"Well, that went as well as could be expected..."
December 12, 2011 4:35 PM   Subscribe

An awkward moment in politics. (YouTube) While campaigning in a New Hampshire diner, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spotted local Bob Garon, a regular to the diner, eating his breakfast while wearing a Vietnam veteran's cap. “Vietnam veteran!” Romney greeted Bob, as he slid down onto the diner seat for a little chat. Unfortunately for Mitt, Bob was dining there that morning with his husband, and had to explain to Bob that his husband didn't deserve any of the benefits he fought for, and that the makers of the Constitution held marriage to be between a man and a woman. (Which doesn't really explain Mitt's great-grandfather Miles and his wives Hanna, Caroline, Catherine, Alice, and Emily, but stilll...)
posted by markkraft (168 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Asked why he felt so strongly about Romney’s response, Garon said: “Because I’m gay, alright? And I happen to love a man just like you probably love your wife. Alright? And I think that he or she or whatever are entitled to the same rights that I have. I fought for my country, I did my thing, and I think that my spouse should be entitled to the same entitlements as if I was married to a woman. What the hell is the difference? I was definitely offended. He doesn’t even open the door to a conversation. It’s just a boom! But I did ask him ‘yes or no,’ so I got what I asked for.”

I like this guy!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:41 PM on December 12, 2011 [60 favorites]


Marriage is a bond between a man and a woman and a woman and a woman! It's not Adam and Steve, it's Adam and Eve and Margaret and Helen!
posted by louche mustachio at 4:42 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


AHAHAHA I love this. What a gloriously awkward moment, for Romney to sit down for a photo op and get the chance to deny a gay veteran his rights to his face. I wish every person who denies equal rights for LGBTQ people had to do that.
posted by MadamM at 4:44 PM on December 12, 2011 [117 favorites]


Man, this is almost like the Republican version of a Joe the Plumber moment.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:44 PM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'd like to think Romney was embarassed, what with saying to a man's face he doesn't deserve equal rights. But that's far too human an emotion for a political candidate to express.

What's particularly frustrating is that Romney used to be pretty pro-gay. He flip-flopped when he moved from Massachusetts politics to national. Because he's a man of principle.
posted by Nelson at 4:45 PM on December 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Yeah, the disturbing thing about Mitt Romney isn't that he holds conservative views, it's that he holds them but almost certainly doesn't believe in them.

He's a sociopath.
posted by General Tonic at 4:49 PM on December 12, 2011 [47 favorites]


I can't help the schadenfreude in watching people like Romney squirm when actually faced with actual people and the cognitive dissonance almost makes inroads through to their entrenched bigotry. These people are on the wrong side of history, and their attitudes and beliefs will die the death of a thousand cuts, like this one. It'll take a bit more time, though.
posted by zardoz at 4:49 PM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Chez Vachon serves good schadenfreude.
posted by entropicamericana at 4:49 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Breakfast for two: $12.95

Made-in-Vietnam Vietnam Vet Cap: $5.30

The moment when his rickety ship of scumbag principles collides with the cold, hard iceberg of your reality: priceless
posted by vidur at 4:51 PM on December 12, 2011 [27 favorites]


Yeah, the disturbing thing about Mitt Romney isn't that he holds conservative views, it's that he holds them but almost certainly doesn't believe in them.

This raises a profound question about artificial intelligence. Mitt, as a robot, will hold whatever view you program him to hold. But is he capable of belief?

I would argue that belief is more a province of human beings. Mitt can hold data, but the technology hasn't advanced far enough yet to allow him the self-awareness necessary for belief.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:51 PM on December 12, 2011 [32 favorites]


I'm sorry, I wrote "allow him the self-awareness" when, of course, I meant "allow it the self-awareness."

I can't help anthropomorphizing him, even as I'm unnerved by the uncanny valley effect whenever I see him move or talk.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:53 PM on December 12, 2011 [33 favorites]


"Mitt, as a robot, will hold whatever view you program him to hold. But is he capable of belief?"

That was an intentional setup, right?!
posted by markkraft at 4:53 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


As much as I disagree with him, I almost want to respect him for not trying to sugar-coat or equivocate when face to face with the issue.

But I think it might be too much of a stretch for me.
posted by sm1tten at 4:56 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm happy to see him confronted about the gay marriage "issue," but that bit about his grandfather is a cheap shot.
posted by malocchio at 4:57 PM on December 12, 2011 [15 favorites]


I'm so awkwardness-allergic that I can't watch the thing, but if it does what it says on the tin then it will make a marvelous scene in the future documentary on the battle for LGBT rights, one that will add Romney to the names that stand for a shameful and long period of American history.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 4:57 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


great-grandfather, that is.
posted by malocchio at 4:58 PM on December 12, 2011


I live in Massachusetts and it amazes me that Mitt Romney was ever elected to office in this fine Commonwealth. Seriously. We've got gay marriage and P-Town AND Northampton. Might as well replace our flag with a rainbow.

IIRC, the only way he was elected governor is that the incumbent that year was criminally stupid and/or incompetent and he was elected out of an "ANYONE BUT HER!" kind of spite.

Or the election was rigged by Martians. These are the only plausible explanations.
posted by sonika at 4:58 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


As much as I disagree with him, I almost want to respect him for not trying to sugar-coat or equivocate when face to face with the issue.

It's sad, but trying to equivocate or sugar-coat it would've probably actually cost him more - he's trying to court the home base right now, and waffling in the face of a such a stark framing of one of the most controversial political talking points right now isn't going to win him any favours with the right. I could easily see something like this coming up to bite him in a later debate, had he tried to weasel his way out of an absolutely negative answer in order to save some face.

I don't know what that says about the state of US politics...nothing we didn't already know, I'm sure.
posted by Phire at 5:02 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm so pleased that people, like Romney, who say things like this are now forced to do so on the (permanent) public record. History will not be kind to people acting like the modern equivalent of old southern racists advocating "Segregation Forever!"
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:03 PM on December 12, 2011 [25 favorites]


That was an intentional setup, right?!

It wasn't, but I'm going to claim it was because that was an awesome response.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:04 PM on December 12, 2011


Mitt, as a robot, will hold whatever view you program him to hold.

Just the other day, I was wondering if Johannes Schlüter ever found a new job after Bush left office. Apparently he's now piloting the Romney. (SLYT). See, the GOP are job creators.
posted by webhund at 5:04 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


it's gonna be a long election season - taking cheap shots at someone's religion strikes me as the sort of thing we get mad at the GOP for doing. that's like holding the decedents of our forefathers responsible because their great-great-great grandfathers owned slaves.
posted by nadawi at 5:09 PM on December 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


This would be a good chance for Obama to seize the moment and come out in favor of gay marriage. This won't hurt Romney in the primary obviously, but in the general it could be set up as a good contrast. The polling is there, it's time.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:10 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


That man showed in my opinion a great deal of restraint. If you came in and sat next to me hoping for a photo-op and an endorsement, then told me that you think I am a second class citizen not deserving of full civil rights. Even tho you came shmoozing over because I'm supposed to be a shining example of one who has fought for freedom and protected the rights of Americans. I'd want to punch your face it.
Sure a hell wouldn't have shook his hand.
posted by MrBobaFett at 5:10 PM on December 12, 2011 [12 favorites]


This would be a good chance for Obama to seize the moment and come out in favor of gay marriage.

Yep. The best thing Romney could have said (politically, that is) would have been "my position on same-sex marriage is the same as President Obama's."
posted by The World Famous at 5:12 PM on December 12, 2011 [28 favorites]


As the years go on, it is simply going to be harder and harder to run a presidential campaign as a bigot. Put this in the archives to look back on.
posted by found missing at 5:13 PM on December 12, 2011


Seems the diner customer pulled his punches to me.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:13 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm happy to see him confronted about the gay marriage "issue," but that bit about his great grandfather is a cheap shot.

It's actually not a cheap shot because the Mormon Church explicitly campaigned against gay marriage and its history of polygamy is one reason that it takes this political stance. Basically, the reason polygamy is banned in the LDS is because it is illegal in the United States. The only reason they stopped practicing it was because the leadership had a "revelation" that it should no long be practiced when Utah wanted statehood and that was the condition.

The FLDS split off from the LDS at this point, believing the revelation to be untrue and political: the people in that group today have a different lineage of prophets they trace back to this split.

What does this have to do with gay marriage? Under some (but not other) constitutional arguments for gay marriage, polygamy could potentially also be legalized. The LDS does not want this because it would then have to practice it again and it has fought very hard for mainstream acceptance and that would set it back a lot.
posted by Maias at 5:13 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


I thought both of them behaved themselves. It was the sort of frank talk between people who disagree I wouod like to see more of. I don't get why it is supposed to be awkward. Awkward would be a Perry/Michael Scott response.
posted by michaelh at 5:16 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I may be completely slow but I did NOT see Romney as all that awkward here - I'm not sure what y'all are talking about (?) He seemed to handle a crazy situation will relative ease and, well, grace, if oozing slick-dom.

I don't see Obama in a similar situation acting all that different...
posted by victors at 5:16 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


You would think that as a cyborg, MIT Romney would support One Robot One Octopus.
posted by benzenedream at 5:16 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


The best thing Romney could have said (politically, that is) would have been "my position on same-sex marriage is the same as President Obama's."

Disagreed. The conservatives I know believe Obama supports everything they oppose, so the basest of bases would read that comment from Romney as "I support gay marriage" or, worse for Romney, 'I agree with Obama about something."
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:17 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Not awkward enough. Too bad the diner brought up the Constitution at the end - it let Romney leave while making a point that may have been technically correct, if morally irrelevant.
posted by Dasein at 5:18 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


What does this have to do with gay marriage? Under some (but not other) constitutional arguments for gay marriage, polygamy could potentially also be legalized. The LDS does not want this because it would then have to practice it again and it has fought very hard for mainstream acceptance and that would set it back a lot.

And here I thought they opposed gay marriage due to plain ol' bigotry.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:19 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


The LDS does not want this because it would then have to practice it again

what a fantastic load of hooey. i do wonder if being strong armed into giving up polygamy (and being chased out of every state - sometimes with orders from the government to kill them - until they found one surrounded with big fucking mountains) is part of the fervency about their position now, but if polygamy became legal the current LDS chuch wouldn't re-adopt it. if you think that's honestly true, you should meet more mormons.
posted by nadawi at 5:21 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Under some (but not other) constitutional arguments for gay marriage, polygamy could potentially also be legalized. The LDS does not want this because it would then have to practice it again and it has fought very hard for mainstream acceptance and that would set it back a lot.

Given the way some people act like allowing gay marriage means they'll HAVE to go out and find themself a gay to gay marry, this doesn't sound so crazy.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:22 PM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Note to self: rehearse the following for the next argument with an anti-gay person (likely to come up during Christmas extended family socializing, actually):

"So just to be clear, you are happy to prevent a person who's shared 30 years with the love of their life from, ferinstance, being able to visit the love of their life in hospital intensive care units, or making burial arrangements for them? This is your idea of human compassion and a loving God?"

It won't change their minds, but I'll find it satisfying to highlight the anti-compassionate nature of their beliefs.

I'm glad to see Romney's photo op blow up in his face, but his "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman" mantra obfuscates the concrete damage that sanctimonious principle inflicts on real people.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:23 PM on December 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm not saying the LDS actually *would* re-adopt polygamy, I'm saying that their theology would mean that if polygamy was legal in the United States, it would be religiously ordained for them to do it. Read the relevant texts.
posted by Maias at 5:24 PM on December 12, 2011


The most shocking thing though: He was undecided beforehand.
posted by yellowcandy at 5:25 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


But is he capable of belief?

I thought a Mormon just believes.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:26 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


According to an NBC/Marist poll released yesterday, if the election were held today, Obama would beat either Romney or Gingrich--in South Carolina.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:26 PM on December 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


Here's the manifesto text that banned polygamy:

"Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I heareby declare my intention to submit to those laws, to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.

"There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.


Note the first sentence.
posted by Maias at 5:27 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and note the last sentence. See the problem?
posted by Maias at 5:28 PM on December 12, 2011


Note the first sentence.

Of which paragraph?
posted by kithrater at 5:29 PM on December 12, 2011


Still pretty sure the letter of the law isn't the primary factor in their opposition to gay marriage.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:29 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Back in 2004 during the presidential campaign, George Bush ordered his cheese steak "Whiz wit," while John Kerry asked for his with Swiss cheese, a misstep that solidified Kerry's effete reputation and made him the subject of ridicule across Philadelphia.

Mitt should'a had a Karl Rove whispering in his ear.
posted by ovvl at 5:31 PM on December 12, 2011


Basically, the reason polygamy is banned in the LDS is because it is illegal in the United States. The only reason they stopped practicing it was because the leadership had a "revelation" that it should no long be practiced when Utah wanted statehood and that was the condition.

That's part of the history of why polygamy in the mainstream church ended when it did. But it's not the reason for the church's continued refusal to practice plural marriage.

What does this have to do with gay marriage? Under some (but not other) constitutional arguments for gay marriage, polygamy could potentially also be legalized. The LDS does not want this because it would then have to practice it again and it has fought very hard for mainstream acceptance and that would set it back a lot.

Meh. I don't think the church would "then have to practice it again." A recent President of the church said on national television that plural marriage is not doctrine and that it is "behind us." Perfect historic consistency is not something the Mormon church has ever seemed to care much about.

I'm not saying the LDS actually *would* re-adopt polygamy, I'm saying that their theology would mean that if polygamy was legal in the United States, it would be religiously ordained for them to do it. Read the relevant texts.

The "relevant texts?" Show me one that was not rendered completely obsolete and moot when the prophet stated that polygamy is behind us, that we've moved on, and that it is not doctrine.

I strongly suspect that the primary reasons for the LDS church's opposition to same-sex marriage is the legal effect that it would have on things like LDS Family Services.

Here's the manifesto text that banned polygamy:

So what? That says nothing about the modern church's position on the matter.

Note the first sentence.
Oh, and note the last sentence. See the problem?

First, you don't seem to have read the second paragraph. Second, why are you reaching so far back in time for your sources? What makes you think that's authoritative?
posted by The World Famous at 5:33 PM on December 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


i have read the relevant texts. many times. i was raised mormon - i've probably read more church teachings than you've ever heard of. doctrine within the church is a lot more fluid than a lot of people outside the church realize. the way polygamy is taught is that it was a temporary thing that served its purpose. it's certainly a position that evolved over time and doesn't really fall in line with how it was preached during the early church - which really only strengthens my position that you're off your rocker if you think the church would be "forced" to readopt polygamy.
posted by nadawi at 5:35 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


and, of course, while i was typing The World Famous does a better job of explaining it.
posted by nadawi at 5:35 PM on December 12, 2011


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by alex_skazat at 5:38 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The best thing Romney could have said (politically, that is) would have been "my position on same-sex marriage is the same as President Obama's."

But that would be untrue. Romney stated right at the beginning of the clip that he's in favor of New Hampshire repealing its state law allowing marriage. Obama, as much as I find his lukewarm support of DOMA repellent, hasn't come out in favor of preventing states from passing their own laws in favor of gay marriage. He just doesn't support federal recognition of those marriages.

Once again, the Republicans' support of states' rights extends just as far as they agree with the decisions of the states.
posted by me & my monkey at 5:38 PM on December 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


But that would be untrue.

Hey, I didn't say it would be true. I said it would have been good politically.
posted by The World Famous at 5:42 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I strongly suspect that the primary reasons for the LDS church's opposition to same-sex marriage is the legal effect that it would have on things like LDS Family Services.

My more cynical view was that it was/is a great issue for the LDS to use to simultaneously raise their profile and bolster their appearance of being perfectly normal amongst Trinitarian Christians.
posted by kithrater at 5:42 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Our Fruit Puffs are divine!! Try them for yourself.

Sorry, sorry, too good to pass up. But I do love Romney seeing a Vietnam vet in a diner, assuming he's straight and then getting the proper correction. We are everywhere, Mitt, buddy. Welcome to our world.
posted by mediareport at 5:42 PM on December 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


Looking at that article, I see a man I would be proud to call my president... and Mitt Romney.
posted by Golfhaus at 5:43 PM on December 12, 2011 [26 favorites]


My more cynical view was that it was/is a great issue for the LDS to use to simultaneously raise their profile and bolster their appearance of being perfectly normal amongst Trinitarian Christians.

Yeah, I agree. I think the church has a nasty habit of trying to suck up to the very people who ran it out of the country in the 1800s and who continue to be its fiercest enemies.
posted by The World Famous at 5:44 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eight-year-old boy quietly tells Michele Bachmann: "My mom is gay and she doesn't need fixing." (video)
posted by Rhaomi at 5:45 PM on December 12, 2011 [19 favorites]


This makes me think of when Don't ask Don't tell was revoked. I figured that everyone who ever got out of military service by pretending to be gay should report for duty immediately. I'm just saying.
posted by jonmc at 5:50 PM on December 12, 2011


Social conservative opposition to gay marriage isn't necessarily or centrally predicated on something as directly logical as the effect gay marriage would have on church-related adoption services. Many social conservatives have a different mindset from people who are not social conservatives. They see people as being inherently "bad", in a way, but that the right kind of constructed society, following the right laid-down rules, makes people "good". What this means is that, even though a same sex marriage doesn't ostensibly affect them directly, they still see same sex marriage as eroding this thing called society which gives order to a world that would be otherwise chaos. If you try to see things through their lens, this makes even more sense when you factor in how things like no-fault divorce, single parenthood, the Pill, and financially independent women have already turned the idea of marriage into something not mandatory for a functioning society.

I don't have this point of view, but it makes sense to understand that this is how some people see the world. It's very different from how moderates, liberals, progressives, etc. typically see the world.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:51 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I agree. I think the church has a nasty habit of trying to suck up to the very people who ran it out of the country in the 1800s and who continue to be its fiercest enemies.

It will be interesting to see whether Gingrich plays the Kolob card against Romney. Given previous run-offs for Republican nominees have included allegations of secret love children, it certainly wouldn't be a new low. Maybe Gingrich wouldn't feel his redeemed sinner persona (a Catholic one at that) sturdy enough to survive taking things personal.
posted by kithrater at 5:54 PM on December 12, 2011


I appreciated Dan Savage's comment on this: "Let's pause for a moment to appreciate that we live at time when older gay couples in small-town coffee shops aren't afraid to get in the faces of bigoted politicians and out themselves to the national media in the process. It has gotten better."
posted by donovan at 5:58 PM on December 12, 2011 [89 favorites]


What does this have to do with gay marriage? Under some (but not other) constitutional arguments for gay marriage, polygamy could potentially also be legalized.

I apologize for getting off topic, but this argument makes no sense. Legally, marriage is a contract between two consenting adults, right? Unless I'm missing something big, any legal requirements or obligations between those 2 adults would remain exactly the same whether the couple were same sex or not. But once you start including additional people, the law HAS to change to reflect what is no longer a two person contract. If you were going to legalize polygamy you'd have to rework marriage law. That seems like argument enough against a slippery slope.
posted by biddeford at 6:00 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


<3 NH we've come a long way even in my short lifetime. I'm proud of my home state.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:03 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Religious intolerance on acts reaching back 3 generations: OK about conservatives.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:04 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The best thing Romney could have said (politically, that is) would have been "my position on same-sex marriage is the same as President Obama's."

Yes, this, please. Obama deserves as much shame as Romney. If not more, as Obama is in charge of the military and can actually do something about this issue.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:07 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you, like me, are down with some more Romney schadenfreude, then delight in this compilation of clips showing Mitt nervously laughing as he realizes his lifelong dream is slipping away.
posted by the_bone at 6:28 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Daily Show (or maybe it was Colbert, or possibly Maddow) pointed out that his little chuckle is supposed to serve as a signifier that the interview is over now.
posted by hippybear at 6:32 PM on December 12, 2011


It's like he's flying over shark infested waters, and lands on a rock, and it turns out to be the Kraken.
posted by chronkite at 6:33 PM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


You people are acting like Gingrich actually has a shot at the nomination. That's crazy.
posted by mediareport at 6:37 PM on December 12, 2011


In other Shit Romney Says news:
There was one vaguely notable incident during the debate: Mitt Romney challenged Rick Perry to a $10,000 bet (like normal people do all the time) over Perry's contention that Romney's position on healthcare mandates has flip-flopped. (It has.)

Naturally, people took notice of Romney's proposed wager, not just because he is wrongity-wrong, but also because it's maybe not the smartest idea he's ever had to flippantly bet 20% of the median US household annual income as if it's pocket change, while the country is in a virtual depression.
posted by odinsdream at 6:40 PM on December 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


Well, he has a shot at the nomination.

The thing is, everyone who works with Romney feels like he'd make a good president. Everyone who works with Gingrich is terrified of the idea of him becoming president.

The problem for the Republican establishment is that the voters seem to feel exactly the opposite from those who have actually worked with both of these men.

It's going to be an interesting election season, to say the least.
posted by hippybear at 6:41 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's going to be an interesting election season, to say the least.

Tedious, more like it. These daily up-and-down horse race episodes, much as the press monster and gossip hounds love them, are truly, fundamentally dull.
posted by mediareport at 6:50 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Obama deserves as much shame as Romney. If not more, as Obama is in charge of the military and can actually do something about this issue."

Except, of course,Obama has done something about the issue (...and many others), while Romney would roll back all these changes *and* support laws in an attempt to permanently block them from ever happening.
posted by markkraft at 6:56 PM on December 12, 2011 [20 favorites]


You people are acting like Gingrich actually has a shot at the nomination. That's crazy.

That's how I felt, until the Gingrich surge. For some reason that has snapped me back to attention. Because I find the idea that the Republican Party would actually nominate Newt Gingrich to be so astonishing and ridiculous that it's quite nearly delightful.

Newt Gingrich is a fatuous gasbag. Everyone knows this. Certainly anyone who has even the faintest recollection of his actual term as Speaker. Which must be most of the GOP primary audience, because their median voter went to high school with Moses. Yet, as the weeks go by, it comes to seem that they really do hate Romney that much.

After all, it's only two weeks to Christmas, nobody's going to be paying attention to any of this for about 10 days around the holidays, and boom, the Iowa caucuses are the 3rd of January. Practically speaking, it doesn't seem like there's enough time for his surge to die a natural death.

Anything could happen, of course. I certainly wouldn't bet a nickle on Gingrich not saying something that would torpedo his candidacy in the next three weeks. But good lord: If he wins Iowa and Romney comes in third behind Paul....anything could happen. It'd be a boon for me, because then I'd be free to not pay attention to the actual campaign for about six solid months in 2012, secure in the knowledge that the broader American public is most certainly not going to elect Newt Gingrich president. They'd have been listening to him non-stop for nine months straight by then; I'd lay you better odds that some member of the audience would snap and strangle him with their bare hands than that he would get elected POTUS.
posted by Diablevert at 7:07 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


The best part of this is that the guy looks like the iconic elder veteran. This isn't a guy who swapped in his uniform for a swishy cape and wants the government to support his boyfriend. He's a straight shooter with a firm handshake who looks you straight in the eye.

Symbolic gold.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:08 PM on December 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


I keep hearing that odinsdream but I think it's a buy-in to the 24/24 newscycle rather than being an actually significant thing. People know he's rich and he's a bit gawky/unnatural; they're not gonna jump aboard or off ship because of that small moment, seems to me.

I didn't think the coffeeshop exchange was a big thing either. The customer was very deferential and didn't challenge Romney and Romney gave, as someone said upthread, exactly the sort of canned response one might expect to hear from Obama. I wish the customer had been a bit more argumentative to be honest, arguing that it's a contract of love and not one of biological parts and the challenge against the institution is far greater from the divorce and cheating rate. Annnnnnyyyywwaaaaay, one couldn't expect this sort of encounter to change any minds on either side.

I know there's a plurality that favour gay marriage, but are they very solidly held views? Do people say they'll vote for a party that aligns with the view; or is it, as I suspect, just a "soft" belief that is trumped by every other damn issue of the day??
posted by peacay at 7:10 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


That was an intentional setup, right?!

It wasn't, but I'm going to claim it was because that was an awesome response.


No setup; this is what actually does work about parts of the wacky primary system. I lived in the Portsmouth area throughout the last two NH primaries, and these moments happened many times (Hilary's tears, etc) and when each one got noticed in the national media, you'd hear the speculation that the environment was manipulated, the person was a plant, etc. There are some events that are private, in which you can expect handpicked crowds, but for the most part, the candidates are in the wild, and anything can happen. Every time you see someone buying coffee at a mom and pop store, imagine a heterogenous fringe gathered around ready to talk anything from LaRouche to equal rights to gold standards to peak oil, and also a bunch of innocent people just caught in the middle of their day who didn't know they were about to be in a candidate appearance. It's a strange mix of an attempt by campaign strategists to manage a situation, and a situation which cannot really be fully managed because it takes place in real life.

That's what touched me about this event -- its genuineness. As the child of a Vietnam vet, I really feel my surly rising when I read how he gushed "Vietnam vet!!" as if he'd found an Easter egg, and sat down ready, apparently, to get a warm reception. The exploitation of veterans disgusts me, especially when they are conveniently tossed away after serving their role in electioneering and left high and dry by policy decisions. Not so fast.

And you're really taking your chances with a Vietnam vet, especially in NH, home of America's oldest newspaper and finest lefty fishwrap the Gazette, owned and edited by a 1st cavalry veteran of Vietnam. The former 'veterans, hey they're conservative, come stand behind me in this photo-op' rubric really broke down with Vietnam and continues with Gulf vets, who seem to be all over the map. Now that WWII vets are fewer you can't guarantee that they are going to rah-rah for you.

Anyway, go NH. Give 'em hell.
posted by Miko at 7:11 PM on December 12, 2011 [36 favorites]


I keep hearing that odinsdream but I think it's a buy-in to the 24/24 newscycle rather than being an actually significant thing. People know he's rich and he's a bit gawky/unnatural; they're not gonna jump aboard or off ship because of that small moment, seems to me.

I don't watch the news. I have no idea how it's playing or being presented. I do know it's fucking stupid to flippantly bet 10K like that, though.
posted by odinsdream at 7:17 PM on December 12, 2011


Yeah, the disturbing thing about Mitt Romney isn't that he holds conservative views, it's that he holds them but almost certainly doesn't believe in them.

He's a sociopath.
Ugh, that makes you an opportunistic douchebag, it does not make you a 'sociopath' Seriously.
posted by delmoi at 7:18 PM on December 12, 2011 [9 favorites]


That was a neat moment, and definitely shows how fast the center is shifting on gay rights. And I found it interesting how Romney had to scramble and looked a lot less comfortable when he had to answer the guy's question about taking away people's constitutional rights.
posted by Forktine at 7:20 PM on December 12, 2011


that makes you an opportunistic douchebag

"Politician". The word is "politician".
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:21 PM on December 12, 2011 [13 favorites]



I'm extremely touched by the vet's passion and integrity. As much as I hate to say it though, I feel like a lot of social conservatives will see this and feel that Romney acquitted himself nicely.

That could just be because the bar has been set so damn low by the rest of the Republican pool this season.
posted by sweetkid at 7:23 PM on December 12, 2011


The customer was very deferential and didn't challenge Romney and Romney gave, as someone said upthread, exactly the sort of canned response one might expect to hear from Obama. I wish the customer had been a bit more argumentative to be honest

I disagree with you here. I think the people who could be convinced by rational arguments were convinced a long time ago, what's needed now is an emotional hook. A dignified old veteran being denied benefits tugs on the heartstrings in a way no argument ever could.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:27 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


Obama, as much as I find his lukewarm support of DOMA repellent

Obama Supports Repeal of Defense of Marriage Act
posted by kirkaracha at 7:27 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


that makes you an opportunistic douchebag

"Politician". The word is "politician".


Tomayto. Tomahto.
posted by vidur at 7:28 PM on December 12, 2011


"The founders? I guess they'd probably say that I had three-fifths of a marriage. Constitutional rights don't end at the founders."
posted by klangklangston at 7:29 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


And you're really taking your chances with a Vietnam vet, especially in NH,

No kidding. The guy who volunteered his time to come teach us activist college kids how to properly go limp when being arrested was a Vietnam vet, and his New Hampshire accent was thick enough to cut with a knife. Had a beard and everything.
posted by rtha at 7:31 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


A dignified old veteran being denied benefits tugs on the heartstrings in a way no argument ever could.

I wish this were true, but there's a complication in that there's a bit of a bias against Vietnam veterans to this day. They don't behave predictably as a bloc, and many of them are driving movements like Veterans for Peace and other social change efforts as rtha says. Because they didn't take the same approach as WWII vets of sublimating or suppressing their traumas, a lot of people associate Vietnam veterans with anger, "whininess," reintegration problems resulting in homelessness and substance use, etc. Even the majority that are not struggling with extreme problems have made different meaning from their experiences, and have had different experiences with the US government and public, and express themselves in a range of independent ways, so unfortunately they don't benefit from quite the same halo effect that previous war veterans generally did.
posted by Miko at 7:38 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


But yeah, they still benefit from a little of that effect, so take my last comment with a grain. It's hard to look at someone who played by the rules and made serious sacrifices and think the worst.
posted by Miko at 7:40 PM on December 12, 2011


“Because you can’t trust him,” Garon said. “I just saw it in his eyes. I judge a man by his eyes.”

And that is the kind of thinking that fills parliaments, diets and congresses all over the world with charismatic dickheads. I judge a candidate by their actions, and I cast my vote by evaluating the respective policy positions of each party, their likelihood to follow-through on them, and the importance of their priorities and how they intersect with mine. You could be as eyeless as a Mexican cavefish, doesn't bother me.

Makes for a crappy soundbite, but I can't help wishing more people would give it a try.
posted by smoke at 7:43 PM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Anyone in government could win the GOP nomination at this point so long as the released tons of papers detailing their core values and never said a goddamn word in public.
posted by Slackermagee at 7:45 PM on December 12, 2011


As long as any candidate tells the TRUTH about their feelings, I'm game. Because in a republic (just like in 'capitalism') perfect information is the key to the whole thing working. I'm happy he reacted the way he did, because the public now knows more about him.

I'm much more concerned about the politicians that lie. It's kind of like being in a relationship. Don't tell me what I want to hear, tell me what you have to say, and let me decide the end game.

Good on Romney for sticking to his beliefs (or his parties beliefs, don't even get me started on the party system). And good on Romney for letting me know what his beliefs are. Makes my decision easier.
posted by one4themoment at 7:45 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone in government could win the GOP nomination at this point so long as the released tons of papers detailing their core values and never said a goddamn word in public.

So your money's on Huntsman, then?
posted by The World Famous at 7:46 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


malocchio: "I'm happy to see him confronted about the gay marriage "issue," but that bit about his grandfather is a cheap shot."

Nah. Fuck 'im.

Not letting two people who love each other get married, *that*'s the cheap shot.
posted by notsnot at 7:53 PM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


"If you were going to legalize polygamy you'd have to rework marriage law. That seems like argument enough against a slippery slope"

Good point biddeford.

Also... I know this FPP involves a healthy dose of LDS but can we go ahead and skip the comparison of homosexuality to polygamy.
posted by midmarch snowman at 8:24 PM on December 12, 2011


Marisa Stole the Precious Thing: "the Republican version of a Joe the Plumber moment."

Somewhat more eloquent.
posted by arcticseal at 9:20 PM on December 12, 2011


Meanwhile, on the other side of the GOP, Rick Perry's campaign aired a virulently homophobic ad. Almost immediately, someone noticed that his outfit looked awfully familiar, the parodies and responses started pouring in, and the video became the second most disliked thing on YouTube.

Things started getting really ugly when Perry went on TV defending the ad, started getting heckled at his own rallies, and his chief pollster was outed by a very angry group of gay conservatives (which also made some other gay conservatives very angry).

At this point, the SNL writers threw their hands up, disguised their studio as a debate hall, and invited Rick Perry to portray himself on the show, since the jokes really are writing themselves at this point....
posted by schmod at 9:25 PM on December 12, 2011 [15 favorites]


Not letting two people who love each other get married, *that*'s the cheap shot.

Absolutely. But that has nothing to do with how many wives his great grandfather had, unless Romney is on record as pro-polygamy (which I doubt).

If you want to make a big deal of it, don't be surprised when people put you in the same camp as the Birthers.
posted by malocchio at 9:36 PM on December 12, 2011


“I was undecided,” Garon said. But “I’m totally convinced today that he’s not going to be my president -- at least in my book. At least Obama will entertain the idea. This man is ‘no way, Jose.’ Well, take that ‘no way, Jose’ back to Massachusetts.”

But Massachusetts doesn't want him back. Not even if you kept his receipt.
posted by Spatch at 9:45 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here's a fun exercise: Watch the video and imagine how Bill Clinton would have handled that confrontation in 1992.
posted by The World Famous at 9:49 PM on December 12, 2011


I can't imagine Clinton doing one of these restaurant drop in things and it not ending up like this.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:53 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


You may think this is a colossal misstep for Romney, one that shows yet again how out of step he is with The People. While that may be true in terms of his electability in a general election, isn't his numero uno hurdle to prove to conservatives? That yes, he's THAT conservative and hates fags too, just like any old good American boy? Seems like this might go a long way towards proving to the Fox crowd that he is backing up his conservative message.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 9:54 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fuck Flip Romney!
posted by ericb at 10:14 PM on December 12, 2011


From the family history: Politically, a grandson was governor of a state and considered a candidate for President of the United States.
This is Romney's dad, George, Governor of Michigan famously tanking his presidential hopes with an off the cuff suggestion that he was subjected to CIA brainwashing in Southeast Asia
posted by hortense at 10:54 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except, of course,Obama has done something about the issue (...and many others)

A speech at a thousand-dollar-a-plate HRC fundraiser has little to do with our civil rights, and HRC has its own baggage as far as our ongoing struggle goes.

The sad reality remains that, of Obama and Romney, only Obama is in a position to do anything to address the wrongs done to Bob and his husband, and Obama has worked hard at sending the DoJ to repeatedly defend bad laws, be friends with religious leaders who would, in all truth, be happy to see gays and lesbians executed, and then take credit for other people's very hard work, decency and courage when he is finally forced off the fence.

Mitt Romney would be worse for GLBT folks, but, seriously, so what? Just about any Republican would be bad for all manner of minorities in this country, sexual or otherwise. Saying Romney would be worse doesn't mean a damn thing, and saying that certainly doesn't absolve Commander-in-Chief Obama of his own responsibilities and culpability for the situation that Bob and his partner — and many other couples — are in.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:17 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mitt Romney would be worse for GLBT folks, but, seriously, so what?

So it would be a bad thing to vote the person in who would be worse for the issue you care about, maybe?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:15 AM on December 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


So, the 10k bet thing, I think that's ridiculously overblown. Seriously, my 9 year old will bet you a million dollars on all sorts of topics, and I can tell you that his allowance wouldn't cover it. Mittens was using a rhetorical flourish, and to suggest that he was being literal is silly.

The gay rights issue...no Republican is going to support our gay friends and family. Prejudice is built in. It's a feature, not a bug. The republican party hates everyone who is not white, straight and rich. It's what they do.

That said, Mittens is still gonna get the nomination, and as lukewarm as Obama may be, he's leaps and bounds better than the party of hate.
posted by dejah420 at 4:25 AM on December 13, 2011


So it would be a bad thing to vote the person in who would be worse for the issue you care about, maybe?

It's tough to fight back that kind of rhetoric, where every response to legitimate criticism is met with a vote-our-way-or-die response. It is the same kind of bullying I witnessed back in 2004, when Bush scared the public into voting for him out of fear of Muslims. But if Romney ever gets up to a debate podium with Obama, at least he could say, "I'm just a registered Republican—what's your excuse?" That's probably the one thing Romney could say with a straight face, and he'd be right about that question, even while being wrong about everything else.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:57 AM on December 13, 2011


Oh, God, I loved that Clinton SNL sketch! The memories... And *snif* I really miss Phil Hartman.
posted by Miko at 5:13 AM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power ...to deny gay veterans their rights. Then when you get the power deny gay veterans their rights, then you get the women.

No, wait, first your grandfather gets the women, then you get the power to deny gay veterans their rights, then you gotta make the money so they don't get in your face.
The world, chico, and everything in it.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:21 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


that certainly doesn't absolve Commander-in-Chief Obama of his own responsibilities and culpability for the situation that Bob and his partner — and many other couples — are in.

In my reality, Commander-in-Chief Obama repealed DADT.

Also, in my reality, Bob and his partner can get married in the State of New Hampshire - in which they conveniently reside.

Your reality seems to be a lot more dire and I'm not entirely sure what's going on in it.

Sure, gay marriage as a federal issue needs to be resolved and Obama is not the guy who wants to do it - but I'm really not seeing how "Commander-in-Chief Obama" is failing the GLBT members of the military and also have absolutely no idea what you're insinuating by the "situation" that Bob and his partner happen to be in.

[ This is not to say that I think that GLBT rights in this country don't have a hell of a long way to go, I'm just saying that this one specific comment seems like a lot of words that don't make sense to me when placed in that order. ]
posted by sonika at 5:35 AM on December 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's tough to fight back that kind of rhetoric, where every response to legitimate criticism is met with a vote-our-way-or-die response. It is the same kind of bullying I witnessed back in 2004

It's not bullying to point out that Republicans - particularly the ones running for president right now - are worse than the guy currently in office when it comes to lgbt issues.
posted by rtha at 5:54 AM on December 13, 2011


I'm really not seeing how "Commander-in-Chief Obama" is failing the GLBT members of the military and also have absolutely no idea what you're insinuating by the "situation" that Bob and his partner happen to be in.

The "situation" is simply the one Bob describes: his partner is not eligible for the benefits straight military spouses are eligible for.

Obama is failing the GLBT members of the military by accepting that situation because he doesn't want to risk losing homophobic voters in his next election.

Not sure what's unclear about any of that.
posted by mediareport at 5:56 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's tough to fight back that kind of rhetoric, where every response to legitimate criticism is met with a vote-our-way-or-die response. It is the same kind of bullying I witnessed back in 2004

Dude, whoah, hang on. I am not at all saying telling you "vote my way or die" nor am I bullying (???) you.

Your criticism of Obama's GLBT policy is legitimate. His policy is bad. Romney's is worse. You asked "so what?", and my response would have to honestly be that if you don't want a policy worse than Obama's, then it follows that you wouldn't vote for the people whose policies are worse than Obama's, yeah?

This is not at all mutually exclusive to taking the Democrats to task to do better, and there are numerous ways you can do that. But the math is pretty simple here.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:13 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


The gay rights issue...no Republican is going to support our gay friends and family.

Except the Log Cabin Republicans of course.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:18 AM on December 13, 2011


mediareport: "Obama is failing the GLBT members of the military by accepting that situation because he doesn't want to risk losing homophobic voters in his next election."

It worked for Johnson, who would never have been in a position to push for the CRA, VRA, and so on had he come out in favor of the brown people before he was President, but I guess we should bitch and moan that he wasn't on the not-racist train early enough. That seems to be the done thing around here lately.

As long as there are enough racist/homophobic/whatever people to deny a person who doesn't at least make not-disagreeable noises in their direction any office of power, it's better politically to placate the bigots until they can't do anything to you, otherwise you'll just end up thrown out on your ass and doing nobody any good. It's not like the people who are still against marriage equality are going to be shamed or cajoled into changing their mind.

I'd love it if politics wasn't such a messy thing. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry christmas.
posted by wierdo at 7:28 AM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man, this is almost like the Republican version of a Joe the Plumber moment.

You mean that guy's not gay OR a veteran?
posted by coolguymichael at 8:06 AM on December 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


There's a lot of arguing and derailing going on in this thread, and I get the sense that everyone's dancing around the big question that no one really wants to ask. So I may as well go ahead and answer it for the record.

Chez Vachon only has the second best poutine in Manchester, despite having a variety of delicious add-ons (turkey, beef, etc). The best straightforward fry/gravy/curd poutine is at Suzie Q's.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:34 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


The "situation" is simply the one Bob describes: his partner is not eligible for the benefits straight military spouses are eligible for.

Obama is failing the GLBT members of the military by accepting that situation because he doesn't want to risk losing homophobic voters in his next election.


Ok, so, here's the question then: CAN Obama fix that? I mean this honestly - if he decided that this was going to be the way things are RIGHT NOW - is that what it would take to get it done? Is it as simple as a Presidential order? I'm thinking it's probably more complicated and having to do with same-sex marriage being recognized on a federal level, which yes, absolutely needs to be done.

What I'm saying is that I agree that GLBT rights in this country have a long way to go. I don't agree with laying all of the blame at Obama's feet alone. There are plenty of other people in this country not doing their part as well. Making Obama the fall guy for "Well, same-sex military spouses would have benefits, except for HIM!" is disingenuous - no politician in the US is going to do that right now. Even if he could do it because it's the right thing to do, no President in a re-election year is going to get near that one. Because you're right, he can't win without the homophobe vote.
posted by sonika at 8:47 AM on December 13, 2011


Obama is failing the GLBT members of the military by accepting that situation because he doesn't want to risk losing homophobic voters in his next election.

I call that good strategy. He needs as many voters as he can possibly keep in the next election. If he doesn't get them, we'll have a Republican President, who will definitely not enact equal rights policies. I don't think Obama loses many voters to homophobia, but he does have one very important sector he needs to keep, which is older socially conservative church-going black voters. I don't intend to throw them under the bus Prop-8 style, but his victory coalition in 2008 depended on the 96% of black voters who came out to support him. This is probably the sector he is being mindful of when he refuses to clearly declare support for equal rights universally.

That is not necessarily a satisfying strategy for people who want all of this to happen yesterday, and 'be patient' is never what you want to hear as an activist for obvious human rights. But we are dealing with the art of the possible, and by playing the long game, there is a good chance the other pieces will fall into place in Obama's second term. By taking the issue on now, he reduces his chances of re-election, we open the door to Republicans using things like ending DADT as a wedge issue which is just as effective as any further action Obama would take now, and getting into office in 2012 rather than 2016, when the whole thing may be far more settled and another contingent of seniors who are now adding their weight to the anti-gay voting bloc will no longer be around.
posted by Miko at 8:49 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obama is failing the GLBT members of the military by accepting that situation because he doesn't want to risk losing homophobic voters in his next election.

I call that good strategy. He needs as many voters as he can possibly keep in the next election. If he doesn't get them, we'll have a Republican President, who will definitely not enact equal rights policies. I don't think Obama loses many voters to homophobia, but he does have one very important sector he needs to keep, which is older socially conservative church-going black voters. I don't intend to throw them under the bus Prop-8 style, but his victory coalition in 2008 depended on the 96% of black voters who came out to support him. This is probably the sector he is being mindful of when he refuses to clearly declare support for equal rights universally.

That is not necessarily a satisfying strategy for people who want all of this to happen yesterday, and 'be patient' is never what you want to hear as an activist for obvious human rights. But we are dealing with the art of the possible, and by playing the long game, there is a good chance the other pieces will fall into place in Obama's second term. By taking the issue on now, he reduces his chances of re-election, we open the door to Republicans using things like ending DADT as a wedge issue which is just as effective as any further action Obama would take now, and getting into office in 2012 rather than 2016, when the whole thing may be far more settled and another contingent of seniors who are now adding their weight to the anti-gay voting bloc will no longer be around.


or maybe, he's got actually evolving views on the question like a lot of people. Not everyone on this issue agrees. It seems to me like the guy was a one-step-at-a-time guy but as he makes more decisions on the matter, the more he sees real impact on people and the more it changes his mind.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:33 AM on December 13, 2011


Miko wrote...
By taking the issue on now, he reduces his chances of re-election, we open the door to Republicans using things like ending DADT as a wedge issue

I'm pretty sure that door is already open, and that we'll be hearing lots and lots about it.

I do agree that aggravating the situation isn't going to help his re-election chances though.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:49 AM on December 13, 2011


or maybe, he's got actually evolving views on the question like a lot of people.

*laughs*

Here's my favorite take on that:

President Obama Won’t Say If He’ll Stop Pretending to Oppose Gay Marriage Before the Election

Nearly a year ago, President Obama told a blogger that his views on gay marriage — Obama ostensibly supports civil unions — were evolving, and ever since, he's been asked periodically whether that evolution is yet complete. Earlier today George Stephanopoulos tried again, and Obama told him, again, that he wasn't ready to "make news right now."

Then Stephanopoulos asked Obama whether he would finish "evolving" before the 2012 election. If Stephanopoulos believed that Obama was actually wrestling with the issue, this would be a bizarre question to ask, since Obama's change of heart wouldn't have a timeline (if it occurs at all). By asking it, then, Stephanopoulos was dropping all pretense that Obama's ongoing "evolution" is sincere. But maybe tweaking the question would trick Obama into betraying his intentions? Nope. "I'm still working on it," Obama told him.


Anyway: Miko, your position would make more sense to me if the majority of Americans *didn't* support gay marriage, but at this point, we're at worst around 50/50. I've said here before that I think the "avoid energizing your left-wing base to aim for waffling center-right voters" strategy is a generally losing one for the Dems, ceding not only elections but also essential framing of any number of arguments over issues. I think the evidence is clear on that over the last 20 years. I think it's also clear that the frightened centrist asses who run the Democratic Party would rather lose elections than lose their spot at the top of that party, and their continuing outright refusal to energize the Democratic base in any kind of meaningful way only helps spread the odious political philosophy of the Koch brothers and their conservative Republican enablers. Failing to stand up clearly and forcefully for the values they claim their party represents in order to continue a generally failing political strategy is absurd.

A sharp, articulate politician could tilt the balance with a single coordinated push, removing gay equality as a wedge issue permanently, thus benefiting both a major part of his base *and* doing immeasurable good for the Democratic Party for the foreseeable future.

Yes, I'm serious. Obama is great at speeches, if little else; if he did 3-4 weeks on gay equality on the campaign trail we could end this "debate" for good. Instead, his advisers flee shrieking from a simple, basic, American notion like gay equality, absurdly worried about losing the waffling 1% in the middle instead of rousing more troops who are already with him on the issues. This is an old argument, nothing new to most of us. I'm just making my position in the debate as clear as I can.

Honestly, I think the last thing the centrist asses running the Democratic Party want is an energized left-leaning base, but I'll leave that for another time. I have to get back to work.
posted by mediareport at 11:14 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else notice that Bob's husband is also named Bob? That's just adorable.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:18 AM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


A new video has surfaced from Mitt Romney's 2002 campaign for Massachusetts governor.

Says 'Flip' in the clip:
"I think the old standby definitions of who votes for which party have been blown away in this campaign. I think people recognize that I'm not a partisan Republican, that I'm someone who is moderate, and that my views are progressive."
posted by ericb at 12:10 PM on December 13, 2011


Thomas Roberts Speaks to Gay Vietnam Vet Who Confronted Romney: VIDEO.
posted by ericb at 12:13 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, and memories of Romney's unsuccesful campaign to take over Ted Kennedy's senate seat in 1994: I’ll be better than Ted for gay rights.
posted by ericb at 12:20 PM on December 13, 2011


or maybe, he's got actually evolving views on the question like a lot of people.

He definitely has evolving views.

NY Times: In 1996, as a candidate for the State Senate in Illinois, Mr. Obama responded to a questionnaire from a gay newspaper. “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages,” Mr. Obama wrote, “and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.”
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:03 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyway: Miko, your position would make more sense to me if the majority of Americans *didn't* support gay marriage, but at this point, we're at worst around 50/50.

If that were evenly divided among all the states and between urban and rural Congressional districts, you're right, it would be much less of a problem. But it's definitely not so conveniently divided at the moment, and Republicans are still making hay and raising money while running on the issue (or this FPP would not exist).
posted by Miko at 1:15 PM on December 13, 2011


Man, this is almost like the Republican version of a Joe the Plumber moment.

Except, Marisa Stole the Precious Thing, that Bob Garon is actually named "Bob", he is almost undoubtedly a gay Vietnam veteran, and he actually understood at least a few details about the issue he was debating.

He'll still become a joke to the diehard of the opposite party (though probably not to mainstream America).
posted by IAmBroom at 1:19 PM on December 13, 2011


He'll still become a joke to the diehard of the opposite party

Are you kidding me? They finally found a palatable reason for the outcome in Vietnam!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:22 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, since a number of people have brought up this comment already, let me expand on my point:

I did say "almost". Bob is not Joe the Plumber. Joe the Plumber was an opportunistic blowhard who had his facts all wrong, and stepped up to Obama in order to spout gibberish. It was Mitt who approached Bob, who in turn asked a factual, matter-of-fact question to the candidate.

In both instances, we have a candidate who has an unfortunate and potentially egg-facing encounter with someone while on the campaign trail. That's what I was referring to.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:23 PM on December 13, 2011


Yeah, as I thought. While the majority of Americans polled across the board now favor legal marriage for gays and lesbians, that majority is heavily skewed toward Democrats and liberals. There was zero percentage change in the number of Republicans who favor it (28%) over the last two years and only an incremental climb since 1996, while the majority across all parties has climbed much faster. In other words, more members of that majority come from independents and the left.

Young Republican voters favor equal rights in much higher numbers than those over 35, but because the party's supporters skew older, this difference is offset at present and will be until there is more attrition in the group presently over 55 and these younger voters age up.

In other words, the best bet for being elected as a Republican is to campaign anti-gay. The majority and the money will be with you for some time to come.
posted by Miko at 1:36 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was zero percentage change in the number of Republicans who favor it (28%)

In other words, the best bet for being elected as a Republican is to campaign anti-gay


I'm not sure these two points follow each other. I think it's more important how many Republicans strongly disapprove of gay marriage. If that's a high number then an anti-gay stance makes sense, otherwise they're just annoying the 28% for no reason.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:22 PM on December 13, 2011


That is not necessarily a satisfying strategy for people who want all of this to happen yesterday

Since this dismissive "yesterday" trope keeps getting trotted out whenever there is legitimate criticism, I'd be happy if a better strategy happened today, with the people I helped elect to make things happen today and along the series of todays that happened between the day after election and today.

The sad reality is that we were promised a better tomorrow in some vague period of time after the past election, and now we're coming to the election after that, despite promises made and long forgotten in yesterdays past.

Romney's sin is to bow to the Republican machine on social policy, in order to get nominated. He can't do anything about Bob's situation today, because today he isn't Commander-in-Chief. Moral courage is doing the right thing today (and every day). What's his opponent's excuse?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:39 PM on December 13, 2011


Moral courage is doing the right thing today (and every day). What's his opponent's excuse?

His excuse is he wants to get re-elected. To me, this is a good excuse, because anyone else being elected would pose far worse problem for me and most people I know.

I understand that you don't like how things are right now. You don't have to vote for Obama if you want to send that message. The problem is, then you and everyone else has to live with the consequences.
posted by Miko at 3:47 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, second thought,

the people I helped elect to make things happen today

is really important - but it's not just one guy. We elected the PResident and gave him a Democractic Congress. They futzed around and argued amongst themselves and pissed away their majority shamefully. Now we're back in a situation where no matter what the great proposal, it's not going to pass. We just have to get a lot better at the non-Big Guy races and start holding people at the district and state level far more accountable.

I'm not sure these two points follow each other. I think it's more important how many Republicans strongly disapprove of gay marriage.

"Gay marriage is very important to your vote," 41% in 2008, still a strong plurality when added to those for whom it might take a second seat to other ideologies or tax issues but important.
posted by Miko at 3:52 PM on December 13, 2011


Asking Obama to display the moral courage to help Bob and his husband is asking Obama to take the country one step forward today and the probably watch whole country taken two (or three or ten) steps backward in 14 months.

Think about gun control. Obama clearly favors it, but it's a loser of an issue. We would lose far more in the long run than we could gain in the short term. Win a battle today, but be more likely lose the war on Nov 6 next year? No, IMHO, it's best to play the probabilities, as distasteful as that may be.
posted by haiku warrior at 4:03 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Again, a large majority of both Democrat and Independent voters support gay marriage equality. Miko, you noted, "the best bet for being elected as a Republican is to campaign anti-gay," and mention independents briefly, but look at your linked poll again: it says that 59% of independents and 69% of Democrats are fine with gay marriage. You link supports my point: there is a winning coalition to be forged there, and it shouldn't be that hard to get those numbers up by, you know, actually *trying* to make the case from the White House bully pulpit. Obama's great at that shit. Instead, he shies away as if the argument itself is political toxin.

Suggesting that the only politically viable course of action is to flee from any sort of public support for gay marriage equality when 69% of Democrats and 59% of independents say they're ok with it makes absolutely no sense to me at all.
posted by mediareport at 4:12 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Did anyone else notice that Bob's husband is also named Bob? That's just adorable.

Yeah, I've known more than a few gay couples who have same names. Rick and Rick, Dave and Dave, etc.

I've know heterosexual couples who are pretty close. Jack and Jackie, for example. (The real horror there is that they named their kids Jim, Joey, and Jonathan, and their dogs were Jill and Jenny.)
posted by hippybear at 5:44 PM on December 13, 2011


"Are you kidding me? They finally found a palatable reason for the outcome in Vietnam!"

One of my worst canvassing conversations was with a Vietnam vet who blamed gays for losing Vietnam. Of course, the reason why those gays cost America the war, according to this vet, was because their vibrational fields stood out to the Vietcong and also they forced other service men to fall in love with them through "gnostic warbles."

It was even worse because it was raining and I had to share an overhang with the guy.
posted by klangklangston at 6:17 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Moral courage is doing the right thing today (and every day). What's his opponent's excuse?

Could you explain a little more about what you want him to do? I'm honestly confused. Is it just a matter of taking to the bully pulpit and attempting to sway public opinion? Do you want him to put a bill forward in Congress to repeal DOMA?

I'm just not sure, practically, what you feel could be done at the federal level at this point. I don't think the votes are anywhere near there to repeal the law, especially in the House. There are a couple lawsuits challenging its constitutionality wending their way through the courts right now. Even if DOMA were repealed, many of the more socially conservative states have written heterosexual-only definitions of marriage into their own constitutions; in that sense, making gay marriage legal is a state-by-state fight which will obviously take years and maybe decades. The feds have stopped defending DOMA at the administration's behest and said they feel it's bad law. "Don't ask, don't tell" has been repealed by Congress.

What do you feel like is left on the fed's plate that they can tackle at this point that the administration has been avoiding?

I don't want this to come off as snarky. I haven't followed the issue all that closely, and there certainly may be stuff I don't know about. Based on my current level of knowledge, I would agree that Obama certainly hasn't been front and enter trying to lead the change on this one, and I can certainly see where some might critique him for that. But while he could certainly make a few powerful symbolic gestures on this issue --- which he has chosen not to do, and which may well put him on the wrong side of history --- I'm not sure what he could do practically at this point.
posted by Diablevert at 7:05 PM on December 13, 2011


59% of independents and 69% of Democrats are fine with gay marriage.

Independents are not non-ideologues, though, and it's not as though 59% of independents are currently pr0 gay marriage. This piece quotes a 2010-Pew poll as saying "55% of political independents opposed to same-sex marriage and 34% in favor of it.” That seems like hey, 55% of independents + 69% of Democrats = WIN! But it's not so simple.

Independents aren't single-issue voters. Their stances on taxation, government spending, environment and climate, regulation, and other social issues are in the mix. They are extremely responsive to mood and to softer qualities in candidates such as personal presence. So they don't easily glom together into a coalition once you add any other issue besides gay marraige into the decisionmaking process:

When asked which party comes closer to their views on major issues, independent voters prefer Republicans on foreign policy and economic issues but are more divided on social issues. More say the Republican Party comes closer to their views on foreign policy and national security (by 44% to 30%), but the GOP’s lead is more modest on economic issues (43% to 34%). And slightly more independents say the Democratic Party (39%) rather than the Republican Party (33%) better reflects their views on social issues such as gay marriage and abortion. In this regard, more than twice as many independent voters than Republican voters favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally (45% vs. 20%).

Which is awesome, but what drives the decision at the polls? If it's not gay marriage, if they feel more concenred with economic issues or national security or taxation, then despite their personal acceptance of gay marriage they will probably not pull the lever for a candidate based just upon their stance for legalizing it.

We're just not there yet. It's a tense system. For all those of us who are saying "I want this done NOW," there are conservatives saying the same about DOMA being constitutional law and ending abortion. THey don't get their way by wishing any more than we do. It's going to take some more work. Or just time. The writing is on the wall for marriage equality by 20 years from now. How much sooner we can get there is determined by basically one thing - our own level of direct involvement in the political process, including reading the news, knowing our representatives' stances and talking with them about them no matter which side they're on now, communicating with people about the issue who don't already think the same way we do, and donating to people we want to see in office.
posted by Miko at 7:34 PM on December 13, 2011


We're just not there yet.

I really don't understand why you're not hearing what I'm saying, Miko, but apologize for being unclear, apparently. Let me try again: If, as you suggest, "despite their personal acceptance of gay marriage [independent voters] will probably not pull the lever for a candidate based just upon their stance for legalizing it," then I suggest the reverse is also true:

If Obama were to take a stand strongly in favor of gay equality, the vast majority of the independent voters who might already be inclined to vote for him will not be made less so inclined by his pro-equality positions.

Do you agree with that, Miko? Specifically just that? You note, "It's going to take some more work." Yes, and Obama should start doing that work. Right fucking now. Gay marriage could be off the table as a political issue by next March, if he put his mind to it.

And again, my position is 1) any feared losses from center-right voters are mostly illusory - those folks wouldn't have voted for Obama anyway, 2) what few losses there will be are more than made up for by increased votes and energy from the left-pole of Obama's base, and 3) putting a stake through the heart of conservative's ability to use gay marriage as a wedge issue in mainstream political discourse would yield enormous benefits to Democrats over the foreseeable future.

"We're just not there yet?" Yes, exactly, precisely because Obama is listening to advisers who are telling him to run scared from gay marriage, rather than doing the smart, most politically expedient thing: attacking anti-gay bigotry head-on and inspiring America to be better.

It's a winning issue, Miko. Not something to be scared of. I wish I could make you see that, but I've done my best.

Diablevert, I want him to *campaign* for it, to at least attempt to convince people it's the right thing to do. That he's not even bothering to try is a disgusting stain on his presidency. Not the biggest, by far, but it's the one under discussion here.

It's a cowardly, stupid blot. Sorry, but there's no way around that.
posted by mediareport at 8:10 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Gay marriage could be off the table as a political issue by next March, if he put his mind to it."

This is total fantasy land thinking. Gay marriage would still be FUCKING HUGE in November if Obama did any fiat moves. Even if he just came out for it and did his usual vacillation.

"And again, my position is 1) any feared losses from center-right voters are mostly illusory - those folks wouldn't have voted for Obama anyway,

Nope. Obama's done really well with ethnic minorities and still wants the Hispanic vote. Coming out for gay marriage will, if not make significant numbers vote against him, decrease social conservative turnout that otherwise would have gone for him.

2) what few losses there will be are more than made up for by increased votes and energy from the left-pole of Obama's base

God, if only. But there's literally less than zero empirical evidence to support this assertion.

"and 3) putting a stake through the heart of conservative's ability to use gay marriage as a wedge issue in mainstream political discourse would yield enormous benefits to Democrats over the foreseeable future."

This is more wishful thinking. Roe v. Wade didn't end the ability of conservatives to use abortion as a wedge issue. What gets us past using same-sex marriage as a wedge is when the next generation gets over the ick factor.

Look, not even the gay rights organization that I work for (who legalized gay marriage once) wants Obama to go out on a limb for this before 2012. The best shot is still the Supreme Court, and I'm glad that any national decision will come after November.
posted by klangklangston at 12:20 AM on December 14, 2011


God, if only. But there's literally less than zero empirical evidence to support this assertion.

You have a cite for Obama being in sudden danger of losing social conservatives though, right?

I don't think you can solve this issue politically that quickly, but I think he could drive those numbers in favor up another 5-10% and drastically decrease the time this is going to take. I don't really care that it's politically hard, not being a coward mouthing a pathetic bigoted line at an oppressed group has its own rewards.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:46 AM on December 14, 2011


And again, my position is 1) any feared losses from center-right voters are mostly illusory - those folks wouldn't have voted for Obama anyway, 2) what few losses there will be are more than made up for by increased votes and energy from the left-pole of Obama's base, and 3) putting a stake through the heart of conservative's ability to use gay marriage as a wedge issue in mainstream political discourse would yield enormous benefits to Democrats over the foreseeable future.

Oh, okay. I think we're going to be doomed to disagree on this, because I don't think any of those things are true. Especially not the last --- in fact I'd argue the opposite. The conservative movement has spent the past 40 years making wedge issues of things liberals have the law on their side on --- a transition to gay marriage which comes gradually on a state by state basis rather than all at once through a sweeping court ruling, has a much better chance of ceasing to be a wedge issue, in my opinion. The politics of resentment have been a startlingly effective tactic for conservatives.

In re 2), I just don't think the math works on that. Twice as many American voters call themselves "conservative" vs. the amount who call themselves "liberal". (See here or here.) Some of those conservatives may occasionally vote for the Democratic candidate in a given race in a given context, but they'd be Blue Dogs. Obama simply doesn't have as big a base to get "fired up." There's a fair possibility that evangelicals won't be super happy with the Republican nominee if it's Romney or Gingrich, which may tend to keep some of them home. Obama going out and stumping about how important it is that gay marriage be legalized everywhere would reverse that in a hurry.

But I think the election will really be decided by the 30-odd percent of voters who call themselves moderates and the slim proportion among them who really can swing either way. I think making gay marriage a major issue would be an echo of what that group considers Obama's besetting sin --- focusing on passing Obama Care to the detriment of doing something about the economy. Insert Clinton slogan here. You and I may know that the health care bill is very far from a liberal's dream. But I think the thumbnail reckoning the average voter has is that national health care is and has been a huge item on the liberal wish list, and that's what he spent his political capital on, even as the economy was going to utter shit. I think that and not going after the banks are the two big things people blame him for. Again, I don't know how much of that, in reality, could have been remedied. Presidents have less power over the economy than people think.

But to make gay marriage into a major issue in 2012 would, I think, come off to most moderate voters as choosing to focus on trivial liberal wish list items instead of what ought to be the country's true priorities. It would convince them that he doesn't get what's important.
posted by Diablevert at 4:23 AM on December 14, 2011


Yeah, the impasse is clear. You think gay equality is a losing issue in 2012. I think it could be a winning issue with not very much effort.

Not much else to say. The large majority of the people inclined to vote for Obama next year are already leaning in favor of gay marriage. All they need is an articulate leader to give them a reason to get over their last remaining hesitancy. Gosh, I wonder who that could be?

This is total fantasy land thinking.

*laughs* That's exactly what folks told me on soc.motss in the mid-90s when I said I was sure gay marriage would be legal in the United States by, oh, 2017. klang, gay marriage as a political issue could be over by this time next year.
posted by mediareport at 5:32 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, I guess there is one last thing to say. Clinton supporters used the exact same argument back in 1996 when their boy signed the Defense of Marriage Act as the "realistic" Obama supporters are using here. The exact same argument.

I was willing to concede the point back in 1996. I think it's insanity to concede the point in 2011.
posted by mediareport at 5:49 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


You have a cite for Obama being in sudden danger of losing social conservatives though, right?

I do. I pulled the data from the 2008 NES -- you can do this too at electionstudies.org; it's free gratis. Here's the straight-up distribution of opinion on same-sex marriage among Obama voters:
. tab gaym if obama==1

        X16. R position on gay marriage |      Freq.     Percent        Cum.
----------------------------------------+-----------------------------------
                            -9. Refused |         10        0.98        0.98
                         -8. Don't know |         15        1.46        2.44
                   1. Should be allowed |        445       43.41       45.85
               3. Should not be allowed |        315       30.73       76.59
5. Should not be allowed to marry but s |        224       21.85       98.44
               7. Other {VOL} {SPECIFY} |         16        1.56      100.00
----------------------------------------+-----------------------------------
                                  Total |      1,025      100.00
Which is to say, as of 2008, most Obama voters were not fine with gay marriage.

A larger problem is that the Democratic coalition has significant elements that trend, but not universally, towards social conservatism, especially blacks and Catholics. In particular, 40% of Obama voters were black, and black opinion on SSM is notably more conservative. To be sure, the important thing here is less the direction of the black vote than black turnout; there were just two black respondents who voted for McCain. Anyway, the opinion of black Obama voters is like this:
. tab gaym if obama==1 & black==1

        X16. R position on gay marriage |      Freq.     Percent        Cum.
----------------------------------------+-----------------------------------
                            -9. Refused |          6        1.44        1.44
                         -8. Don't know |          5        1.20        2.64
                   1. Should be allowed |        120       28.85       31.49
               3. Should not be allowed |        198       47.60       79.09
5. Should not be allowed to marry but s |         81       19.47       98.56
               7. Other {VOL} {SPECIFY} |          6        1.44      100.00
----------------------------------------+-----------------------------------
                                  Total |        416      100.00
Opinion among Obama voters would almost certainly start being even less favorable towards SSM once you started breaking it down by state, but NES regional subsamples can start getting hinky pretty fast. If you really want, I can pull down a larger 2008 study (the CCES) but it looks like the data default to SPSS and that's a pain in my ass.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:32 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fuck. That 40% isn't right -- I forgot that the NES oversamples black respondents by about two. The right ballpark is 25% of Obama voters were black. Which is still a great big bunch of Obama voters that tend to not like SSM.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:38 AM on December 14, 2011


25% of Obama voters were black

That seems a little high, but yes, you're right, ROU, that higher rates of black opposition to same-sex marriage is a major reason Dems like Obama and his advisers won't commit to it.

Which, of course, is exactly why Obama is so well-placed to address the issue. Again, what I'm asking for is a thoughtful, forceful presentation of basic arguments in favor of equality under the law for everyone. He even gets to invoke Coretta as much as he wants. That he's not even bothering to try what, to me, seems clearly a winnable move is a sign of political cowardice.
posted by mediareport at 7:06 AM on December 14, 2011


mediareport: "Which, of course, is exactly why Obama is so well-placed to address the issue. Again, what I'm asking for is a thoughtful, forceful presentation of basic arguments in favor of equality under the law for everyone."

I would love for him to do that. In December 2012, after he wins (or doesn't, it doesn't really matter) the election. Until then, I'm going to sit here in my 'fraidy hole hoping he can hammer on the issues that won't divide the electorate against him and pull out a win despite the economy, which is in itself a big enough headwind against him to cost him the election.
posted by wierdo at 8:04 AM on December 14, 2011


Did anyone else notice that Bob's husband is also named Bob? That's just adorable.

I once knew a couple who's names were both Robert.

They introduced themselves saying "Hi, we're Oral Roberts."

[groan]
posted by General Tonic at 10:33 AM on December 14, 2011


"You have a cite for Obama being in sudden danger of losing social conservatives though, right?

I don't think you can solve this issue politically that quickly, but I think he could drive those numbers in favor up another 5-10% and drastically decrease the time this is going to take. I don't really care that it's politically hard, not being a coward mouthing a pathetic bigoted line at an oppressed group has its own rewards.
"

So, now that a cite has been provided (thanks, ROU!), you'll provide your own evidence for this oft-heralded, never seen surge from the base?

"Yeah, the impasse is clear. You think gay equality is a losing issue in 2012. I think it could be a winning issue with not very much effort.

Not much else to say. The large majority of the people inclined to vote for Obama next year are already leaning in favor of gay marriage. All they need is an articulate leader to give them a reason to get over their last remaining hesitancy. Gosh, I wonder who that could be?
"

The impasse is clear: You're asserting something based on zero evidence (same-sex marriage is, what, 0-34 at the polls?) based on wishful thinking that happens to agree with your biases.

I wonder who that leader could be too, since it's clearly not Obama.

"*laughs* That's exactly what folks told me on soc.motss in the mid-90s when I said I was sure gay marriage would be legal in the United States by, oh, 2017. klang, gay marriage as a political issue could be over by this time next year."

Support your point with real evidence. That your stopped clock is right twice a day is not evidence for it being 3:30. Especially when you're showing a startlingly naive view of American electoral politics.
posted by klangklangston at 10:58 AM on December 14, 2011


All they need is an articulate leader to give them a reason to get over their last remaining hesitancy.

Hesitancy to do.....what, exactly? Turn it over in their minds and decide, "eh, I guess I don't care if the gays get married"? That's the point I keep returning to, when I think about what you're saying...it just feels a little Underpants Gnomes-y to me. Like:

1) Obama comes out in favor of gay marriage
2) Obama's endorsement is sufficient to convince an additional 5% to 10% of people to decide gay marriage is okay by them
3) ....
4) Gay marriage is legal everywhere, gay people have full equality before the law

What's you're three, here? And how does two cause it? (leaving aside for now that I'm personally skeptical that two flows naturally from one. I don't think Obama's that influential on a moral or spiritual plane.) In terms of things he could practically do with executive power, at this point, I'm not seeing much. Repealing DOMA would require one or both of the other branches. Changing marriage laws is state-by-state. What's step three?
posted by Diablevert at 11:19 AM on December 14, 2011


Dan Savage: There's Something Happening Here
Republican politicians used to feel they could attack LGBT people with impunity. The queers wouldn't confront 'em because we didn't want to get outed at work or to our folks back home and the straights folks who supported gay rights didn't think the issue of LGBT equality was important enough to get in a politician's face.

Times have changed. It used to be pro-gay politicians who paid a political price. Now it's the haters and nutjobs who are paying the price. There's not much upside to bashing gays these days—even on the right—and there's a definite downside.
posted by Anything at 7:03 PM on December 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


More signs of progress, first same sex welcome home kiss in the Navy.
posted by arcticseal at 9:09 PM on December 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama losing black support is about as likely as frozen aerial pigs in hell, regardless of their position or his on gay marriage.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:36 PM on December 21, 2011


Sure, but that's a silly way to frame it. While Obama's still going to get more votes from black people than whatever Republican gets nominated, his 2008 win included a record turnout from black voters, showing a high amount of voter enthusiasm, and that's not guaranteed for 2012. As one of the bigger problems in 2010 was the GOP winning on enthusiasm (contrary to popular belief, Dem enthusiasm wasn't much down from 2008, but GOP's was way up), Obama losing black votes over moving further socially to the left is a real risk.

So while Obama won't lose the black vote, endorsing gay marriage risks black votes. And with those, risks the election.

By the way, got any evidence to support that surge theory you were trotting out earlier? If you do, we can start thinking about quantifying that possible reward against the likely risk with socially conservative Dems.
posted by klangklangston at 1:27 AM on December 22, 2011


Lots of things sap enthusiasm, record unemployment in the black community for one, he can he can afford to take a hit for not openly taking a bigoted stance against gays if he can survive our current economy.

It's weird how that has been danced around this whole thread. You need record enthusiasm? Sure, you will get it by making no waves and doing exactly the same stuff you did in 2010. Go for it!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:45 AM on December 22, 2011


So, the answer is no, you don't have any evidence. Thanks for clearing that up.

I'm not sure what the second part of your first sentence was supposed to communicate, but yes, given that black voters are already disproportionately hit by the economy, it's probably not best to piss them off further.

As for the enthusiasm gap, it's not that record enthusiasm is needed, it's that he had it when he was elected in 2008. For 2010, Dem enthusiasm actually didn't fall off that much, but rather the GOP had a massive surge, especially for local (house) elections. The GOP was likely to retake a bunch of seats anyway (off-year election, huge losses in 2008, regression to mean) and added to them with effective Tea Party messaging. But you can't expect the enthusiasm surge from FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT to carry through each time.

I'm not dancing around anything — I'm being totally realistic about factors that affect Obama's reelection chances and the chances of future progressive policy victories. You're off on another of your flights of umbrage and ignoring facts in order to indulge your fantasies of some messianic Obama who exists outside of the confines of American politics and who the real Obama will never measure up to.
posted by klangklangston at 10:41 AM on December 22, 2011


My evidence is Obama has shown clear ability as a leader speaking eloquently and convincing people to follow him as he showed on the campaign trail.

I'm not sure what the second part of your first sentence was supposed to communicate, but yes, given that black voters are already disproportionately hit by the economy, it's probably not best to piss them off further.

Right, so angry about the economy they are going to abandon the first black president because he wanted to stop taking a bigoted position on civil rights in order to vote for a Republican who will be worse on the economy and civil rights.

As for the enthusiasm gap, it's not that record enthusiasm is needed, it's that he had it when he was elected in 2008. For 2010, Dem enthusiasm actually didn't fall off that much, but rather the GOP had a massive surge, especially for local (house) elections. The GOP was likely to retake a bunch of seats anyway (off-year election, huge losses in 2008, regression to mean) and added to them with effective Tea Party messaging. But you can't expect the enthusiasm surge from FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT to carry through each time.

He had it in 2008 and matched it in 2010, the Republicans are going to be even more enthused to take him down this time. If you can't improve, you are going to face issues. What have Democrats done to change that other than stay the course?

You're off on another of your flights of umbrage and ignoring facts in order to indulge your fantasies of some messianic Obama who exists outside of the confines of American politics and who the real Obama will never measure up to.

Oh right, you changed that you are condescending hippie punching pricks more if people don't agree to support bigoted positions with you.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:58 PM on December 22, 2011


"My evidence is Obama has shown clear ability as a leader speaking eloquently and convincing people to follow him as he showed on the campaign trail. "

That's not evidence that taking a progressive position on gay marriage would win enough progressive voters to offset those he'd lose from social conservatives.

"Right, so angry about the economy they are going to abandon the first black president because he wanted to stop taking a bigoted position on civil rights in order to vote for a Republican who will be worse on the economy and civil rights. "

I don't understand what you're trying to say here.

"He had it in 2008 and matched it in 2010, the Republicans are going to be even more enthused to take him down this time. If you can't improve, you are going to face issues. What have Democrats done to change that other than stay the course?"

Again, I'm not really sure about what you're wanting to argue, but it seems to me that you're not really basing this on polling or anything quantitative at all, but rather sort of tossing together an ad hoc narrative out of how you think people should think based on how you think. And I don't think that matches well with the evidence we've seen from recent elections or polling.

"Oh right, you changed that you are condescending hippie punching pricks more if people don't agree to support bigoted positions with you."

Is the "you" supposed to be me? Or Obama? Or Democrats? This is kinda incoherent, especially if you're addressing me. Again, I work directly for the biggest statewide gay rights group in the country — a group that's won gay marriage in the courts once, as well as lost it at the ballot (just like every other ballot fight), and who is working on multiple strategies to win same sex marriage in this state as well as nationwide. You can disagree with me on tactics, but I'd like it to be really clear that you're not calling my positions bigoted here, because that'd be some bullshit.

Further, seeing gay rights as purely being gay marriage is really myopic. It's a big deal, and it's very symbolic, but it's not the be all and end all, and there are a bunch of other issues that will help make the lives of LGBT people better on a day-to-day basis. Frankly, there are a lot of gay rights groups that don't want Obama to push for gay marriage at least until he's re-elected, because they're pragmatic about what can be accomplished with him in office.
posted by klangklangston at 11:35 PM on December 22, 2011


That's not evidence that taking a progressive position on gay marriage would win enough progressive voters to offset those he'd lose from social conservatives.

But that isn't the claim I made. I said, "I don't think you can solve this issue politically that quickly, but I think he could drive those numbers in favor up another 5-10%"

I don't understand what you're trying to say here.

I'm saying I doubt the AA community would poll gay marriage (pro or con) as a more important issue than the economy in regards to their voting decisions this year, especially considering Obama is an inspirational leader who could sway a percentage of them with an eloquent case made in terms of civil rights.

You can disagree with me on tactics, but I'd like it to be really clear that you're not calling my positions bigoted here, because that'd be some bullshit.

You are asking me to vote for a politician who espouses the bigoted idea that marriage should only be for heterosexuals. You can bury it in all the DOMA/State's Rights stuff but that is the position Obama holds. He would not take issue with a state banning gay marriage, a position you would not defend if it were Ron Paul defending state abortion restrictions. Further, he does not support gay marriage himself.

You can disagree with me on tactics

I'm glad to talk tactics, dropping the condescending prick act would smooth that along. I can't talk tactics when you are whining that any disagreements with your view means "flights of umbrage and ignoring facts in order to indulge your fantasies of some messianic Obama".
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:33 AM on December 23, 2011


"But that isn't the claim I made. I said, "I don't think you can solve this issue politically that quickly, but I think he could drive those numbers in favor up another 5-10%""

Fair enough. You also haven't supported that claim with any quantitative evidence.

"I'm saying I doubt the AA community would poll gay marriage (pro or con) as a more important issue than the economy in regards to their voting decisions this year, especially considering Obama is an inspirational leader who could sway a percentage of them with an eloquent case made in terms of civil rights."

It doesn't have to be more important as a whole to also have a deleterious effect. Torture is less important to Democrats than the economy, but that doesn't mean coming out as pro-torture would win Obama more votes. He could sway some, but others would stay home over it, and there's significant opposition within the African American community.

"You are asking me to vote for a politician who espouses the bigoted idea that marriage should only be for heterosexuals. You can bury it in all the DOMA/State's Rights stuff but that is the position Obama holds. He would not take issue with a state banning gay marriage, a position you would not defend if it were Ron Paul defending state abortion restrictions. Further, he does not support gay marriage himself."

Yep. Because I know that a vote for Obama will lead to better outcomes, even if he's not perfect, than a vote against him or a failure to vote. I haven't invoked any sort of DOMA/State's Rights claims, and I don't think that it's a good position to hold in the long term.

But, y'know, I asked you a pretty simple question about who that "you" was aimed at, and I'd appreciate an answer. You can complain that I treat you with condescension, but you've repeatedly failed to support your claims, and you've now danced around a flat question in order to paint Obama's position in extremist terms while ignoring what I've said.

"I can't talk tactics when you are whining that any disagreements with your view means "flights of umbrage and ignoring facts in order to indulge your fantasies of some messianic Obama"."

No, furious, not "any" disagreement. Your specific, specious, combative and insulting disagreement. You can call me condescending — I don't think you know what you're talking about, and I've asked you several times to back it up with evidence, and you haven't. I've pointed out the reasons why it's bad politics for Obama to wade in on this issue, especially with a broader view of gay rights, and you've misrepresented what I said and complained about my tone. You ignore political facts to engage in flights of umbrage, and your arguments are incoherent, and even when I try to treat what you write seriously, it just comes out as more agro jibber-jabber where you confuse stridency for evidence. (And, frankly, since you read everything I write as condescending even when I'm not intending it that way, there's little incentive for me to avoid telling you that I don't think you know what you're talking about, etc.)
posted by klangklangston at 2:13 AM on December 23, 2011


It doesn't have to be more important as a whole to also have a deleterious effect. Torture is less important to Democrats than the economy, but that doesn't mean coming out as pro-torture would win Obama more votes. He could sway some, but others would stay home over it, and there's significant opposition within the African American community.

You haven't supported quantitatively the claim that black voters care enough about the gay marriage issue for it to make a difference in their support of Obama. If that is your case, make it.

It's easy to poll current attitudes on what the most important issues are. It's more difficult to poll what a convincing and eloquent case from a strong leader could do to change those attitudes. We can only look at past cases where such a leader has made their case, and in general I felt like the public has responded to Obama.

When he has failed, it has been in Congress, not with the people.

"You are asking me to vote for a politician who espouses the bigoted idea that marriage should only be for heterosexuals.

Yep.


And as I said, you want me to support that bigoted position with you. Why did you to waste my time explaining what you already knew? I discussed state's rights/doma because that is the usual apologetic position folks take to defend the bigotry.

These are facts, that they do not match up with your perspective does not make them flights of fancy. None of my comments in this thread prior to your tantrum provide any evidence for your ridiculous claims. Shall we discuss tactics, or do you have more paragraphs of pointless whining?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:33 AM on December 23, 2011


"And as I said, you want me to support that bigoted position with you. Why did you to waste my time explaining what you already knew? I discussed state's rights/doma because that is the usual apologetic position folks take to defend the bigotry."

Actually, I want you to support a politician despite disagreeing with some of his positions. I'm not sure why you conflate the idea that voting for someone necessarily means that you support all of their positions, and that you're incapable of arguing against them or disagreeing.

But since you're too dense to grasp that, haven't bothered to support your positions at all while simultaneously flinging about loaded and inflammatory language — including again accusing me of supporting a bigoted position — I don't think there's anything to be gained by talking about tactics. I support same-sex marriage, have done exponentially more work towards it than you have, and know it's a loser at the ballot box that has successfully been used as a wedge issue for the last decade and a half. Have fun voting for Romney — he's sure to take a progressive stance on gay marriage and to advance gay rights generally. I'm sure then we'll see a vindication of this single-issue idiocy of yours.
posted by klangklangston at 12:20 PM on December 23, 2011


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