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.
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