Via the Examiner, I understand why he punted here. His retort to Reid’s tax-evasion smear last night was that it’s an obvious, grotesque attempt to hand the media a new distraction from Obama’s record. He just got back from a foreign policy trip/photo op that was also submerged in distractions, most notably his Olympics comments in London and his aide’s “kiss my ass” comments to the press in Poland. He’s just begun pushing a more positive message keyed to his biography to convince undecideds that he’s up to the job. The last thing he wants right now is another distraction wrapped around his ankles, particularly on a day when the news is about the latest disappointing jobs report.
Given that the Chick-fil-A question here was packaged with another question about Bachmann and the Muslim Brotherhood, he had two dilemmas. One: If he weighs in on either, that’s a story and now suddenly he’s being asked about gay marriage and Islamism instead of jobs for the middle class. If you want a candidate who’s more interested in culture-war issues than economic growth, try Romney 2008. Two: If he weighs in only on Chick-fil-A, the easier of the two topics, then there’ll be a separate story on why he specifically ducked the question about Bachmann and he’ll hear it from her supporters and from the media for dodging. He probably figured he was better off playing it safe (as usual) and passing on both. Hey — if you wanted a nominee who’d inch out on the highwire to answer any question put to him, you should have nominated Newt.
Still, hurts to know that even a tool like Mike Bloomberg is capable of offering a righteous answer on CFA when called on to do so:
Critics trying to shut Chick-fil-A because its CEO opposes gay marriage are undermining the very essence of the Constitution, Mayor Bloomberg declared today in a stirring defense of the embattled fast food chain.
“It isn’t the right thing to do and it isn’t what America stands for,” Bloomberg said on his weekly WOR radio show. “And those people who don’t like (Chick-fil-A) don’t understand their rights were protected by people who took a difficult position in the past and stood by it. They stood up so everybody else would be free.”…
“What’s for sure is that government cannot in the United States, in America, under the Constitution, be run where you have a litmus test for the personal views of somebody when they want something in the commercial world.”
Barney Frank also managed to say a word against government discrimination towards Chick-fil-A. Ah well. Maybe Mitt will get another question about this tomorrow and say something about free speech even if he ends up avoiding the subject of gay marriage. Speaking of which, enjoy the second clip below. Not sure what’s gotten into Stewart lately, but this is a rare week during which most of his big hits have been at the expense of Democrats. Exit quotation via Mediaite: “Pretty sure you can’t outlaw a company with perfectly legal business practices because you find their CEO’s views repellant. Not sure which amendment covers that, but it’s probably in the top 1.”
Update: Evidently the “evolution” is over:
Obama, already in favor of gay marriage, has little to gain by weighing in against a private company that operates primarily in red states on an issue that has already inflamed social conservatives. He has treaded lightly on the issue on the campaign trail, touting the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy but avoided new calls for legalizing gay marriage since announcing he supported it in May.
Several officials in Obama’s White House and campaign did not respond Friday to requests for comment about Chick-fil-A. And there’s reason for the president to keep the issues away from the center of his reelection campaign. Obama can’t afford to alienate religious conservatives in the black community or give blue-collar Democratic whites in Ohio and Virginia another reason to vote against him.
Not a word from the president of the United States in defense of a business owner’s right to hold the political views he prefers without fear of government retribution?