Potomac Fever is the blog of the Hamilton College Semester in Washington Program.
I don't think that it is fair to criticize Obama for reversing his position on DOMA. The media tends to scrutinize politicians' positions on just about anything, taking advantage of any incongruity to question their credibility. While I do believe that holding politicians to a high standard of credibility is a good thing in most cases, it seems that in doing so, we have forgotten that the President is, in fact, human.Reasonable people often adjust their views as new arguments are presented. In fact, I would argue that the ability to give fair consideration to opposing arguments and adjust accordingly is an important skill for any person, the President included. As our country becomes increasingly open to gay marriage, it is important that the chief executive consistently challenge his own views. While the media expects Obama to maintain a consistent position on DOMA, I would argue that such rigidity hinders progress and does not allow for the kind of openness to change that democracy itself should promote. I see Obama's concession as a sign of integrity, not dishonesty.In this particular instance, I wonder if Obama has been pro-gay marriage all along. I figured that he had to adopt an opposing stance as a candidate if he wanted any chance of being elected. But I wonder if his recent reversal on his view toward DOMA is truly a reversal, or if, in fact, he has never been as opposed to gay marriage as he seemed.
I disagree- I think Obama's record makes clear that this is a point where he has equivocated and played it safe in order to sit in the political sweet-spot of maximum gain with minimum offense to the general American public. Granted, all politicians do this- but the counterargument against that is something I suspect all of our parents taught us- two wrongs don't make a right. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/01/13/obama-once-supported-same_n_157656.html for evidence of his apparent flip-flopping. In 1996, he supported same-sex marriage. Clearly this contradicts his many campaign statements and positions against same-sex marriage.So if we believe that Obama is being sincere and that his ideas have changed over time, this is what happened. In 1996 he believed (unusual for the time) in gay marriage, but then by the 2008 Presidential cycle he didn't. And now, his ideas are "evolving." (http://www.advocate.com/News/News_Features/Exclusive_Interview_President_Barack_Obama_DADT/). “Like a lot of people, I’m wrestling with this." And now he's allowing his administration to stop defending DOMA. Of course, a cynic might note that if your views (like Obama's) are constantly in flux, you never take a solid position so never have to be wrong.
I realized that by the end, you were saying stuff similar to what I say in my comment, so the start of "I disagree" might be a little to strong. Sorry. I just jumped on your first paragraph
I think you and I basically agree- Obama changed his public stance in order to increase his election chances. The question is whether it was justified for him to purposefully alter his stated views in order to appease the electorate?And was it necessary- would it have cost him the primary or election?
Post a Comment