[Marxism] Obama on gay marriage, like a Galapagos finch

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue May 8 07:28:27 MDT 2012


Vice President Biden’s gay-marriage gaffe is mess for White House
By Dana Milbank, Published: May 7

If Vice President Biden continues to make public appearances 
during this campaign, White House press secretary Jay Carney 
should be offered a membership in the janitors’ union.

As things stand, the spokesman does not have the supplies 
necessary to clean up the mess Biden made in his appearance Sunday 
on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Biden gave his full support to same-sex 
marriage — a position conspicuously at odds with the public stance 
of his boss, President Obama, who is widely assumed to share 
Biden’s views but who says that his own thinking is “evolving.”

The vice president said he is “absolutely comfortable” with 
same-sex marriage, committing the classic Washington gaffe of 
accidentally speaking the truth. This bit of straight talk made 
Obama’s position — neither for nor against such unions but in an 
evolutionary state, not unlike the Galapagos finch — all the more 
untenable. On Monday, Biden took off for a campaign event in 
Tennessee, leaving Carney on cleanup duty. But the more Carney 
swabbed the mess, the more it spread.

CNN’s Jessica Yellin asked whether Obama was trying to “have it 
both ways before an election” and whether he should “stop dancing 
around the issue.”

ABC’s Jake Tapper said that “it seems cynical to hide this prior 
to the election” and that “I don’t want to hear the same talking 
points 15 times in a row.”

NBC’s Chuck Todd said with a grin, “So help me out here. He 
opposes bans on gay marriage, but he doesn’t yet support gay 

The pounding was so intense that radio personality Les Kinsolving, 
a gadfly who tries to ask the most outrageous question at 
briefings, was being overlooked. Midway through the briefing, he 
appeared to pass out, sliding to the floor. As he was being helped 
to a seat, Kinsolving called out, “I just have one question!”

Carney tried to parry the same-sex-marriage questions, gamely at 
first and then testily as reporters began to laugh at his answers. 
He grew uncharacteristically flustered. When an unrelated question 
came about whether Obama would support the reelection of 
scandal-plagued Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), Carney answered: “I 
mean — well, yes, sure. I just don’t — I haven’t — I haven’t been 
asked it before so I. . . . The president — I’ll have to — I’ll 
have to get back to you.”

Biden hadn’t planned to make news about same-sex marriage or to 
endorse a position on the issue. The gaffe-prone vice president 
had been relatively on message for months. But on Sunday, he 
referred to the likely Republican presidential nominee as 
“President Romney” and to his own boss as “President Clinton.” And 
he inadvertently set off a frenzy on same-sex marriage, not 
because his position was surprising but because it made Obama’s 
look all the more absurd.

By Monday morning, even Education Secretary Arne Duncan was being 
asked for his position on such unions (he supports them). HUD 
Secretary Shaun Donovan had already taken that stance. Next up: 
Energy Secretary Steven Chu?

Whatever Obama’s public position, there was little doubt in the 
briefing room Monday that the president supports gay marriage and 
that he would go public with this position after Election Day, 
when he no longer need fear losing independent voters. Carney, who 
had the unenviable position of trying to convince the press corps 
otherwise, arrived 35 minutes late for the job and found a feisty 

“I have no update on the president’s personal views,” he told the 
first questioner, Anne Gearan of the Associated Press. “He, as you 
know, said that his views on this were evolving.”

Tapper asked whether Obama was “still evolving” or whether he’s 
“just waiting for the proper time to drop it, likely after November.”

“It is as it was,” Carney said.

CBS’s Nora O’Donnell tried another approach. “Why does the 
president oppose same-sex marriage?”

“I really don’t have any update for you,” Carney answered.

“The vice president appears to have evolved on the issue, but the 
president is still evolving?” O’Donnell inquired.

“I will leave it to individuals to describe their own personal views.”

Reporters fired dozens of barbed questions and taunts. “Contorted 
position! . . . Why did you guys send out statements to clarify? . 
 . . What does the word ‘evolving’ mean? . . . Is he not evolved?. 
 . . I want you to dissect the evolution.” A fly buzzed around the 
lectern. Carney let out a sigh.

NPR’s Mara Liasson asked whether Obama was “too clever by half,” 
essentially telling voters: “I’m getting ready to change my mind.”

“His views,” Carney maintained, “are crystal clear.”

Chris Geidner from Metro Weekly, a gay publication, pointed out 
the obvious: “If he’s crystal clear, why is everybody in this room 
asking you questions?”

“I think everybody in this room is reacting in the way folks often 
do to one story that takes off and then they run . . . and chase it.”

And the press secretary runs after them, mop in hand.

danamilbank at washpost.com

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