Greg Sargent gets the leak from a Democratic strategist in the loop on what could best be described as focus-group testing to change Barack Obama’s stated values system. In the 2008 campaign, Obama opposed gay marriage while supporting civil unions and decrying discrimination, a rather safe position even in the Democratic Party. No one really believed it, though, and almost ever since taking office Obama and his team have talked about his “evolving” state of mind on the issue of gay marriage. Now it seems that Obama wants to have party honchos test out his, er, theory of evolution:
Obama’s top political advisers have held serious discussions with leading Democrats about the upsides and downsides of coming out for gay marriage before the fall election, a Democratic strategist who has discussed these matters directly with Obama’s campaign inner circle tells me.
This does not mean that it will happen, and there are plenty of reasons to assume it won’t. Indeed, it would be political malpractice if Obama’s top advisers didn’t discuss every permutation and possibility, no matter how far fetched. However, the fact that it has been discussed seriously at high levels means it’s not out of the question.
Well, sure, it’s good to get the messaging right when laying out a statement on values. On the other hand, Obama has already made a statement on these values — he supports the definition of marriage being between one man and one woman. Have those values “evolved”? If they have, then shouldn’t Obama be honest and say so? This sounds like Obama has either changed his mind, wasn’t honest before, or cares less about the issue than in leveraging it for the best political outcome.
That’s what makes this sound so ridiculous:
Those advisers are convinced that Obama will make this call based on his gut, and ultimately without regard to the fine-grained political analysis of the situation, the source says.
If that were true, he wouldn’t need to check with “leading Democrats,” or send his advisers out to do so. Obama would prepare a statement explaining his position and its evolution, which he could do with his advisers alone. Asking whether or not to do so isn’t making a “gut” call — it’s practically the polar opposite of a gut call.
Greg seems to think this could be a game changer among Democrats, who would be invigorated for the fall election “far beyond the gay community.” That’s only true if one believes Obama actually changed his mind, “evolving” or otherwise. Most people have assumed that Obama supports gay marriage personally, and that all of the talk about “evolving” thoughts were just a dodge for the sake of political expediency — and a focus-group-tested switch would just be more of the same.