Monday, May 14, 2012

Obama's announcement regarding gay marriage: A gamble that paid off big

So, President Obama has decided that gay marriage should be legal. OK. But honestly, how is this a surprise? How is it as courageous a move as it's being claimed to be by LGBT activists, liberal media, people who read liberal media? This was his stance in the first place, according to news archives which have been shown several times on one station or another since he made the announcement.

From where I'm standing it simply makes sense that the President took the stand that he did. After all, his biggest supporters have always been on the left side of the aisle and have only been frustrated with him when he didn't advocate strongly enough for causes that were primarily liberal. So, why is everyone so surprised? Why is everyone hailing this as such a courageous move?

Well, yes. It does take some courage to choose a side on such a polarizing issue, especially in an election year. On TV news (and not just on MSNBC or ABC) the "courage" of this good man's decision is apparent in the fact that no other sitting president ever made such a declaration of support for gay marriage. This certainly sounds courageous when it's worded this way. But public opinion has changed dramatically in the last twenty years. In fact, opinions are more or less split regarding gay marriage, speaking statistically on a national level, with a slight advantage given to the pro-gay marriage group. So, it isn't so much a courageous move as it is a calculated risk that has proven lucrative for the president. For example, soon after his announcement George Clooney threw him a fundraiser that broke records.

And my, what a fortunate coincidence that Mitt Romney has been called out over his behavior in prep school, 47 years ago, as a teenager, toward a young man who didn't act the same as everyone else. I certainly won't defend or justify Romney's actions, because I think it was wrong.Nor will I vilify him because I wasn't a very kind kid in high school, myself. But the timing of it certainly worked to the president's advantage. Now, I'm not suggesting that the Obama Administration knew about the Romney story. But Obama and his staffers have been reaping the rewards of this press windfall.

The economy is nowhere near what Obama assured the public it would be by now, when he was campaigning in '08. What does a smart candidate do when the cold, hard numbers aren't working in his favor? He works on the emotional issues that will encourage the people to like him. And Obama's doing a bang-up job in that department. In fact, he's got that bag sewn up this year. So, as long as nothing truly catastrophic happens economically, he'll have a very healthy leg up on the GOP candidate.  Romney is much less comfortable in public than Obama; he doesn't have the connections in the entertainment industry that Obama has; he doesn't have the background of an underprivileged young man who made good like Obama. His story is quite the opposite. Privilege is exactly the word to describe Mitt Romney's upbringing and no matter how many of his current friends and acquaintances may claim that he is friendly and gracious, his money and how he makes it is exactly what most middle-class Americans despise and distrust. Add to that his habit of changing his stance on various issues that put him the hot seat during the debate season and you have a very weak candidate whose base supports him primarily because no one else could spend the money he did.

So what does all this with Romney have to do with gays' right to marry? Simply that, because Mitt was a tough sell even to his own party, and the situation isn't really improving as quickly as it needs to with less than six months til Election Day. Thus his acknowledgement of Obama's announcement regarding gay marriage, then his immediate return to a discussion of the economy.What does a smart candidate do when his opponent is more popular than he is? He starts talking about the issues he's most knowledgeable in and insists that whatever his opponent is talking about is merely distracting from the real problems of the country.

Most of Obama's most dedicated supporters are supporters of gay marriage, and a growing number of other Democrats, Republicans and Independents agree with them. All Obama had to do was wait until the right time and make his announcement when the issue was still unsettled, but the scales tipped more in his favor. I'm persuaded that his announcement wasn't so much a great act of courage on behalf of equality for everyone, as it was a shrewd political act that benefited those who were calling for equal treatment in an area of life that is important to them...and benefited the president by getting back the support of those liberal constituents that had become disenchanted with him over the course of the last few years.

Smart move, Mr. President.

1 comment: