On Ed's post this morning that Obama's conversion on gay marriage was cynical and political, I would reply that's what some people said about Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation.

Political considerations are always part of the mix even in the most idealistic decisions, but, to me, it's a lot more important where Obama ended up on gay marriage than how he got there. Too many Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue, which is where some, not all, Southern Democrats once were on civil rights. The arc of justice may bend slowly and cynically, but yesterday it bent.


Now to another politically charged issue with civil rights implications: immigration. I am watching with fascination Sen. Marco Rubio's efforts on the Dream Act. Rubio, who is auditioning for the vice presidency, has tried to find a third way on immigration, stopping short of offering citizenship to immigrants who attend college or join the military.

One imagines this compromise is positioned to offer Mitt Romney a way out of his hard-line immigration dilemma. Romney opposed the current Dream Act, which does offer citizenship, but was already watered-down from the bill that John McCain, Ted Kennedy and George W. Bush once imagined. In other words, the Rubio version is a very weak offering in the eyes of immigration reformers.  

It is tempting to say that Rubio's idea on immigration is the perfect one if he wants to be vice president. It is tailor-made for Romney's purposes, but I wonder if it suits one with a possibly higher ambition not to be second on the ticket, but first. There is now, or will be soon, an opening in the Republican Party for a more compassionate conservative. Just as George W. Bush was the reaction to Newt Gingrich's grip on the party in the ‘90s, some Republicans will seize the daylight created by the darkness of all these grim, apocalyptic, judgmental Republican fundamentalists. This daylight will expand if Romney loses and could shine on Rubio, if he hasn't already joined the dark side.