Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Obama sets a clock ticking on gay marriage

In this afternoon's press conference, Obama made it very clear that he is gearing up to give way on his nominal opposition to gay marriage:
     With respect to the issue of whether gays and lesbians should be able to get married, I’ve spoken about this recently.  As I’ve said, my feelings about this are constantly evolving.  I struggle with this.  I have friends, I have people who work for me, who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions.  And they are extraordinary people, and this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about.

     At this point, what I’ve said is, is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have.  And I think -- and I think that’s the right thing to do.  But I recognize that from their perspective it is not enough, and I think is something that we’re going to continue to debate and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward.
How can you 'continue to wrestle' when you haven't left yourself a leg to stand on? What would Obama have us think he says to those gay friends who don't think his support of civil unions is enough?  This is someone not even trying to hide that there's nothing behind this stance but political expedience.

Were Obama secretly recording his thoughts about his presidency as it unfolds, as Bill Clinton did with Taylor Branch (and who knows, maybe he is), perhaps he would say about his stance on gay marriage something akin to what Clinton said regarding his continuation of the Cuban embargo: ""Clinton agreed with FDR that there were times when embracing a farsighted goal could be wrong, even in principle,because the reaction would undermine a leader's strength for other causes" (The Clinton Tapes, p. 301).

Obama will come out for gay marriage when he judges that doing so will not undermine a significant (or unaffordable)  measure of "strength," i.e., political capital. 

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