The Greenwald Pounce

May 15 2012 @ 11:28am

I will leave it to you, dear readers, to decide if what I said above was "creepy", as Glenn Greenwald has it. It seems to me I was completely candid about the emotions that flooded my frontal cortex in the wake of Obama's ABC News interview. I did not say they undermined my core point that technically the president doesn't matter on this matter. It is possible both to assess the limited practical impact of an interview and express emotion at the same time.

Still, Glenn and I have different temperaments. He's perfectly entitled to label me a pathetic, sappy human being for being moved by the great cause of my life finally finding a home in the Oval Office. But it's deeply unfair to accuse me, especially on the issue of gay rights, of being a sycophant to this president. On this very blog, I often lacerated Obama and the administration when I thought they were dragging their feet – on the HIV ban, on the DOJ's original defense of DOMA, and especially on gays in the military, when I went on CNN to accuse the president of "betrayal". I wasn't a terribly reliable hagiographer then, was I? And you can read my cover-essay and see if it is pure hagiography, as opposed to a genuine judgment of a political and moral evolution.

As to my reference to Obama as a father figure on the Chris Matthews Show, after constantly saying that we shouldn't be looking for a father figure, well: consider me busted.

The power of a president's words did surprise me. The president is the head of state. When he speaks, history is being made. When a president uses that authority to express solidarity with gay citizens and their families, and to assert his belief in their core equality, for the first time ever, I'm not going to apologize for being moved, just as I was moved by the sight of an African-American being sworn into the presidency in the first place. And forgive me, but if someone had told me two decades ago that by 2012, a black president would be endorsing gay marriage, I would have asked where he got that stuff he was smoking.

Glenn is a fantastic blogger and a friend. I'm sure my occasional sentiment irritates him as much as his detached purism sometimes baffles me. But I am not a toady to power; in this village, I am more of a feral creature. I have excoriated presidents and hailed them at times. I just believe this president matters; and, for me, he now matters more. If that is a position a blogger should not take for fear of being seen as a suck-up, so be it. It's from my heart.

Update: Glenn emails to say that his point was that I should apologize to those who insisted that it would matter a lot if the president said the words. I don't recall a specific individual I criticized on those grounds, but, yes, those who believed his words mattered were right and I was wrong.