Since President Obama made it known his views on same-sex marriage have “evolved” and he now supports it, not surprisingly he’s won praise. But the idea that this was a courageous act is questionable for many reasons, not the least of which, that on this particular issue Obama would become a risk-taker when on so many other issues he displays caution.
“Doctor Science” argues persuasively that Obama’s “evolution” in this case may have more to do with winning financial support from Wall Street and baiting Republicans to turn their attention away from the economy.
Obama is not in front of the pack on this issue — his statement today could be seen as following the populace, not leading.
It will definitely fire up “the Democratic base”, especially younger people, who are already strongly in favor of SSM. The Obama campaign really needs the younger generation to do a lot of the campaign drudgework, and to vote and get their friends to vote.
But it also, IMHO, addresses a particular issue for the Obama campaign: needing to keep deep-pocket Wall Street donors who backed him in 2008. These guys are Mitt Romney’s natural constituency if the campaign focuses on economic issues, and they aren’t feeling very happy with Obama right now.
But a lot of them also strongly support marriage equality. Same-sex marriage was legalized in New York because Republican hedge fund types wanted it — and you have to figure that Democratic financiers are even more pro-SSM.
For instance, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, vocally supports SSM. So far, Goldman Sachs employees have been supporting Romney more than Obama — though they were a rich mine for Obama donations in 2008. At the very least, Obama’s announcement is going to make a lot of people at Goldman Sachs think twice about whether they want to continue backing Romney. The Obama campaign received $1 million in spontaneous contributions — and the bundlers and Super-PACs haven’t begun to work this angle yet.
There’s also the fact that the primaries have proved that Republicans can no more resist going after “social” issues than a bull can resist a red flag. It doesn’t matter that the economy is where they’re strongest relative to Obama, and that their virulent attacks on LGBT rights, women’s rights, and not-conservative-Christian religious rights put off moderate voters. They can’t help it, they’ll charge that flag every time.