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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Now that the exultation over President Obama’s symbolic gesture in favor of gay marriage has subsided, is it possible to ask exactly what he’s done? Politically speaking, I mean. He’s a politician, after all, not a moral philosopher.

As I understand it, the president has proposed no legislation nor promised any. Indeed, he’s said that the question of whether same gender couples can legally marry is up to the states, in which case nothing’s apt to change in the foreseeable future.

It’s interesting to speculate if any Southern state would have voted to allow interracial marriages like that of Obama’s parents had the Supreme Court not decided the issue in Loving vs. Virginia. Probably not.

So for this Newsweek sanctifies Obama as “America’s First Gay President” in a cover portrait with a multi-colored halo? (Never mind that historians suspect that James Buchanan, a lifelong bachelor whose close relationship with an Alabama Senator prompted Andrew Jackson to call him “Aunt Fancy,” preceded him by 156 years.) Is the magazine trying to make Obama look like a self-regarding fop?

On MSNBC’s “Chris Matthews Show,” Andrew Sullivan, the Newsweek article’s author, spoke of weeping when he heard Obama say, in effect, “I am his equal.” The ubiquitous British-American pundit who has long crusaded for gay rights (and who idolized George W. Bush in his flight suit incarnation) explained that “to hear the president who is in some ways a father figure speak to that—the tears came down like with many in our families.”

Up to a point, I can empathize. It’s an emotional issue, acceptance. Like Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, however, I do find it a bit thick coming from a pundit who had previously written that “the desperate desire among some gays for some kind of affirmation from one man is a little sad.” But then Obama’s not a father figure to me unless Bush was—or Bill Clinton. Some people’s need to make him one strikes me as a little creepy.

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