Continued Reaction

Filed in National by on May 10, 2012

I have been busy this morning reading through all of the reactions from readers of TPM and Andrew Sullivan that were posted by each blog, as well as the reactions of others columnists and bloggers and opinion makers, etc. Here are a few that stood out to me.

Well, that only took a couple of hours for me to be proven wrong in my prediction that he would continue to waffle. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong in my life.

I feel the same way.

You know, I wasn’t sure if it mattered either, but here I sit, crying into my laptop. What really got me was the part about his girls, how they have friends with same-sex parents, and treating them any differently just wouldn’t make any sense to his kids. I have kids too – one of them a black boy being raised by white lesbian moms – and dammit, YES, this matters! It will make his world make more sense. Symbols DO matter, and this one is huge.

I’m by no means suggesting that the interview today makes ANY DIFFERENCE whatsoever in the larger, and more important, picture of equality. It doesn’t. It’s an interview. In an election year. However, anyone who thinks Biden spoke off the cuff this past Sunday, and this is some sort of damage control, is yet again underestimating this White House. It is far from accidental. It doesn’t appear anything “accidental” happens with this administration. Everything is calculated. And I can’t help but be turned on by that.

I also agree with that. If the President and his very good and very smart campaign team thought that this was going to lose them the election, does any one think for a moment that the roll out would have occurred? And yes, I do believe it was a planned roll out. Joe Biden is dumb like a fox. But his statement on Sunday in support of gay marriage was not a verbal gaffe, or verbal vomit as Mika put it on Morning Joe this morning. It was a carefully worded statement. No, this was a planned rollout. And they would not have done it if they thought it would disadvantage them.


Romney might make gains among culturally conservative opponents of same-sex marriage in Ohio and other Midwestern states, yet GOP campaigning on cultural issues might strengthen the president’s position with college-educated upper-middle-class voters. Drawing a sharp contrast on social issues reinforces the president’s claim to be the candidate of “enlightenment and progress” against “reaction, bigotry, and hate.” This is the kind of campaign — focused on broad generalities rather than detailed questions concerning the state of the economy, debt and deficits, etc. — that the president wants to run, and it is easy to see why.

Glenn Greenwald (whom I normally despise as a Firebagger purist, but in this case, he is right):

[T]he pressure continuously applied on Obama by some gay groups, most gay activists, and (especially) rich gay funders undoubtedly played a significant role in all of these successes. As David Sirota explained today, this demonstrates why it is so vital to always apply critical pressure even to politicians one likes and supports, and conversely, it demonstrates why it is so foolish and irresponsible to devote oneself with uncritical, blind adoration to a politician, whether in an election year or any other time (unconditional allegiance is the surest way to render one’s beliefs and agenda irrelevant).

The battle between purists and pragmatists will continue, as it should. This was a win for Obama critics yesterday, and a win for those who applied constant pressure on the Administration on this issue. But what will be foolish and irresponsible now is if those same critics do not support Obama in the fall, disappointed over the lack of a new pony they decided they wanted. As I said yesterday, the old FDR addage about telling progressive critics to go out and make him do something is true. And the critics did it. But the critics will lose all credibility if you now don’t support the President after he did want you wanted.

Emily Bazelon:

Here’s where Obama’s shift today means everything: He went on television, with all the power and resonance of his office, to give gay marriage his clear and firm endorsement. His words will play everywhere, and everyone will understand them. That wasn’t true of Eric Holder’s lawyerly letter about DOMA, however important it has been. The positions that the government takes in court matter. But the gift President Obama gave the country today matters so much more.


The statement changes everything because it locks in place for another generation the Brand ID of Democrats as the party of cultural modernity. This Brand ID fits uneasily upon the Democrats, for they are also the party of ethnic minorities and recent immigrants. With the president’s statement, however, the modernists have gained the clear upper hand. Meanwhile on the Republican side of aisle, the cultural modernists keep losing. For all that people talk about the ascendancy of the Koch Brothers within the GOP, I’d venture that Charles and David feel about same-sex marriage almost exactly as President Obama does. Yet on this one, they lose.

Frank Rich:

Obama looked like a phony and a coward each day he fudged this issue, and that his taking a strong and principled stand will have a halo effect on his leadership in general, including among voters who are ambivalent about gay marriage or opposed to it. Just look at Andrew Cuomo, whose approval rating remains high upstate and among Republicans, not just among liberals in New York City and its suburbs.

EJ Graff:

I am gobsmacked. Well, I guess I’m cynical. I had a list of reasons as long as my arm for President Obama NOT to state that he favors equal marriage. My heart is turning such cartwheels that I am not sure I can write anything cogent. […] He’s smart to do it so far ahead of the elections, so that it can be old news by then. He’s smart to attribute it to Christianity (hey, Muslims don’t let same-sex couples get married!):

…when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated.

And he’s smart to let his donors know that he does at times live by principle.

Of course, there are many questions that the pundits will be flapping on about all week. Will it hurt him in the election? How long until DOMA actually falls? How long until states start rolling back their antigay amendments, allowing their lesbian daughters and gay sons to stay there, where they grew up, instead of fleeing to coastal states and urban centers?

But I can’t think about any of that right now. Because apparently not everything in the world is politics, is it? Sometimes—just for a minute—politics is very, very personal.

Andrew Sullivan:

“Today Obama did more than make a logical step. He let go of fear. He is clearly prepared to let the political chips fall as they may.”

Howard Kurtz:

“At the risk of resorting to hyperbole, this is a political earthquake that shakes the landscape by putting a divisive culture-war issue front and center. The betting had been that while Biden and others would signal support on a wink-wink basis, Obama would play it safe and take no position until after the election. This was no slip of the tongue; Obama intended to make news when his staff hastily arranged the interview.”

Mark Halperin:

“If Republicans try to make a big deal about this, the President’s advisers believe it will distract from the economy fight and hurt the GOP with younger voters. As David Axelrod made clear the other day, the Obamans will fight back on this issue as needed. Romney now has more questions to answer than the President does on these matters, such as about same-sex benefits. There will be micro-targeting to culturally conservative voters in swing states to be sure, but don’t expect this decision to become a major campaign issue.”

David Brody:

“Obama has given his liberal base a solid 6 month-energy drink that should last them through the General Election. The question for Romney is what can he say or do with the evangelical/Tea Party base to fire them up for the General? It’s an open question. One thing’s for sure, Obama’s support of same-sex marriage just made the electoral map a little dicier.”

Harry Enten:

“The truth is that when you look at the numbers, there just really isn’t anything to suggest that support for gay marriage would be a “killer” electoral liability for Obama. In general, Americans simply don’t vote on it as a single issue, and the edges of Obama’s coalition are unlikely to be trimmed because he voices support for it.”

Greg Sargent:

“Whatever the actual impact of this in legislative terms, this is a major historical and cultural moment, and the President deserves kudos for it. Yes, he had to be pushed into taking this step, and those who hammered him ceaselessly on the issue deserve enormous credit for making this happen. But Obama himself has, in various ways, let it be known that he wants people to go out there and make him do the right thing. In this case, he responded.”

James Fallows:

“I am aware that there are various slice-and-dice cynical assessments one could make of the president’s comments today… But the fact remains that five minutes before his announcement, no one could be sure that he would take the step of saying that his personal views had changed. He did — and it was important, brave, potentially risky, and right. That should be noted. It’s a significant day.

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  1. puck says:

    “My heart is turning such cartwheels that I am not sure I can write anything cogent.”

    Okay, nobody is permitted to call me an “emo-prog” ever again for commenting on Democratic tax policy. A new bar has been set. Or maybe it’s Bulwer-Lytton time again?

  2. socialistic ben says:

    I really understand your main concern with this, DD. That it will energize the conservatives while progressives stay home and sulk about not having electric cars. (like we did in 2010) I see there to be a very dramatic difference with this “obama move” than any other, in that he didnt compromise with the bastards at all. Virtually every other accomplishment has had the republican’s taint all over it…. er um, i mean has been tainted by republicans, and has been at best sweet/shitty because of it. This is the Obama Ive been waiting for. This is the president who will do what is right and not care about how it effects him politically, because the right thing to do is the right thing to do. The great part about THAT strategy is, it is usually a good political move.
    BUt in all seriousness, for yourself, for anyone who is right now worrying about the implications a few months from now…. STOP. enjoy this landmark moment in American history. The president of the United States of America has said, clearly, that any 2 people (adults) who love each other should be considered exactly the same as any other 2 people. Im proud of my country and my president.

  3. Delaware Dem says:

    Actually Ben, my concerns were yesterday and after more reflection, I think those concerns are not that valid anymore.

    I now think this decision will have neutral affect on turnout or intensity of support. Whatever negatives there are in one group is balanced by a positive reaction in another. In fact, I now like the generational theme this election now takes on. Like I said yesterday in my post “Patience” before the President’s announcement, support for gay marriage is a generational issue. The old bigots hate it. My generation and younger love it.

    So I agree with you. This is the Obama we have been waiting.

  4. socialistic ben says:

    That’s good to know, dude. It saddened me a little to see an argument break out over it yesterday. This is a happy thing.

  5. Delaware Dem says:

    Well, what else is a blog for that for debate?

  6. socialistic ben says:

    I know, but im a silly hippie who thinks that there can be universal consensus even on a blog.

  7. Que Pasa says:

    I wonder how is this going to play in Mecca? Or in the Black Bible Belt?


    Who cares! Obama did this for a quick infusion of money and the hopes of a few extra votes in the blue states this fall, not on anything resembling principle. And you all, deep down inside, KNOW THAT! Otherwise, why didn’t he stick with his original position in favor of gay marriage in 1996?

    Seems like desperate times call for desperate “evolutions”.

  8. X Stryker says:

    Obama doesn’t need blue state votes, as he’s handily winning all of them by huge margins. From what I can see, all of the “defense” resources he can allocate to swing states like PA, IA, FL, etc. States where this will cut both ways. I understand Obama’s evolution pretty well. I didn’t support gay marriage in 1996, but I sure as hell do today. Society has changed, and I’ve grown with it, and so has Obama.

  9. Que Pasa says:


    A few extra votes in the blue states for show, thats what I meant.

    As for his “evolution”, you seem to not understand my point. Obama was ‘for it’ in 1996, partially ‘against it’ in 2004, totally ‘against it’ in 2008…and now, ‘for it’ in 2012, with the caveat that it should be up to the States. So it some kind of evolution devolution evolution? Or is he just sucking up for money, like a typical, unprincipled, unctuously hypocritical politician???

    It’s ok…you can say, ‘yes’.

  10. Rockland says:

    It took an election to change his mind….

  11. Geezer says:

    “Or is he just sucking up for money, like a typical, unprincipled, unctuously hypocritical politician???”

    Yes. But I’m surprised you can’t see that politicians sucking up for money is exactly what you get when people, real and artificial, can pour unlimited amounts into politics. Isn’t the whole market system set up on the principle that people will do things for money, and that the more you pay them the more they’ll do?