Quotes of the day
posted at 10:44 pm on May 7, 2012 by Allahpundit
President Barack Obama’s ongoing evolution on the issue of same-sex marriage has ceased being only a topic of friction between him and the gay-rights community, becoming, in the dawn of the general election campaign, an early test of political character…
“What I think you are seeing now is the extent to which the White House miscalculated that they can continue to give a non-answer on what is one of the major issues of our day,” said Richard Socarides, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and senior White House adviser on gay rights. “You can evolve for a time, but they have stretched this out 18 months now.”…
“The question is, is there a risk?” said one prominent Democratic Party official. “It is not nationwide [polling] we are talking about. We are talking about Virginia, North Carolina and other swing states, and we are talking about, would Karl Rove and his team stoop to using horribly grotesque and hateful tactics … and would that peel off 10,000 votes?”
“He won here by such a narrow margin that almost anything could make the difference’’ said longtime Democratic strategist Gary Pearce, who is based in Raleigh. “I don’t blame him for being cautious. The country is also evolving, and he doesn’t want to get there too early.”…
A big reason the issue is tricky for Obama is that two of the constituencies that were pivotal to his 2008 victory – young voters and African-Americans — are at odds. While gay-rights advocates frame marriage as a civil-rights issue, many churchgoing African-Americans approach it in a religious context. In North Carolina for example, an Elon University Poll in February found that only 35 percent of voters ages 18 to 34 support a constitutional ban on gay marriage. Among black voters, the percentage supporting the ban jumped to 46 percent…
“It’s a gamble,’’ said Mileah Kroner, Elon University assistant professor of political science. “On one hand, him coming out for gay marriage could infuse the base and get young people excited, which could be in his favor. Then again, it could turn off older people, who he didn’t do particularly well with in the last election. Same with black voters, who tend to be evangelical. It’s a political calculation.’’
“The walk-back was one of the weakest moments for the administration on this issue,” said one LGBT activist. “[Biden] was crystal clear on what he was saying. People in the gay community know what’s going on, but the fact that they’re not doing a more masterful job of explaining this is a little upsetting…
Another prominent gay supporter — who attended a fundraiser featuring a who’s-who of gay donors for Obama in Florida last month — said that while the president’s refusal to express his support for gay marriage stings the community, “they know the alternative is frightening.”
Fred Sainz, the vice president of communications for the Human Rights Campaign, agreed with that premise, saying the differences between Romney and Obama are “stark and cold.”
“There’s not an alternative. We view this president as a friend,” Sainz said.
Some leading gay and progressive donors are so angry over President Obama’s refusal to sign an executive order barring same sex discrimination by federal contractors that they are refusing to give any more money to the pro-Obama super PAC, a top gay fundraiser’s office tells me. In some cases, I’m told, big donations are being withheld.
Jonathan Lewis, the gay philanthropist and leading Democratic fundraiser, is one of many gay advocates who has been working behind the scenes to pressure Obama to change his mind. When Obama decided against the executive order last month, arguing that he would pursue a legislative solution instead, advocates were furious — such a solution will never pass Congress, the executive order has been a priority for advocates for years, and the move smacked of a political cave to conservatives who will not support Obama no matter what he does.
Now these and other donors are beginning to withold money from Priorities USA, the main pro-Obama super PAC, out of dismay over the president’s decision.
[O]n this issue, the president isn’t leading. He’s following. And the gap by which he trails others in his party grows broader and sadder…
But right now, Obama could stir up a lot of counterproductive noise and passion with an emphatic position in favor of marriage equality. And while it’s the job of advocates to focus on one issue and amass their armies on a single front, it’s the job of those who govern to promote an array of concerns and serve multiple constituencies. To do any good in office, you have to be in office…
He brags about this progress, and has a right to. But he shouldn’t expect those of us who support marriage equality to find the sound of that trumpeting so very musical. It’s a tentative, incremental bleat. And it’s especially unsatisfying from a president who’s such a moving, hopeful symbol of this country’s imperfect and incomplete journey toward full respect for all its citizens, no matter their gender, race, creed or sexual orientation.
Reporters fired dozens of barbed questions and taunts. “Contorted position! . . . Why did you guys send out statements to clarify? . . . What does the word ‘evolving’ mean? . . . Is he not evolved?. . . I want you to dissect the evolution.” A fly buzzed around the lectern. Carney let out a sigh.
NPR’s Mara Liasson asked whether Obama was “too clever by half,” essentially telling voters: “I’m getting ready to change my mind.”
“His views,” Carney maintained, “are crystal clear.”
“His critics in the LGBT rights movement can also learn a thing or two about tolerance and patience. Lesson number one, can start with asking themselves the question: Are you holding the president to a tougher standard because deep down inside you don’t really trust him? And if the answer to that question is yes, perhaps the next question you should ask yourself is why?”