Friday, May 11, 2012

Obama's Wily Maneuver on Same-Sex Marriage


Motor scooter Obama
I sense that President Barack Obama made a very wily move in the effort to get himself re-elected by coming out publicly in favor of same-sex marriage in an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts. I don't think it's any coincidence that the announcement came almost exactly six months before the November Presidential election. Nor any coincidence that his statement came just before he was to attend a lucrative fundraiser with Hollywood stars hosted by actor George Clooney. Nor that the statement precedes a commencement address that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is scheduled to deliver on May 12 at Liberty University, a bastion of higher learning for evangelical Christians in Lynchburg, Virginia, founded by the late televangelist Jerry Falwell. Will Romney take the bait and make some remarks about marriage being only between a man and a woman? It is also pertinent to note that recent polls show that 50% of Americans support marriages of gays and lesbians.

Hooray! Obama has reinvigorated his base with this declaration of support for the rights of gays and lesbians as also, at long last, he is talking tougher on foreign policy and about the intransigent Republican-dominated Congress, particularly the Republican majority House of Representatives. Although there was some suspicion that Obama's hand was forced by remarks in support of same-sex marriage by Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday's "Meet the Press." But Biden's remarks were pre-recorded on the Friday before the airing of "Meet the Press" and not an ad-lib. It seems likely therefore that this was not another case of "Loose-Lips Biden" but rather that the two statements were calculated to be made at this very strategic moment.

In contrast, Romney has had a hard time courting the Republican base. Evangelical conservatives are lukewarm on him, partly because of his Mormonism, and they probably would have preferred Rick Santorum or some other rightie with better religious and conservative credentials. In fact, due to his discomfort with those right wing social issues, Romney would rather be talking about the economy and not social issues at all, because he knows he has an advantage in economic areas... or at least his advisers seem to think that's where he is strongest, emphasizing his business and management experience at the expense of putting a spotlight on his background as the moderate governor of Massachusetts where he passed into law a health care system that critics label "Romneycare" and that served as the model for Obama's health care mandate excoriated as "Obamacare" by conservative critics.

At last, Obama is standing for something. A very wise move because I do not believe the "Hope and Change" battle cry of 2008 will work this time. He has not exactly delivered on that pledge of bringing "Hope and Change" to Washington and the nation.

It's also good because it's not clear what Romney stands for other than he wants to replace Obama and can sing "America the Beautiful" badly. He seems to be an awkward cipher of a businessman. The same man who flunked the chance to stand up to right-wing radio blowhard Rush Limbaugh over the broadcaster's disgraceful remarks about Georgetown Law Center student Sandra Fluke after her testimony to Congress when he called her a prostitute, and who condoned the hushing up by his campaign of Richard Grenell, an openly gay spokesman on foreign policy, leading to that aide's resignation less than two weeks after he had been hired by the Romney campaign. (A source told CNN that "Grenell was told on several occasions not to speak on the campaign’s conference calls with reporters. . .") Similarly, Romney did not correct a member of public who recently asked him a question and remarked that President Obama should be tried for treason -- his whiff on that being in stark contrast to John McCain's reprimand to a woman during the 2008 campaign who impugned Obama as a terrorist. It's not certain what Mitt Romney stands for. He has demonstrated time and time again that he has no backbone. Arguably he does not deserve the chance to be President of the United States. Is the cover of the latest cover of the New Yorker a portrait of Romney?

New Yorker Cover

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