May 10, 2012 · 0 Comments
[Picture above: Same-Sex Marriage Protest Obama, 2009]
By Michael McGehee:
It didn’t take long for sensible people to fall all over themselves with praise for President Obama today.
According to today’s New York Times Page One story, “Obama Endorses Same-Sex Marriage, Taking Stand On Charged Social Issue,” the president endorsed same-sex-marriage on Wednesday “completing a wrenching personal transformation on the issue.”
Several of Obama’s aides described the scenario for the Times:
that quick decision and his [Obama's] subsequent announcement in a hastily scheduled network television interview were thrust on the White House by 48 hours of frenzied will-he-or-won’t-he speculation after Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. all but forced the president’s hand by embracing the idea of same-sex unions in a Sunday talk show interview.
Naturally, Mitt Romney, his Republican “opponent,” has to contrast himself by taking the opposite stand. According to the Times, “Hours before the president’s announcement, Mr. Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, restated his opposition to same-sex marriage in an interview with KDVR-TV, a Fox News affiliate in Colorado.”
When it comes to politicians and electoral politics we have decades of experience to draw from. Mitt Romney has lied, flip-flopped and spoken out of both sides of his mouth on many issues, as readers of NYT eXaminer will know. So when Obama says he supports same-sex-marriage, it should be taken with a grain of salt.
For example, within the last month, and in regards to President Obama and the LGBT community, the New York Times published Jackie Calmes’ article “Obama Won’t Order Ban on Gay Bias by Employers,” telling Times readers that, “President Obama disappointed and vexed gay supporters … with his decision, conveyed to activists by a senior adviser, not to sign an executive order banning discrimination by employers with federal contracts.”
It is no secret that politicians say one thing and do another. And it’s no big secret as to why that is. Campaigns are costly. For his column at Salon, Glenn Greenwald wrote in his latest article—“Obama ‘evolves’ on marriage”—that, “It may very well be true that Obama took this step not out of any genuine conviction, but because he perceives that high levels of enthusiasm among the Democratic base generally and gay donors specifically are necessary for his re-election.”
There is much more to say about Obama’s position on same-sex marriage, gender and sexuality and many will write about all this over the coming days and weeks. But the point is that, just considering Obama’s own presidential term, we have to take so many grains of salt for every discrepancy between what he says and what he does that he is feeding us a high-sodium political diet.
Remember back in November 2007 when Barack Obama said that, “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America”?
In Madison, Wisconsin, the only sound you can hear are crickets chirping.
Remember back in the summer of 2008 when presidential candidate Barack Obama said, “It is time to pass Employee Free Choice Act in the Senate, and I will make it a law of the land when I am President of the United States of America”?
Well, he was elected, and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, and there was not one attempt to ”make it a law of the land.” Whoops!
Remember during that same period when Obama said, “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health care program,” and that, “I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14 percent of its gross national product on health care, cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody”?
Oh wait, that’s right. After he was elected he sung an entirely different tune:
What are not legitimate concerns are those being put forward claiming a public option is somehow a Trojan horse for a single-payer system. I’ll be honest. There are countries where a single-payer system may be working. But I believe — and I’ve even taken some flak from members of my own party for this belief — that it is important for us to build on our traditions here in the United States. So, when you hear the naysayers claim that I’m trying to bring about government-run health care, know this – they are not telling the truth.
Remember on January 22, 2009 when President Obama issued an executive order which stated that, “The detention facilities at Guantánamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order,” and that, “If any individuals covered by this order remain in detention at Guantánamo at the time of closure of those detention facilities, they shall be returned to their home country, released, transferred to a third country, or transferred to another United States detention facility in a manner consistent with law and the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States”?
Not only are the detention facilities at Guantánamo still open and active, but detainees, like Inayatullah, are killing themselves to stop the torture that is still going on a year after Obama had ordered the torture center to close. Inayatullah wasn’t returned home, or released, or transferred to a third country, or to the U.S. in compliance with law. He remained at Guantánamo, enduring God knows what, until he finally freed himself by taking his own life.
You get the point.
Consider Obama’s pro-rhetoric on Labor above, or his executive order on closing Guantánamo. Politicians are constantly responding to power, which generally comes in two forms: the power of money and the power in numbers. They are professionals, and know how to pick their battles. In the absence of an organized national movement mobilized around working class, or environmental, or LGBT issues, or whatever, it should come as no surprise that calculating politicians, like President Obama, don’t bite the hands that feed them.
The Military Industrial Complex is stronger and better organized than human rights activists. Therefore, Guantánamo remains open. Capital is stronger and better organized than Labor. Therefore, Obama didn’t dare put on his comfortable shoes and occupy Wisconsin’s capitol. The power and influence of “employers” is greater than the LGBT movement. Therefore, President Obama didn’t sign an executive order on gay bias last month. Besides, there is a caveat that folks are forgetting to consider. President Obama himself kept emphasizing the words “for me personally,” and as CNN reports: “The president said he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own.”
Translation: Because of the political implications of his comment during a presidential election, and because there is no organized social movement to counter the influence of the religious right, President Obama has determined that it is only safe enough to say what he “personally” feels is right, and is pressured to say, but that it’s up to the states to decide.
And considering that fourty-two states outlaw same-sex marriage, with thirty states now having a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage thanks to North Carolina’s recent amendment, President Obama’s “support” for states to decide makes his “support” for same-sex marriage a rather meaningless, empty gesture—which will probably secure a few more votes from kind-hearted folks who didn’t take the time to read the fine print.
Furthermore, it should be noted, so as to pull things into perspective a bit, that Obama’s views has only “evolved” to what was former Vice President Dick Cheney’s view just a few weeks shy of three years ago.