On May 9, President Obama became the first sitting president to openly endorse same-sex marriage in an historic interview with Robin Roberts of ABC News. Despite the innocuousness of the president’s statement, where he cited the golden rule and the opinion of his daughters as reasons for his “evolved” views, Republicans have criticized this as a cheap political ploy—an effort to galvanize his base and divert attention away from the economy.
To be fair, there is some truth to that. After all, he is a president running for reelection, and must take consideration when choosing a tie to wear for fear of the color being seen as too partisan. Every decision he makes is going to be political, but that doesn’t cheapen the sentiment.
Obama’s statement is both a reflection of the majority opinion and a testament to the changing social landscape in America. Republicans are just crying foul because they understand what a brilliant move it was.
The Obama campaign is going to be rolling in dough. Just one day after the event, George Clooney hosted a fundraising dinner party that earned a record breaking $15 million. Money is going to continue pouring in from Hollywood—a firm and vocal supporter of gay rights.
There have been some concerns raised that this will produce political fallout among the African American and Latino communities—two demographics historically opposed to the issue—but there is virtually no way that Obama will lose these votes.
My jaw will be on the floor if African Americans—who voted for Obama at a rate of 95 percent in 2008—would suddenly jump ship. Gay marriage may not be popular, but I imagine the same is true for obscenely rich Mormons. My jaw would be similarly floor-bound if Latinos opted to vote for such a stringent opponent of immigration. Granted, Romney could adjust his view, but the conservatives would likely cannibalize him if he did.
That is the political beauty of his endorsement—it doesn’t change anyone’s mind. In a recent Gallup Poll, 60 percent of people said his comments would not affect their vote in the slightest. Essentially, Obama will earn millions upon millions of dollars for stringing together a few words and only alienate the people who weren’t going to vote for him in the first place. Not a bad deal.
An added bonus has been the increased media attention. Even coverage of Romney’s latest stop at Liberty University in Virginia was tied to the fact that he did not reference Obama’s comments or address the issue of gay marriage.
Romney needs to do something noteworthy if he expects his campaign to stay relevant. He could wait for the storm to die down, but I don’t think he can afford to. Gay marriage could easily become a reoccurring theme of this election.
The best strategy that Romney can take is to do what he does best—undersell the truth. Half-truths have never been outside the realm of Romney’s scruples.
Take his vow to run the country like a business. Sure, he created thousands of jobs while venture capitalizing at Bain Capital, but what you won’t hear is his track record while governor of Massachusetts: the state fell to 47th in job creation. With that degree of selective honesty, Romney could easily say that he supported gay marriage way before it was cool.
He has merged dozens of companies together, and since corporations are persons under the law, Romney has been a huge ally of businesses trying to actualize their homocorporational love.
In all seriousness though, if Romney fails to act, and his campaign remains as stiff as his white collar, his chances are not good. If Obama continues this pace, you might as well stick a silver spoon in this election.