Friday, May 11, 2012

Log Cabin Democrats

    One gets the sense from the Obama campaign's response to the President's announcement regarding same-sex marriage that the whole thing was like a surprise party gone wrong.  Preparations have been under way behind the scenes for months, perhaps years; the President has on more than one occasion issued unequivocal support for traditional marriage; then at other times, he gave hints that perhaps something was afoot.  But on Sunday, Joe Biden leaned too heavily on the closet door and came stumbling out into the living room.  Surprise!
    Whether or not Biden's slip was part of the plan (a matter of some debate,) within hours if not minutes of the President's interview with ABC's Robin Roberts, the Obama campaign began to release a torrent of tweets on their Twitter account, blog entries on barackobama.com, fund raising emails, and even YouTube videos proclaiming the end of Evolution - the President had arrived at the highest form of same-sex marriage positions.
    But has he?  Even though the President's supporters let fly with a million dollars in new campaign contributions almost overnight, many commentators on both sides of the political divide are unconvinced.  Rush Limbaugh spent a good deal of time on his show Thursday explaining that nothing has changed.  Everyone already knew President Obama supported same-sex marriage anyway, and his announcement on Wednesday was nothing more than rhetoric - his administration has committed to no actions to bring about the end goal.  He wants to leave the decision "up to the states," which is in itself problematic given his administration's stand on the Defense of Marriage Act.  The President's supporters are certainly used to empty rhetoric by now, but the "historic" nature of the moment seemed to have once again trumped the less promising reality.  It is even likely the President timed his coming out to follow the drubbing same-sex marriage took in North Carolina in order to capitalize on the fury its supporters felt.  The lower the low, the higher the high.
    But once the euphoria wears off, how will the President's followers view what the President himself was quick to cast as "history" being made?  It has occurred to me Obama’s gay marriage stance sounds an awful lot like Lincoln’s oft criticized letter to Horace "Go West, Young Man" Greeley.  President Lincoln wrote to Greeley in an effort to explain that as President, saving the Union took precedence over all other considerations, including slavery, regardless of his personal feelings.  Critics have tried to paint Lincoln as weak on slavery based on this letter despite the fact that soon after he wrote the letter, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves and paid for it with his life a few short years later.
    The modern LGBTers see themselves as the modern day slaves, oppressed by society much like blacks in the days of Lincoln.  Frankly, I find the equivalence repugnant and silly, but for purposes of comparison, let's see what the President was really saying in his announcement on Wednesday.  With apologies to Abraham Lincoln, I have slightly altered the wording of his letter (Lincoln's original words are italicized) to fit the current controversy in which President Obama finds himself enmeshed:
As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.  If I could save my presidency without gay marriage I would do it, and if I could save it by gay marriage I would do it; and if I could save it by allowing some gays to marry and some to not marry I would also do that. What I do about gay marriage, and LBGT people, I do because I believe it helps to save my presidency; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save my presidency. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.
I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men and women every where could marry whichever sex they choose.
President Obama's supporters have often characterized him as a modern-day Lincoln.  On Wednesday, he played that role, but in their interpretation of Lincoln, in the least admirable way.  As it becomes clear in the coming months that the president will issue no Emancipation Proclamation of his own, perhaps those supporters will recognize the hard truth that while both Lincoln and Obama hail from Illinois, the current president is just another Chicago politician after all.

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