Saturday, February 06, 2010

Obama was saving gay rights for later, and not because he thought it was a loser...

...but because he liked the idea of the Republicans publicly putting on their Klan hoods just before midterm elections.
In another, milder cross-examination — on “Meet the Press” last weekend — John Boehner, the House G.O.P. leader, fended off a question about “don’t ask” with a rhetorical question of his own: “In the middle of two wars and in the middle of this giant security threat, why would we want to get into this debate?” Besides Mullen’s answer — that it is the right thing to do — there’s another, less idealistic reason why President Obama might want to get into it. The debate could blow up in the Republicans’ faces. A protracted battle or filibuster in which they oppose civil rights will end up exposing the deep prejudice at the root of their arguments. That’s not where a party trying to expand beyond its white Dixie base and woo independents wants to be in 2010.

Polls consistently show that independents, however fiscally conservative, are closer to Democrats than Republicans on social issues. (In May’s Gallup survey, 67 percent of independents favored repealing “don’t ask.”) This is why Scott Brown, enjoying what may be a short-lived honeymoon in his own party, calls himself a “Scott Brown Republican.” A Scott Brown Republican isn’t a Boehner or Hatch Republican. In his interview with Barbara Walters last weekend, he distanced himself from Sarah Palin, said he was undecided on “don’t ask” and declared same-sex marriage a “settled” issue in his state, Massachusetts, where it is legal.

It’s in this political context that we can see that there may have been some method to Obama’s troublesome tardiness on gay issues after all.

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