On “Meet the Press,” Vice President Joe Biden said he’d be “comfortable with gay marriage,” an odd formulation for an important matter of public policy. (This is truly liberalism’s triumph of good intentions over actions.) But many in the gay community got excited, until the inevitable walkback occurred, as Amanda Terkel reports:

Excitement quickly turned to frustration amongst gay rights activists on Sunday after the Obama team walked back Vice President Biden’s remarks on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that seemed to signal his endorsement of marriage equality. . . .

But the possibility of Biden becoming the highest-ranking U.S. official to endorse marriage equality was short-lived, as his office and the Obama campaign immediately walked back his comments, saying they were totally in line with the views of the president, who does not support full marriage equality rights.

“The vice president was saying what the president has said previously — that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to rollback those rights. ... Beyond that, the vice president was expressing that he too is evolving on the issue, after meeting so many committed couples and families in this country,” said a Biden spokesperson.

This is becoming the proverbial Lucy and the football. One wonders how often pro-gay-marriage activists, like poor Charlie Brown, are going to fall for this stuff.

Given the example of Jewish and Hispanic voters (both of whom were promised the moon and the stars on issues close to their hearts), gay activists might want to heed some basic lessons.

First, forking over lots of money gives you access; threatening to cut it off gets you attention. The leverage is with the gay community, whose financial and electoral power is considerable. But as long as the campaign takes gay voters (like Jews, Hispanics and union members) for granted, there is no reason for President Obama to move on this before the election. If he’s not reelected, the pro-gay-marriage activists are nowhere; if he is reelected, will he put other initiatives at risk and create a firestorm? It seems he will have bigger fish to fry if he gets four more years.

Second, private persuasion gets you only so far. At the height of Obama’s assaults on Israel over building in Jerusalem, public ads, congressional pressure and a steady flow of unfavorable press sent Obama on his “charm offensive” to the Jewish community. Gay activists should take that to heart and recognize that PACs and super PACs are great tools of American political expression and free speech.

Really, the question boils down to whether the gay community is in effect a cheap date, ready to give its heart and soul, money and votes to a president who actually agrees with the activists (we have to believe) but has zero political courage. Unless you light a fire under such a pol you’ll get more of the same — happy talk and no action.