I'm Underwhelmed

May 9, 2012 - 4:23 pm
Irradiated by LabRat
Comments Off on I'm Underwhelmed

So President Obama has gone ahead and come out in support of same-sex marriage.

One would think I’d be pleased about this, since I’m also in favor, but I’m not especially. I AM pleased that it is possible to have a sitting President who is in favor, and view that as positive progress.

You could characterize my overall lack of other forms of pleasedness as personal distaste for Obama, which is probably not entirely untrue, but I note that a lot of same-sex marriage advocates have had pretty much exactly the same reaction as I have: that this is a nakedly opportunistic political calculation in an election year, and not a statement of intent or meaningful support.

Basically, it goes like this: liberals saw him as tepid in his support of gay rights, conservatives saw him as secretly supporting gay marriage no matter what he said, and moderates saw him as a waffler. He had nothing left politically to gain from maintaining a pretense of opposing it, and the political math was better to look like he was taking a firm position of some kind given that the people who’d be legitimately put off by it are mostly lost causes at this point, whereas younger voters who see gay rights as their generation’s civil rights struggle would be very much energized.

Having someone who is secretly in favor of your side of an issue is exactly like having someone who doesn’t support it. Having someone who is now in favor of your issue but supports the states deciding it (as he was careful to qualify) is having someone who supports the status quo. While it’s nice he’s not going to actively roll back progress made, it’s not exactly helpful either. Even to the extent that being publicly out in favor is nice for generating support/enthusiasm, it would have been a hell of a lot more useful BEFORE North Carolina decided to write a ban on even so much as the possibility of civil unions or domestic-partner benefits into its constitution.

Having someone powerful in your corner who’ll do exactly as much to help you as his aides calculate is politically beneficial is not that much of a warm fuzzy feeling.

No Responses to “I'm Underwhelmed”

  1. bluntobject Says:

    Funny, Obama was doing the too-little-too-late dance in 2008 (viz. California Prop 8) and 2010 (viz. DADT repeal) as well. My guess is that he’s personally a bit of a homophobe, but clever enough to recognize that he’ll never be able to make that a political plank. Which is progress, I suppose.

    GOProud on the announcement:

    It is good to see that after intense political pressure that President Obama has finally come around to the Dick Cheney position on marriage equality.


  2. LabRat Says:

    Blunt- I feel about the same. I’ve always gotten the vibe off him that gay people squick him out a little bit. Which, actually makes me respect him a little bit IF his stance is even remotely genuine.

    And I wish I’d come up with that particular sting.

  3. Old NFO Says:

    Day late and a dollar short (Again)… So will we hear I was for it, before I was for it???

  4. DaddyBear Says:

    I’d have given credit for taking a brave stand if he’d done this in 2008 or 2009. Now, I have to agree with you that it’s a cheap political ploy to shore up a constituency that has been less than happy with his performance.

  5. P-Ry Says:

    I didn’t like Obama’s nakedly insincere stance on gay marriage either, but I disagree with this:

    “Even to the extent that being publicly out in favor is nice for generating support/enthusiasm, it would have been a hell of a lot more useful BEFORE North Carolina decided to write a ban on even so much as the possibility of civil unions or domestic-partner benefits into its constitution.”

    That amendment was passed by a huge margin. Obama voicing support for gay marriage probably wouldn’t have helped that much. The result of the vote would’ve been disappointing no matter what, so I’d just as soon have this good news untarnished by bad.

    What makes you think Obama’s homophobic, Labrat/Old NFO/assorted randoms? He certainly could be, I guess. He was for gay marriage before he was against it, though.

    How do you quote things?? Very bad at commenting, I guess.

  6. anon Says:

    He also timed it to steal the primary spotlight from Romney.

    Reading about the recent elections in Greece and France really makes me sad. Sad because here in the U.S., we don’t have any equivalent “throw the bastards out” options. We’re allowed to choose two different color palettes for the same exact evil. Our state is all hollowed out and completely illegitimate.

  7. perlhaqr Says:

    Does Obama ever do anything without calculating out every last little grain of it? I read an article recently talking about how he had a series of memos drafted that would have dumped the responsibility for the op in the lap of someone else (CNO, maybe?) if the Bin Laden takedown had gone poorly.

    Whatever happened to “The buck stops here”?

    So, it seems only obvious that he’d wait until he was essentially pushed into taking a stand by his VP, to actually take a stand. And that it would be so thoroughly boneless a stand at that.

  8. wrm Says:

    I heard it on the radio this morning and my immediate reaction was “Holy sh!t is he *that* desperate?”

    (My president is black *and* has four wives but he’s not overly religious nor does he play golf all the time so I think we’re better off in that respect at least…)

  9. Kristopher Says:

    wrm: A felon in a West Virginia jail put himself on the state primary ballot as a candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination as a joke … and won 40% of the Democrat vote there.

    Yea, Obama is getting desperate.

  10. Squid Says:

    Come out for gay marriage, collect cash from gay donors, backtrack on gay marriage, collect votes from Labor and black churches. It’s as depressing as it is predictable.

  11. JFM Says:

    I’m underwhelmed as well. If he had come out and said something like “We need to get Government out of Marrige so that people can marry as they like.” I might have had to re-think my politics. But as we all know nothing like that would ever happen-from either side.

  12. Tam Says:


    That amendment was passed by a huge margin.

    While it still may have passed, it would have done so by a lesser margin were this a year when the Dem presidential primary was in play.

    As it was, most of the people at the polls that day were there to pull a lever for Romney, Gingrich, or Santorum. The chance to do some gay-hatin’ while they were in the booth was just an added bonus.

  13. LabRat Says:

    North Carolina is as much a university state as it is a rural state. College students are notoriously low-turnout voters, and also possibly the single most gay rights-friendly demographic in the country. It would have made an impact.

    It probably still would have passed, but it irritates me the dude couldn’t be bothered enough to even make the gesture of support in time.

    As for his alleged homophobia, I’ll own that could very easily be me entirely projecting because I don’t much like the man. He’s just always seemed uncharacteristically uncomfortable talking about the subject to me.

    Being for gay marriage as a far-left Democrat in 1996 was as convenient a position for him then as being against it was in 2008…

  14. Kristopher Says:

    I am amused that it took this long for Obama to catch up to Vice President Cheney’s position on gay marriage …

  15. Ted N Says:

    He’ll fight for an issue as long as he can see fundraising dollars coming in. So classy…

  16. Jake Says:

    Of course, he was sure to clarify in his statement that it was his “personal” opinion. Meaning that while Barack Obama (claims he) supports gay marriage, that does not necessarily mean that President Obama supports it. In other words, it’s nothing but lip service.

    I even pointed that out on one of HRC’s multitude of Facebook posts, but strangely enough my comment seems to have disappeared down a memory hole.

  17. Matt G Says:

    Given that the previous President actually called for an amendment banning gay marriages, I have to admit that it is fairly impressive that the world has changed enough in that time that it is politically good sense for a President to finally come out in favor of gay marriage.

    If the Republican party had a lick of sense, it would shrug, ignore that issue, and say, “Back to the budget. How can we shrink it?” But they won’t. Which is why, barring a HUGE game-changing catastrophe, Barry will be sworn in again next January. :(