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WILLIAMS: On gay marriage, Obama plays politics — badly

- - Sunday, May 13, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Biologists will tell you that evolution is never complete, and that it has no necessary direction; it is neither good nor bad, just something that happens. The president is supposedly done evolving on the issue of gay marriage, and it only took him 16 years — his entire political career.

He began by supporting it in 1996, opposed it from 2000 to 2012, and now supports it again. He has thus gone in a circle. Around and around he goes; where he stops, nobody knows.

This issue more than any other — and there are plenty of others — demonstrates that Mr. Obama is just another politician, something everybody older than 30 knew in 2008. The surprising thing is that, despite his meteoric ascent in American politics from a primary loss to Bobby Rush in 2000 to president of the United States in 2008, he's not a very good one.

What are the pragmatic consequences of this decision? None of them is good.

The Obama campaign has now completely surrendered one of its greatest advantages: the ability to accuse Mitt Romney of flip-flopping, a tactic which may have single-handedly sunk John F. Kerry's chances of being president in 2004.

Moreover, the president, in his wisdom, waited until afterlosing a decisive vote in North Carolina, swing state and home to this year's Democratic National Convention, on this very issue. The vote, unlike Mr. Obama's primary victory in the same state, in which 20 percent of Democratic voters refused to state a preference on their presidential ballot, was overwhelming. Is this reverse psychology? Reverse pandering? Are these guys geniuses or idiots?

Mr. Obama's leftist base has clamored for his approval of gay marriage, and perhaps he thinks he can rally its enthusiasm after two years of disappointments. But how big of a voting bloc is the gay community? Kinsey put it at 10 percent of the population — but surely this 10 percent gain will be offset in losses of voters he is offending by this decision.

Why would they be offended? Because the president has taken by far the most radical position in this debate (that is, until the liberals start clamoring for an individual mandate for gay marriage, probably sometime next year), and, by implication, called a majority of U.S. states bigoted.

To adopt Mr. Obama's new, more highly evolved position is to claim to know better than every society in history — but that's not enough for the president. As Dr. Johnson famously said, "Sir, if you will not take the universal opinion of mankind, I have nothing to say. If mankind cannot defend their own way of thinking, I cannot defend it."

The president went on to claim theological underpinnings for this new, radical vision. Mr. Obama thinks he's the best theologian in 2,000 years — he believes he has some unique access to the meaning of the Gospel. Well, he did go to Harvard Law.

To add a further irony to the whole thing, this is the same Barack Obama who ran as a post-partisan, as a centrist. He has just shredded whatever credibility he had left.

A person of conviction who acts out of principle rather than political expediency is what our nation desperately needs now, which makes this partisan pandering all the more disappointing from The Chosen One.

On the issue of same-sex marriage, reasonable people can agree that any two consenting adults can have relationships in which they can live together, sleep together, eat and do whatever they wish together. This is a free society. By simply doing these things, however, they do not get to redefine a foundational institution like marriage. If we begin to redefine the very pillars of our society based on political expediency, there soon won't be anything left to redefine. We must return to principles and values central to our society, which include being kind to everyone, while not changing who we are.

We are supposed to be distracted from the fact that the financial world is collapsing and burning already, and focus instead on marriage. This is a red herring.

Republicans need to avoid these issues that poll so much in their favor and focus on the economy. Barack Obama has just chosen a losing issue for himself, and people will repay him for it.

This evolution from Mr. Obama is not an accident, but a result of some very unintelligent design.

• Armstrong Williams is on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday. Become a fan on Facebook at facebook.com/arightside and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/arightside.