Take a listen to this clip from ABC’s full interview with Barack Obama on same-sex marriage. When Robin Roberts pressed Obama about whether he was angry at Joe Biden for forcing the President’s hand on the issue, Obama says that Biden “got out a little over his skis” on the topic, but that he doesn’t have any hard feelings about it. That, however, isn’t the big takeaway here:
I had already made a decision that we were going probably take this position before the election and before the convention. He probably got out a little bit over his skis, but out of generosity of spirit.
Mull that one over for a little bit. For months, the White House has claimed that Obama’s thoughts on the issue were “evolving,” but that he didn’t have his mind made up. That lasted through Tuesday, including two days in which the White House tried to argue that Biden hadn’t actually endorsed legalizing same-sex marriage and that his position wasn’t different from the President’s.
Now we discover — from Obama himself — that he’d made up his mind to change his position some time ago. Rather than honestly express that flip-flop in a timely manner or at least acknowledge the change when asked directly, though, Obama and the White House essentially lied about it for a while — at least on Monday and Tuesday, and presumably for a while prior to Biden’s statement on Sunday. Apparently, Obama was satisfied until Sunday to have the White House keep right on misleading people through to the convention, too. Instead of taking a principled stand, Obama wanted time his pander for the most politically opportune time, even if that meant continuing to fib about his position.
And for all of those who cheered this flip-flop, here’s a question: wouldn’t it have been more effective in North Carolina had Obama made this announcement before Amendment One went to the polls? According to Obama himself, he’d already changed position on same-sex marriage. An announcement last week or the week before that, with a personal plea to African-American voters, might have made a difference. Instead, Obama hid, the White House fibbed, and Amendment One won easily in a state that Obama carried in 2008. Regardless of whatever else this might be called, leadership isn’t among the terms that come to mind.