People have asked what Obama could possibly have been thinking to announce the final step in his "evolution" in favor of same-sex marriage right after another state resoundingly rejected the notion and despite the fact that most Americans oppose it.
Whether or not Joe Biden forced Obama's hand on the issue, which I doubt, there is little question that Obama was going to make the announcement. The only question was when.
Many assume he decided to do it before the election to increase his fundraising among Hollywood liberals and other leftists. But all the funds in the world might not help if you are going to campaign on policies that are unpopular with the voters. So what gives?
The question isn't how popular same-sex marriage is; it's what percentage of people will pick their presidential candidate based on Obama's announced change in position.
Everyone paying attention knew already that Obama favors same-sex marriage, and his actions -- which should speak louder than his words -- have strongly supported it, as his Justice Department has been at war against states outlawing the practice. Only certain trusting and naive people believed Obama when he said he was evolving -- as opposed to pretending to oppose same-sex marriage for political reasons until he decided to make his announcement.
But his announcement did embolden and energize the LGBT community and its strong advocates. It looks as though it sparked an increase in his fundraising, at least for now, and it is likely that it will help intensify his turnout among social liberals and other strong leftists.
What about the downside? How many people did he alienate with this move? Well, some are saying that he threw the black community under the bus in favor of his gay constituency. But I'm betting Obama is banking on the fact that it will take a lot more than that to keep blacks from voting for him. So he took a calculated and probably minimal risk there.
How about nonblack Democrats who still consider themselves social conservatives? Obama's militant support of abortion didn't alienate too many of them, and neither will this.
There are two main voter blocs whose votes will be strongly influenced by social issues: those social conservatives and social liberals for whom social issues are the most important issues. Those numbers may be substantial when you include the abortion issue, which drives Christian conservatives on the right and feminists and other women, among others, on the left. But they shrink greatly when you just include those whose votes will be determined primarily by the same-sex marriage issue. Those who oppose same-sex marriage strongly enough to base their vote on Obama's stance on it are already entrenched for or against him, irrespective of his announcement. Ultimately, he probably lost very few votes but gained much in fundraising and voter intensity.
Most people, even most social conservatives, are going to vote primarily on economic, budgetary and debt issues. Here, Obama has no positive record to run on, so he will try to change the subject, obfuscate and use Alinsky tactics to turn his conventional class warfare into an all-out nuclear affair.
He'll portray Republicans as fat cat 1 percenters and their enablers and as people who don't care about the poor, the sick, or clean air or water. They have theirs, so they don't care about those who don't.
He'll continue to play the race card and to promote his manufactured GOP "war against women" to paint Republicans as sexists. Likewise, with the help of the old media, he'll depict Republicans as bigots and homophobes for their opposition to same-sex marriage.
He'll claim that the economy is steadily recovering because of his policies -- never mind that it's the slowest recovery in decades -- and he'll say that though much work remains to be done, that's only because the "mess" Bush bequeathed "him" was worse than he thought and because selfish, obstructionist Republicans have prevented him from doing more.
This self-styled uniter will do everything in his power to make Republicans appear to be against everything that's good, compassionate and reasonable -- health care, entitlements, the environment, gays, blacks, women and the downtrodden -- and for everything that's evil, such as insurance companies, corporations, banks, Wall Street, the privileged, private jet owners and torture.
Mitt Romney will be caricatured as Obama's poster boy for conservative privilege, elitism and heartlessness. We're already seeing it with Team Obama's Bain Capital attack ads, and it's only May.
The way I see it, Romney will be fine as long as he resists the temptation to go soft on Obama and provided he doesn't allow Obama to set the campaign narrative by making this an election over who cares the most -- as opposed to whose policies would be best for America and the American people.
This election should be about Obama's record and how Romney would radically alter the disastrous course on which Obama has set America.
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