Yesterday, I suggested that pro-gay marriage activists needed to get tough with the president and threaten to cut the purse strings if he didn’t abandon his utterly untenable and intellectually dishonest maneuvering on gay marriage. My colleague Greg Sargent reports that on a related issue, major gay donors did just that:
Jonathan Lewis, the gay philanthropist and leading Democratic fundraiser, is one of many gay advocates who has been working behind the scenes to pressure Obama to change his mind. When Obama decided against the executive order last month, arguing that he would pursue a legislative solution instead, advocates were furious — such a solution will never pass Congress, the executive order has been a priority for advocates for years, and the move smacked of a political cave to conservatives who will not support Obama no matter what he does.
Well, they may be catching on. Now, we’ll see if others join them to pressure President Obama on gay marriage.
Obama has pretty much painted himself into a corner. The press corps is essentially calling him a liar for not confessing that he favors gay marriage. Gay activists are up in arms. Voters who don’t feel all that strongly about the issue or oppose gay marriage can’t understand why he’s wrapped up in this and not the economy. And suddenly Mitt Romney isn’t the most spineless pol in the race. (Romney arguably doesn’t think gay marriage is a good idea, which at least makes his position less cowardly than Obama). And if he does eventually flip-flop he’ll look like he buckled under pressure.
Now let’s review. Obama launches a “war on women” offensive. Hilary Rosen turns that into a big win for Ann Romney and rouses the sleeping giant in the GOP (social conservatives). Obama has the opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing, which he manages to turn into crass political exercise, drawing considerable criticism. Next up is “Life of Julia,” a pander-thon to single women, which becomes fodder for Romney and his supporters to claim Obama really is in favor of a cradle-to-grave welfare state. Then on an issue on which he has done some good for gay voters (e.g. championing repeal of DADT) he figures out how to annoy this constituency and make himself look more craven than Romney. See a pattern here?
In his gimmick-a-day campaign he is now riddled with self-inflicted wounds. His gambits are too clever by half, and his team is utterly unprepared to respond once its rhetorical grenades are tossed back into its camp.
It would help, of course, if Obama had things he wanted to do and was willing to tell us what those are (e.g., “I want to pass immigration reform that does these four things. . .”). But you sense he wants to be reelected because he likes winning the presidency (governing, not so much) and because he must know that a one-term president whose only achievement may be voided by the Supreme Court would make him one of the worst presidents (if not the worst) in decades.
It is easy to imagine Obama has actually done everything he was ever interested in doing — passing health-care reform, ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, slashing defense and building up the domestic welfare state. The rest may just not interest him all that much.
Gay right activists — like hawkish foreign policy gurus, immigration reform activists and entitlement reformers — are learning the hard way: Nothing, nothing is going to get in the way of his reelection plan, which seems to be based on his ability to do nothing for the next six months. In the meantime, doing nothing is becoming more challenging than Obama ever imagined.