Published on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 11:14
Category: Links National
Authors: Politics from The NationAs soon as President Obama endorsed gay marriage last week, the principles have been mixed with the politics. And that’s actually a good thing.
On Tuesday, the political class fixated on a new poll showing that almost 70 percent of Americans think politics drove Obama’s decision. It’s the kind of data point that politicos love—nevermind that it’s a methodologically flawed snapshot of a guess at someone else’s motivations. Even the New York Times, which commissioned the poll, seemed to agree. The Grey Lady plopped its story about evolution skepticism on page A17. No matter, it was the Internet’s top political story by 11 am.
Conservatives are declaring that Obama’s move has “backfired,” while many Democrats keep straining to find a genuine conversion—one blogger reacted to the Times poll by crediting Obama for “a developmental kind of flip-flopping”—“building, growing, and expressing more nuance and political clarity as the years roll by.” This kind of debate misses the larger point.
If the president did endorse gay marriage “for politics”— beacause it’s increasingly popular and decreasingly toxic —that in itself marks tremendous progress for the nation. Our political discourse is so driven by personality, however, it seems ordinary to plumb the