AN UNTIMELY POLITICAL FAUX-PAS
Ostensibly there are very few people willing to say the obvious: that relative to recent political events dealing with the issue of “same-sex marriage” (or “marriage-equality” as others label it), Joe Biden and Barack Obama both messed up. And in my estimation they messed up big time.
To me the qualified silence from left-leaning columnists -in critiquing Biden and Obama- is simply another miniscule example of cowardice in politics and journalism: USA-style. I can only hope this wouldn’t come back to haunt too many moderates and progressives on the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday (after the first Monday) next November.
In politics there is a saying: “if it isn’t broken then don’t fix it”. Both Joe Biden and Barack Obama should have heeded that saying. The same-sex marriage issue has been trending positively for proponents for quite some time now. Many state courts have been favorable; even some federal (and other states) court-decisions have been surprisingly encouraging; others still, have been nebulous and/or ambiguous at the worst. Some state legislatures have been moving progressively in the same-sex direction. Only a few republican governors (like Christie/NJ) have been holding up progress on this front. So why touch the issue now?
The Justice Department of the Obama Administration had gone on record, stating that they would not defend any challenges in federal court, to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA): which “Slick Willie” (Bill Clinton) had signed into law. And remember this federal act stated unambiguously that the only legal definition of marriage in this country was strictly: an act between one man and one woman.
And hadn’t the Obama administration also changed another Clintonian policy initiative: “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”? A policy whereby homosexuals serving in the military had to fear being dismissed if professing to be gay. And hadn’t the Obama Administration done many things favorable to the LGBT political progression; even appointing openly gay people to high positions in the administration? So where was the “gay-vote” going?
I am hard pressed to conclude that there were those in the Obama re-election team who were concerned that homosexual voters -no matter what the number- were going Mitt Romney’s way.
In recent times -as older Americans died out- younger Americans have been expressing a willingness to allow same-sex marriage its day in the sun. This suggested that eventually the resistance by older heads would be overwhelmed by the openness of the younger majorities. So who in the Obama administration miscalculated all this? Barack? Michelle? Axelrod? Biden?
For those who were vacationing on Mars these past couple weeks, let me rehash events leading up to Barack Obama’s historic pronouncements recently. Vice-president Joe Biden went on an NBC television network program and glibly stated his personal position on the same sex marriage issue: that “a marriage between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman” is quite acceptable to him. Biden went to some length attempting to clarify this as being his personal position only; and not the official position of the Obama administration.
Within hours, “Obiden’s” remarks went viral. You could sense that the Obama administration was scrambling around for a meaningful response to the media inquiries; and also to the prodding, pushing and shoving from the LGBT crowd and their supporters. In the end the decision was for President Obama to come out openly in support of same sex marriage -a monumental position shift for him. After all, this was the same president who perpetually stated that as far as his religious beliefs went, marriage was an arrangement between one man and one woman. So he evolved on this issue: fine: nothing wrong with that. Many of us-myself included- have evolved on this issue.
So what’s the problem you may ask? I will tell you there are many problems with what took place here. The main one being it was a major tactical error given that the presidential election is roughly five months away. The last thing you need right now is a politicized issue not lacking for religious overtones.
Given the recent fights between the Obama administration and the Roman Catholic Church, democrats didn’t need another fight with religious over-or-undertones. Back in that fight the issues were around “birth-control”, “family-planning”, “women’s reproductive rights”, and general issues pertinent to health care and health insurance. I personally felt it was all unnecessary, but needless to say it was highly politicized. It was highly charged in a “silly season“like this one.
Before I go further, let me state that I do not believe this whole episode (from Biden to Obama) was orchestrated. I don’t buy that one. Joe Biden suffered diarrhea of the mouth one time too often: that’s all. It has happened before. There are those who claim this was all about fundraising amongst Hollywood-types. There are others who say it was about shaking out dollars from the rich members of the LGBT crowd and their supporters. They say Obama needed to compete with the unending money supply that the “Citizen’s Union” court-decision rewarded Republicans: monies which favor Republican operatives, political hit-men and ruthless tacticians: people like Karl Rove.
If so, then why place a potent issue on Rove’s trigger-finger? This is the very issue (same-sex marriage) he successfully exploited in 2004; when he and his cronies used it to heighten Republican turnout and re-elect George Bush. Have we Democrats forgotten Ohio already?
There is a perception being verbalized by the LGBT crowd which implies that the majority of people in this country support same-sex marriage: not true. Yes, it appears that some polls have been trending towards that claim; but election results show a different reality. Over the last decade, there have been thirty-five instances where issues around civil unions, same sex marriages and the like, have been placed on state ballots all across the land. The score is 33 to 2 against. The polls may be saying one thing but the election results say another. Recently North Carolinians came out against same sex marriage again; and proponents of same-sex marriage couldn’t even win a ballot-initiative in California (of all states) not too long ago.
What does that tell you?
It tells me that this is still a potent issue: a third-rail issue so to speak; one that we democrats should be careful of, when we tactically prepare for presidential elections nowadays. This is why Obama and Biden were so irresponsible. By placing this wedge-issue on the mortuary table, they have given an opening to a candidate (Romney) who was nothing short of a “dead man walking” (politically-speaking; of course).
Look; Romney is a horrible candidate: period. He was a miserable choice for republican voters. He doesn’t deserve the repugnican’s nomination, far less becoming our president. And as I warned in many a column: the republican field in this go-around was despicable; except for maybe two of the candidates (one was Jon Huntsman) to some extent.
I recently wrote a column (see my archives here) where I predicted the November presidential election wouldn’t even be close. I expected Obama to win easily. Recent developments now tell me that it will be a closer election than I initially predicted. Sure, President Obama is still the favorite -I will tell you more about that in another column- but Romney has been given an opening which the Karl Roves of this political world are sure to exploit as adroitly as they can. Clever and efficient exploitation of this issue can only lead to a surge in republican voters nationwide. If this happens in November then all bets are off to the races.
So let me tell you what my research has uncovered relative to the same-sex marriage issue.
Internationally, there are ten countries out of one hundred and ninety-four surveyed which have legalized same sex marriage or some form of civil unions for gays. On the first of April, 2001, the Netherlands started off this trend, and subsequently Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina have all joined the list. There are moves afoot to do likewise in Nepal, Columbia, Denmark and a few other countries all across the globe. It’s still a minority proposition.
In the good old US of Amnesia (USA), there are eight states -plus the District of Columbia- which have basically legalized same sex marriage.
There are 38 states where there are various restrictions on same sex marriage; of which 29 states have banned it period; and there are other states seeking to amend their constitutions to prohibit it. North Carolina has done it twice now: I guess for emphasis. In the last go around, the NC vote was roughly three to two against. Let’s not forget that there are only 50 states in the union; so where is the majority-support some polls claim? Are these polls they quote truly conclusive or convincing?
In the 2004 presidential election there were almost a dozen state initiatives on the ballot wherein same-sex marriage (or gay-rights issues) were voted on. Near all of them lost to the anti-gay forces. And this is why the recent Obama/Biden action was so irresponsible. It wasn’t necessary at this time. There is a bigger picture that they both missed.
If Barack Obama loses re-election, then the republican president (most likely Romney) is probably going to make one or two appointments to the Supreme Court. Is there any doubt that the appointee(s) will do the bidding of the conservative crowd? And did we need Rick Santorum to remind us where the conservative folks are on this issue?
If Romney wins because of this issue, then pray tell how it would be beneficial to the LGBT folks and their supporters? Couldn’t Biden and Obama have waited one more year to come out of the closet (so to speak)?
What many voters don’t know is this: there are at least 28 states wherein the November-election outcomes (presidential race) are damn near 100 per cent predictable. This means that there are about 22 states where there is some doubt as to who will win. Of these twenty-two states, there are actually a dozen or so truly up for grabs. All of these states were put further at risk by the Obama-Biden tag team’s recklessness and impetuousness.
These are just some of the states of which I speak: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Wisconsin, North Carolina (you can probably kiss this one goodbye now), New Mexico, Montana, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
And then there is the question of black voters. In a an election year where the lack of enthusiasm -especially on the part of black voters- has been noted, these recent announcements were not some kind of shot in the arm. The same can be said relative to Hispanic voters.
And then there is the question of democrats regaining the House and retaining the Senate. Any surge in republican voters could only defeat the democrats’ secondary objective: give Obama a Congress he can work with, in order to enact legislation favorable to the party’s platform.
Look; the Supreme Court will eventually deal with the issue of same-sex marriage: that’s the way political disputes are eventually resolved in this country; even if only temporarily. The best strategy has always been to stack the court with judges favorable to your point of view; and then hope they find the right language to constitutionally justify their decision(s).
That’s why presidential elections are probably -at least- a tad more important than others. Presidents nominate judges to SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States).
On this issue, the courts have been the movers and shakers more so than the legislatures. Some legislatures have moved too impede the courts, while others have moved to innovative places favorable to the LGBT crowd. It’s a contentious issue. How does it help proponents of this issue, when obstructionist republicans are elected to various state legislatures because of this Obama-Biden faux pas? It doesn’t. Even if Obama is re-elected he may have no coattails because of all this.
In a matter of days I have heard quite a few blacks say they aren’t voting for Obama in November. In a matter of days I have also seen the way the Fox News Network rail against Obama and Biden relative to this issue. All this lends credence to their ongoing narrative: Obama wants to drastically change the US culture; he also wants to change our general way of life. Sensible folks know this is bullshit; but there are lots of folks out there who actually reside in the Fox spin-zone.
To them this is all true and it makes more sense by the day. From now till the election the Fox News Network is going to beat this like a drum. Barack Obama will be pounded even more than he has been over the last five years on this network. There will be an accumulative effect: a high republican turnout in November, despite the lethargic primary turnout of recent months; especially if they smell Obama’s blood.
Expect republicans to hold on to quite a few state legislatures, in a year where they could have been in big trouble. Unless female voters step up to save the day for democrats, we would be in for another four years of republican obstructionism and extremism. At a time when we as a nation face pressing issues around the ecology, wars, rumors of wars, terrorism, poverty, homelessness, permanent high-unemployment, profound economic-decision-making, the environment, fiscal policy, health-care, education-policy, economic-policy, public-policy in general, the role of government in protecting the poor and the powerless, and so on, and so on; we now have to deal with a major distraction relative to the overall debate. We have Obama and Biden to thank for all this.
I heard Biden apologized for his role herein; but I don’t expect Obama will do likewise, since he can be arrogant at times. Remember, this is the same guy who “wants the ball in his hand when the game is on the line”. He has it now. He owns it now.
I want to believe that both Obama and Biden did all this, in attempting to mentally liberate themselves and their true inner-feelings on this issue. That’s fine for both of them from a purely psychological angle; but for democrats -tired of republican subterfuge and hardball- this opening wasn’t necessary. It was untimely.
Stay tuned-in folks. I sure hope I am wrong on this one.