, but what am I?"

And then there was the equally witty, "If you love it so much, why don't you marry it?," hurled at anyone who professed a love for chocolate cake or the swings. Or, in the words of the esteemed gentleman from Georgia, if you love rights for gay people so much, why don't you "marry one"?

Sen. Portman caught some flack last week for only supporting gay rights after discrimination hit home to his own family. Sen. Chambliss represents the flipside of what Matt Yglesias called the "politics of narcissism." If it doesn't affect me, Sen. Chambliss is saying, it doesn't matter.

Sen. Chambliss announced this year that he will retire at the end of his current term, a decision he chalked up to "legislative gridlock" and "partisan posturing." The Senate was way too childish.