Perhaps some of y’all will want to discuss this. For that purpose, I give you this post.
Basically, in a fairly transparent series of steps designed to test the waters, two people in the administration stepped out and said they now support same-sex marriage. From the time they did so, it seemed highly likely that they were doing so to see if the world exploded in their faces, ahead of the president making this statement. (Excuse the mixed metaphors; I’m having a busy and harried day.)
But it was artful the way they did it. By having Joe Biden, the famous loose cannon, be the first one to step out, it was possible to disown the statement completely if there was too much of a negative reaction. There wasn’t — at least, not particularly (something that reflects the fact that most people, whether they are pro- or anti-, simply don’t care as much about this as the portion of Obama’s base that cares deeply) — and that made it safe for the next soldier to step into the minefield (sorry! sorry! there’s another metaphor). And when Arne Duncan didn’t get blown up, that made everyone go, Arne Duncan — he’s no loose cannon. And he’s Obama’s longtime basketball buddy!
The next step was for the president himself to say the words that would calm down a significant portion of his fund-raising base. And to do it early enough in the campaign that most of us will have mostly forgotten it by November, since there are so many other things we care so much more about.
The calculated nature of this move was reflected in the language used by one “LGBT advocate” quoted by the WashPost: “The conversation is, what can and should we do to quiet the uproar and to get donors back on board.”
Well, that’s done, and now the Obama campaign will be ready to move on, having brought this up and dispensed with it during the dead time in the campaign between the effective end of the GOP contest and the party conventions just before Labor Day. There was no other time that the president could have done this that would have made less of a political splash.
As I say, deftly done. If there was anything about it unartful, it was perhaps this part:
And he said he wanted to be “sensitive” to the fact that for many Americans, the word “marriage” evokes “very powerful positions, religious beliefs and so forth.”
That somewhat bemused characterization of religious traditionalists is somewhat reminiscent of his “God and guns” misstep of four years ago, making people with traditional values sound a bit like critters in the zoo or something — as something out there that one understands only with great effort. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as that earlier faux pas. And after all, how is he supposed to characterize people whose entire worldview he is rejecting?
So the thing was done about as skillfully as it could be done. If one is determined to do it.