When a president takes a stand on a highly controversial issue like gay marriage in an election year, you know he is doing it solely to motivate his base. How so? The job of the president has nothing to do with who can and cannot get married, so in announcing that he supports gay marriage, President Obama is not announcing that he will or can actually do anything about it.
The Antiplanner thinks of gay marriage as one of three litmus sets for whether someone is a libertarian. Are you fiscally conservative but you support gay marriage and drug decriminalization? Then you are libertarian. Some libertarians disagree with one another on other issues such as abortion, immigration, and the war on terror. But I don’t think anyone would call themselves libertarians if they opposed gay marriage or drug decriminalization.
Drug decriminalization–especially for minor drugs like marijuana–is also supported by most of those on the left. Here is an issue the president can actually do something about, as he commands numerous agencies–the FBI, BATF, DEA, etc.–that enforce federal drug laws. At the very least, he can order those agencies to respect state laws in states that have legalized medical marijuana.
Yet Obama has “massively escalated the federal government’s attacks on medical marijuana businesses,” says the director of the Marijuana Policy Project in the Washington Post. His administration has ramped up the war on pot in Colorado despite the fact that even most Republicans in Colorado support medical marijuana.
Here’s an issue Obama could have taken a stand on where he could make a difference (and should have made a difference when he first took office three years ago). Instead, he speaks out on gay marriage. Big deal.
One pundit argues that Obama was “forced” to comment on gay marriage because of careless remarks by his vice-president. If that were true, then the Obama campaign wouldn’t already have web ads knocking Romney for his opposition to gay marriage. It sounds to me like this has been a carefully coordinated effort: first Biden stirs up the issue, then Obama “bravely” takes a stand, followed by hits against his opponent.
Current polls show Obama and Romney in a statistically dead-even race. Obama won in 2008 by bringing out the youth vote, who are much more solidly pro-gay rights than older voters. The administration hopes that the president’s “risky” stance will attract young voters again and carry him to victory without actually committing him to ever take any action since he has no authority to act on the subject of marriages, which are governed by the states, not the feds.
All of which just makes me more cynical than ever about government and politics.