President Obama announced in a televised interview last evening that he has changed his mind on same-sex marriage. He has reversed his previous stance on the matter. He now fully supports a change in American law (state by state) to allow Same-Sex marriages with full spousal rights.
Almost immediately, Democratic fund raisers and politicians rushed to announce their pride in the President and their support for his new stance. Governor Romney, the almost certain GOP candidate, hurried to disagree with Mr. Obama.
Various pundits have stepped forward to show how his change of mind will help Mr. Obama in the coming national elections. I disagree with them but no one can argue that Mr. Obama is anything other than a shrewd, off the charts intellient politician. He cannot possibly have thought he could make this announcement on such a volatile issue without serious electoral consequences. I think there are three possible explanations for why Mr. Obama would publicly announce his change of mind at this point, other than the sudden onset of madness.
Mr. Obama might have decided he wishes to be a one-term president. If so, he could scarcely have chosen a more emotion laden social issue to help him lose an election. There exist those who believe his veto of the oil pipeline from Canada to Galveston signalled his one term wish but there were solid environmental and economic reasons for putting aside the portion of the pipeline his executive order affected. I don't accept many of them but an argument could be made to delay the pipeline for some years, until America can possibly raise its own production levels.
No such arguments can be made for Mr. Obama's sudden about face on Same-Sex marriage. The portion of the electorate committed to traditional marriage is very unlikely to change its standards tand very, very likely to vote its standards on this issue. In fact, an improving economy would have to improve markedly to overcome this seeming gaffe and no such marked improvement seems on the horizon.
So, Mr. Obama may have decided he does not wish a second term as president. Someone might have urged him to advance a seemingly impossible position, take his licking and go home to Illinois. I cannot think of anything the President could do to weaken his chances more with less possibility of upside.
Mr. Obama may think this move will help him in a close election in the fall. I cannot see how his new stance will help him but it is possible Mr. Obama knows he will not receive any Reagan Democrat resurgence to the Democratice party. If you cannot get any conservative or many moderate votes, one supposes it is possible his advisors may have told him to shore up the Liberal base of the party, many of whom have expressed displeasure with the pace of Mr. Obama's reforms and outright disgust with his Centrist leanings.
If so, Mr. Obama may have chosen a social issue to remind his liberal supporters they have no place else to go in the fall. They have to vote for him or stay home. Mr. Obama may have used this social issue to give liberals a reason not to stay home, while at the same time maintaining (as he did) that this is not a federal issue.
Mr. Obama maintained in his interview that the Same-Sex marriage issue is one for the states to decide, one state at a time. In this way, Mr. Obama can appeal to States' Rights supporters, since he took Same-Sex Unions off the federal level, and still reach to the left. Mr. Obama may actually believe (or his advisors may believe) he had to do something to show a real difference between himself and Mr. Romney.
This is not the lunacy it would seem. After all, Mr. Romney enacted Romney-Care while governor of Massachusetts. He enacted mandatory, universal health coverage and made it the law of the state. Mr. Obama has not yet been as successful in his national health care legislation. Therefore, Mr. Obama may have decided he needed to show liberals and moderates why they should vote for him over Mr. Too-Much-Like-the-President Romney.
Mr. Obama may have polled likely liberal voters to see what bone he could toss them to energize them at the polls in the fall. Then, he sharply weakened the affect by promising exactly no federal action on the subject, since, as he added, Same-Sex marriage is an issue for the states to decide.
If Mr. Obama actually believes a sudden about-face on Same-Sex marriage will help his electoral chances in the autumn, he must also have decided to abandon any hope of reaching a sizable portion of the population. There will be no dearth of polling information available in the media for the next few days. See if you can decide which portion of the electorate Mr. Obama believes will not vote for him, regardless.
There is another, more chilling reason Mr. Obama may have announced his change of mind.
Mr. Obama may have honestly, sincerely changed his mind on Same-Sex marriage. In addition, the President must have also decided his new stance was worthy of announcement, regardless of the cost to his re-election campaign. If so, he is demonstrating a kind of courage and transparency not recently seen in American electoral politics.
Please understand how much I disagree with our President's new found support for Same-Sex marriage. I hate the idea. I consider his announcement an outright abomination.
Still, if he made his announcement because he really thinks his opinion matters and because he honestly changed his mind, you have to give him his due. Then, you have to decide if where you stand on the issue, and why.
I oppose Same-Sex marriages. The idea that all civil liberties automatically to all portions of the population, regardless of the effect their practice would have on the moral fiber of an entire culture, is not sustainable.
Whatever else he did, President Obama made it clear there is a difference between his policies and those of Mr. Romney. I think he made a serious electoral error and the autumn election is now rated here as "too close to call."
Opinions expressed here are mine alone.