Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Power To Demand: Gay Marriage Edition

Image credit: Parody by Cujo359 (See NOTE)

Once again, it's time to belabor the obvious. Last Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden had this to say on one of the news talk shows:

GREGORY: You’re comfortable with same-sex marriage now?

BIDEN: Look, I am Vice President of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same exact rights. All the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that. [...] I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has done so far. People fear that is different and now they’re beginning to understand.

VP Joe Biden comes out for marriage equality on Meet the Press; yanked back by Axelrod

Why did he say this? It could have been an off-the-cuff answer, but I doubt it. These days, it's rare for an official at Biden's level to just say something that's not in keeping with what his party leaders want him to say. In this case, the party leader in question would be President Obama.

The next day, Greg Sargent wrote this in his column at the Washington Post:

Some leading gay and progressive donors are so angry over President Obama’s refusal to sign an executive order barring same sex discrimination by federal contractors that they are refusing to give any more money to the pro-Obama super PAC, a top gay fundraiser’s office tells me. In some cases, I’m told, big donations are being withheld.

Top Obama donors witholding money over executive order punt

He went on to note that all the prevarication coming from the White House Press Secretary following Biden's Sunday comments didn't help matters. By Monday evening, it should have been pretty clear to the Obama campaign that what Pam Spaulding called the "gAyTM" wasn't spitting out the cash as it had been.

Not too surprisingly, the President "evolved" quickly and said this yesterday:

"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that 'don't ask, don't tell' is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married," Obama told [ABC News reporter Robin] Roberts in an interview to appear on ABC's "Good Morning America" Thursday.

President Obama Affirms His Support for Same Sex Marriage

Whether this actually results in any actions of any consequence by the Obama Administration remains to be seen, but it's pretty clear that they're nervous. Why are they nervous? Only for the obvious reasons, which I've spelled out many, many, many times in the past:

Politicians won't do anything they don't want to do, unless it's clear that they must.

When your support for a politician is unconditional, he has no reason to do what you want him to do. It's only when they have to earn your support that they will actually try to do so. Like everyone else, they aren't going to do things they don't want to do if they don't have to.

This is why anyone who thinks that refusing to support a politician like Obama, who has done little for his base, and insulted them for expecting anything more, is some trivial exercise in "making a point" is a damn fool. If progressives don't "make a point" that the politicians who want their support need to earn it, they won't get what they want. Ever.

Yes, I sound like a broken record here. That's because progressives are slow learners. I'm sure I'll be writing this again in the coming days, many more times.

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