Remember, his base had been looking forward to this speech as the moment when he might finally finally finally confirm what everyone suspects by admitting that he supports gay marriage. The stars were aligned: It was an LGBT event, so the crowd would have been ecstatic. The New York legislature’s on the brink of approving a gay marriage bill, so the dramatic timing would have been spectacular. And his aides reportedly have been debating whether he should finally declare his true position, so the expectations for tonight were understandably high. And yet … he just couldn’t do it. I honestly though he might, although that was silly of me in hindsight. This guy just finished short-circuiting a war for purely electoral reasons; why would he then turn around and alienate seniors and black Democrats by suddenly embracing gay marriage? Makes no sense. Can’t believe I thought there was a chance. Ah well.
That said, you owe it to yourself to watch these two clips, not because you’ll learn anything but because you’ll be watching a B.S. artist at the very top of his game. Check out how close he gets to endorsing gay marriage without ever quite endorsing it. All the rhetoric about equality and discrimination and progress and change that would have seemed impossible a few years ago sounds like a prelude to the big announcement — but he never quite arrives there. He gets raucous applause for saying “gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country,” but that’s an endorsement of civil unions, not the big M, and no doubt he’d spin it that way if a voter ever confronted him about it. The second clip is an even lamer dodge: When he finally gets around to mentioning the New York bill, the best he can do is congratulate the locals for taking up the issue and having an ol’ fashioned public debate about it because, hey, that’s what democracy is all about. It reminded me of his non-answer about the Ground Zero mosque way back when. The issue at the time was, “Should they or shouldn’t they build it?” Obama’s take: “They have a constitutional right to build it.” Which is super, but conspicuously doesn’t answer the question. Tonight the question was, “Should or shouldn’t New York legalize gay marriage?” Obama’s take: “Democracy is good.” Present. And yet the crowd loved him, despite his electorally-driven refusal to lead on their pet issue. Remember the time he compared himself to LeBron? This is a triple-double in winning votes while saying basically nothing. Click the images to watch.