Obama Evolves: Reax

May 9 2012 @ 4:41pm

Shep Smith uses the president's announcement to shame the right:

Fallows cherishes Obama's embrace of equality:

I am aware that there are various slice-and-dice cynical assessments one could make of the president's comments today. (Why did he take so long? Why did he back off the support he'd expressed back in the 1990s? Might this be useful as a wedge issue in the election? It doesn't have any immediate impact since it's still up to the states. And so on.) But the fact remains that five minutes before his announcement, no one could be sure that he would take the step of saying that his personal views had changed. He did — and it was important, brave, potentially risky, and right. That should be noted. It's a significant day.

Dan Savage is unsatisfied:

So Barack Obama is for marriage equality. Personally. Because he knows some monogamous same-sex couples who are raising children. (Non-monogamous couples can't get legally married, of course, unless they're straight.) But the president also supports the "concept" of states—states like, say, North Carolina, which yesterday banned any recognition of same-sex relationships in reality, not in concept—"decding the issue on their own." So the president supports same-sex marriage but he believes that states should be able to ban same-sex marriages. 

John Cook echoes:

[B]efore Roe v. Wade, abortion was a state-by-state issue, too. So was slavery. There are 30 states in which gay men and women are currently barred from marrying one another. Obama's position is that, while he would have voted the other way, those 30 states are perfectly within their rights to arbitrarily restrict the access of certain individuals to marriage rights based solely on their sexual orientation.

Dana Goldstein doubts the president's sincerity when it comes to the federalism question:

It would have been a more historic moment if Obama hadn't also reaffirmed states' rights to decide the matter on their own. Here's hoping he can "evolve" on that, too — since I don't believe he truly believes it, just like he was never really "personally" against gay marriage.

Alyssa Rosenberg is amazed at how fast progress has been made:

This is so far from done. But this is so much more than I believed was possible in 2003. And it’s a lot of why I believe in the power of stories to change things. Whether it’s Joe Biden’s conversion via Will & Grace, or the courage of everyone who’s told their personal story to family, friends, or their boss, the President of the United States, the lives of gay Americans are undeniably real, and loving, and worth honoring.

Weigel's read on the political calculation:

You could look at this and think that the campaign's roll-out — it started on Saturday! — was undone by Joe Biden's loose talk. An alternate theory: The old, phony Obama position, useful as long as gay marriage was unpopular, had stopped being useful.

David Corn likewise considers the politics:

[T]he most solid analysis of how Obama's decision will impact the election is likely this: who knows? Democratic sources close to the White House and the Obama campaign tell me that this certainly wasn't a carefully planned endeavor on the president's part. 

Allahpundit disagrees:

I used to ask whether anyone seriously believes O opposes gay marriage. Now I have to start asking whether anyone seriously believes O would have stopped feigning opposition if it was still a clear political winner for him to keep it up. His “courage” here, as in all things, is about his own reelection chances. 

Cillizza points out that the announcement could boost Obama's fundraising:

One in six Obama’s 2012 campaign bundlers are gay, according to research conducted by the Post’s Dan Eggen and T.W. Farnam. Couple that fact with the news earlier this week that George Soros, one of the most prominent Democratic major donors in the country, wasdirecting his contributions to grassroots groups rather than the super PAC expected to fund TV ads supporting Obama and it’s clear that the president badly needs a heavy investment from Hollywood and Silicon Valley. And those two communities are heavily in favor of gay marriage. (Don’t forget:Obama is headed to Hollywood tonight for a fundraiser at the house of actor George Clooney.)

Jennifer Rubin's take

I think this is unlikely to change a single vote. The vast number of Americans opposed to gay marriage are either committed conservatives who will never vote for him or African American Democrats who will vote for him no matter what. The only implication may be that Christian conservatives’ enthusiasm for Romney increases and his base-turnout problems become a non-concern.

Richard Socarides saw this coming:

Last December, I wrote a post in which I predicted that Obama would, before the election, make the announcement we heard today. At that time, I wrote, "having the President publicly endorse marriage equality will be an important symbolic and substantive turning point. It would likely accelerate the pro-equality shift in public opinion, including in minority communities. It will make it easier for federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, to rule in favor of gay rights in the face of arguments that doing so is out of the mainstream of American political thought. And it might just help get President Obama reëlected." All of this is still true today.

Mataconis is also unsurprised:

It’s only because of Biden, Duncan, and a White House Press Corps that knew it had an issue that it could keep pressing the Administration on until it got a straight answer, that we came to this day. I am glad to see the President getting to this position, but I guess the question is what took you so long?