To borrow a phrase from the president, let me be clear: I'm not bothered by President Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage. I am bothered by the fact that we're ignoring the motivation behind its timing. So let's call it what it was: a masterful display of political expediency, for the sake of adulation and the almighty dollar.
For example, study this tweet a moment:
This tweet and its accompanying photo, from Barack Obama's official account, are representative of this president's unnerving tendency to canonize himself for his decisions or positions. "History," it says, alongside a photo of the president's face captioned with his newly "evolved" position on the matter. The Weekly Standard once published what is essentially a case study on his self-love, and as WSJ's James Taranto tweeted, it's worth considering that "sheer vanity" drove his decision to endorse same-sex marriage. In short, the man is known for having an ego. The fact that his camp felt the need to hammer home his endorsement as "history-making" reinforces the fact that this was a chance to remind us of just how great and brave this president is. We know this because he told us himself.
But a chance to pat himself on the back again wasn't the only factor that drove the timing of the announcement. No, just this week the Washington Post published a few accounts of the political pressure for him to do so. Certain major Obama donors have a highly vested interest in this issue, and were threatening to withhold their considerable fundraising power if he didn't make the endorsement, and make it right quick.
A review of Obama’s top bundlers, who have brought in $500,000 or more for the campaign, shows that about one in six publicly identify themselves as gay. His overall list of bundlers also includes a number of gay couples who have wed in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage was legal.
“It’s a very important constituency,” said Los Angeles attorney Dana Perlman, a top Obama bundler who is helping organize a 700-person LGBT fundraiser for the president on June 6. “The community for the most part is wholeheartedly behind this man.”
But that relationship was put to the test this week after Vice President Joe Biden said he was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex unions. The remarks led to mounting pressure on Obama to also shift his position on gay marriage, which he had previously characterized as “evolving.”
Some liberal gay donors had threatened to withhold contributions over Obama’s stance on gay marriage as well as his administration’s decision to shelve an executive order banning sexual-identity discrimination by federal contractors.
Now, I'm not here to question the sincerity of his support for same-sex marriage. As Guy pointed out yesterday, Obama has gone back and forth on this issue through the years. I'd imagine he's always been fine with same-sex marriage, but again, political expediency dictated his stance on the issue as he rose through the ranks.
How he feels about the issue is not the point; the point is, it's important to recognize why he chose to make the endorsement now. And it's not because he "felt in his heart" he had to, or because he thought of his daughters, or because he was just going to burst if he didn't share his "evolved" stance with the world as soon as possible. No, he endorsed same-sex marriage yesterday -- as opposed to later in the summer, or after the election -- because he desperately needs the money that he was about to lose. (Those damn SuperPACs, right?!)
Update: For further proof that we must take his endorsement of same-sex marriage with a grain of salt, consider the following two stories.
-The White House isn't pushing to include gay rights as part of the Democrats' campaign platform for the 2012 elections:
"Well, party platform issues are for the party to decide," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said when asked if Obama would call for the repeal of DOMA and endorsement of pro-gay marriage language in the party platform. "That process is underway, and I refer you to the DNC on the question about the platform."
-He has given no indication of willingness to sign an executive order that "would prohibit discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity." No, he "has refused -- and continues to refuse -- to sign it." For someone who's all about marriage equality, that seems like a pretty basic reform to support. However, the president walks the fine line of pleasing his donors and, of course, not alienating swing states like Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina, which have banned gay marriage. What's that they say about please all of the people, all of the time?