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Ain't no such thing as half-way panderers

By Dylan Matthews

It's somewhat funny that Obama's comments at yesterday's blogger meeting haven't gotten more attention, given that he as much as said that he'll come out in favor of marriage equality at some point in the future. Here's the money graph:

"I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine. And I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships. I have staff members who are in committed, monogamous relationships, who are raising children, who are wonderful parents. And I care about them deeply. And so while I’m not prepared to reverse myself here, sitting in the Roosevelt Room at 3:30 in the afternoon, I think it’s fair to say that it’s something that I think a lot about."

The "I'm not prepared to reverse myself here" line is the real kicker. Anyway, I suspect this is flying under the radar because everyone more or less assumes Obama's opposition to same-sex marriage is just for show. He backed it as a state Senate candidate in 1996, and it's hard to believe he was honestly persuaded to oppose it during the same 14 years that the rest of the country came around to the idea.

More broadly, this is as good evidence as any that, just as a matter of self-interest, politicians shouldn't take positions out of political expediency if they are not going to really commit to the lie. If Obama had started making social conservative arguments about the value of traditional marriage, then maybe some same-sex marriage opponents would come around. It'd be unfortunate, but it'd at least work politically. And if he had straightforwardly supported marriage equality from the start, gay activists and base liberals would have been more enthusiastic. But as it was, marriage equality supporters thought he was dishonest and cowardly, opponents thought he was dishonest and radical, and everyone ended up disappointed.

-- Dylan Matthews is a student at Harvard and a researcher at The Washington Post.

By Dylan Matthews  | October 28, 2010; 11:20 AM ET
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No, if he'd talked about gay marriage, then we'd be talking about gay marriage instead of economic issues. Economic issues are always, always, always better for democrats to talk about. Even though the economy sucks, as a canvaser, I meet a lot of folks who say they are socially conservative but will still vote for the democrat. It sure as hell ain't because of his pro-choice, pro-gay rights stances. Supporting gay rights "on the down low" is a perfectly valid strategy for democrats which I believe, on the balance, is good for gay rights.

Posted by: theamazingjex | October 28, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

"he as much as said that he'll come out in favor of marriage equality at some point in the future."

Pretty classic pandering statement, if you ask me.

If a politician can't say that he supports something publicly today, but might in the future, it's just a brush-off. And about your wondering why:

"Obama's comments at yesterday's blogger meeting haven't gotten more attention,"

It's because most progbloggers know he's just pandering. Not because they missed it. Geez, how dumb do you think we are??? Just because you're an 8-5 blogger...

Posted by: jc263field | October 28, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

"Just because you're an 8-5 blogger..."

Um... that wasn't fair. I missed the byline, thought it was an EK post.

Posted by: jc263field | October 28, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

This administraton has no interest whatsoever in the social agenda of the left. Only in the economic one, because that's where the money is, that's where you can create policies of confiscation. There's no money in marriage equality. Is there?

Posted by: truck1 | October 28, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse


The man's a product of an inter-racial couple who would have been bared from getting married in many states in the USA.

"Evolve?" The man's a mulatto. Sure glad I didn't vote for Brand Obama in 2008.

Onward to full civil and marriage equality rights in 21st century America.

Cheers, Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace,
Red Studio Farm, Washington, CT USA.

Posted by: cornetmustich | October 29, 2010 5:27 AM | Report abuse

PS: Kudos to CT for supporting marriage equality since 2008.

(should read "barred")

Joe Mustich, JP,
Red Studio Farm, Washington, CT USA.

Posted by: cornetmustich | October 29, 2010 5:31 AM | Report abuse

mobb deep. nice.

Posted by: rodxyz | October 29, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

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