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Hackthat

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It’s hardly news that Douthat is an irredeemable hack, but this piece about Obama and gay marriage drove me crazy.

Indeed, if you accept the framing of the debate that many liberals (and many journalists) embrace, then you have to acknowledge that President Obama has spent the last four years lying to the American people about his convictions on one of the defining civil rights issues of our time, and giving aid and comfort to pure bigotry in the service of his other political priorities.

Well, if there’s anyone who knows about giving aid and comfort to bigots, it’s Ross Douthat!

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  • Malaclypse

    then the kind of uncomfortable questions the White House spent this week dodging will be asked again and again of the president over the course of the campaign to come.

    Luckily, being Ross Douthat means never needing to be correct.

  • Davis X. Machina

    Douthat’s post apparently was written in a conference call with Donald Trump.

  • avoidswork

    I think any time Douthat’s name is mentioned, you should be obliged to post a link to at least one take-down of Douthat…

    I, myself, am *shocked* that Douthat thinks a politician (president or not) may have lied/fibbed to the American people in what we may term a “pandering” way.

    I really hate Obama’s POV on gay marriage. But I find the Repub/Con/TPer POV immoral.

  • Manju

    Well, Douthat has a win win. Given the very framework used by liberals, Obama is either lying or this is not the defining civil rights issue of our time.

    I guess he’d rather go with the latter but if he can’t get that he’ll take the former. Might as well give it too him, imo.

    Chris Christie is probably in the same boat Obama was in…I mean the referendum he’s pushing will likely deliver gay marriage to NJ.

    • Malaclypse

      Given the very framework used by liberals, Obama is either lying or this is not the defining civil rights issue of our time.

      Shorter Manju: I did not read the other thread, and am blissfully unaware of today’s announcement. Also, Democrats are the Real Bigots ™.

      • Manju

        am blissfully unaware of today’s announcement.

        Me: “Chris Christie is probably in the same boat Obama was in”

        • Malaclypse

          Okay, so what then, exactly, was Obama’s lie?

          • Manju

            People speculate that he’s lying about evolving. They think he’s been highly evolving the whole time, but wanted to make sure he could pass muster with the less evolved: the Byrd brains.

            • Manju

              that should be; “They think he’s been highly evolved the whole time.”

            • Malaclypse

              People speculate that he’s lying about evolving.

              Nice use of the passive voice. See, JenBob? Manju shows some pride in his work. You could pick up some pointers.

            • Malaclypse

              Hey, I found out who “people” are.

              • Hogan

                That can’t be right.

      • Manju

        Shorter Manju: I did not read the other thread

        You mean the ones where Scott discusses how liberals think they know Obama’s real opinon on gay marriage.

        Yeah, I read them. That’s what I was referencing when I said; “Given the very framework used by liberals…”

  • Bozo the Cocksucker

    Douchehat never has a win win. He never has a win. He very rarely even manages a w.

  • Joe

    Adults realize how politics work. Full fledged “truth telling” is left to op-ed columns like his.

    That, and feelings on Reese Witherspoon Look-Alikes.

    http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2009/03/fear-of-reese-witherspoon-look-alikes-on-the-pill.html

    Again, religious issues are too important to waste semi-precious op-ed space to this guy.

  • President Obama has spent the last four years lying to the American people about his convictions on one of the defining civil rights issues of our time, and giving aid and comfort to pure bigotry in the service of his other political priorities.

    Ok, setting Douthat aside for the moment, doesn’t it seem likely that this is actually true? That is, if you assume that Obama has, in fact, supported equal marriage rights for a long time (for which there is at least some evidence), then isn’t it true that Obama has been supporting a discriminatory policy for political convenience?

    My feeling on this particular stance of Obama’s (that is, the one he had until a few minutes ago) has long been that “hell’s just a place for kiss-ass politicians who pander to assholes”. Given that his stance on this issue is basically symbolic, you could say it doesn’t matter nearly as much as a lot of other things he’s done, but just judging this issue? Why is Douthat’s claim wrong?

    • Joe

      Obama’s “symbolic” stance includes executive orders protecting same sex couples & not supporting DADT in the courts (in fact, asking them to declare it unconstitutional) while dealing with the political reactions to his move. Not merely symbolism.

      Obama supports basic results and is willing to compromise with labels and other things to get them thru. He supports that here — civil unions with equal rights would improve same sex couples situations nation-wide. He is a pragmatist here but the is “evolving” since what is pragmatic changes as society changes.

      How this is “lying” is unclear to me. The fact that politicians like everyone spins things, if that is the “lying,” is pretty weak. Like calling someone who doesn’t tell his wife she is fat is a “liar.”

      • Joe

        supporting DADT DOMA.

        “giving aid and comfort to pure bigotry”

        By supporting civil unions and all the rest.

        I wonder if he thinks the GLBT community did the same by being wary about supporting the Prop 8 litigation because they thought they would lose. Playing it a bit safe is support for “pure” bigotry.

      • The argument that it’s “lying” depends on the claim that he has, in fact, supported marriage rights all along and has simply been denying it because it’s politically expedient.

        The argument that he’s been supporting bigotry and that his stance is merely symbolic both apply strictly to the issue of marriage rights, not to the issue of LGBT rights as a whole. And I don’t think that being good on one type of civil rights gives someone a pass on another. (His refusal to support the defense of marriage act is a better argument, but it does bolster the “lying” possibility slightly.) As I said, not the biggest deal, since the President doesn’t have much to do with equal marriage rights directly. But still not something about which he’s covered himself in glory.

        • joe from Lowell

          I guess that depends on what you consider glorious.

          I like meaningful wins that produce substantive advances. “But he lied about his true feelings!” sounds a bit too much like “But he didn’t fight honorably!”

          Interesting image, “cover himself in glory.” I picture a guy putting laurel wreaths on his own brow while the crowds cheer.

    • joe from Lowell

      isn’t it true that Obama has been supporting a discriminatory policy for political convenience?

      Only in the most technical, insubstantial meaning of “supporting.”

      Obama has been “supporting” one-man-one-woman the way a third grader “supports” the pledge of allegiance every morning. Blah blah blah…

  • DrDick

    Ross is just pissed off because “giving aid and comfort to pure bigotry” is his job.

    • Ross Douchehat

      They took our jerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrbs!

  • Davis

    My own position has evolved from civil unions to full marriage equality, so why couldn’t his? Back in 2004 when Howard Dean was running, I thought that his signing a civil union act in Vermont would be damaging. It wasn’t, and now most of us are OK with marriage. It’s easy to believe that he didn’t want to spend political capital on it in the early years, but one can’t know for sure.

    • joe from Lowell

      My own position has evolved from civil unions to full marriage equality, so why couldn’t his?

      Did your position evolve from supporting gay marriage in 1996 to opposing it in 2009 to supporting it again this year?

      • njorl

        I recommend that Romney pounce on the issue of Obama flip-flopping for political convenience.

  • I don’t really understand the hostility towards Douthat here. Echoing Stephen Frug, is it LGM’s position or the position of the liberal bloc as a whole that Obama has been 100% praiseworthy every step of the way on this subject? I’ve had my teeth kicked in on these same LGM boards defending Obama on Kagan, on health care, as a relatively progressive president (luckily Scott has my back on that one), even on gay rights!

    But even I am willing to say that something about Obama’s story here makes me feel queasy. I’m delighted that he won in 2008, I’m delighted that he may be able to leverage his position on gay rights to help him win in 2012, he’s proven to my satisfaction that his strategies on the subject were sound (mainly the DADT thing), but he resembles a politician here a lot more than someone with, you know, convictions. Maybe that was necessary, maybe not, but he didn’t cover himself in glory, and arguably didn’t even cover himself in glory today. It’s cool that the president now has the right position on gay marriage, but in a sense, that’s the least we as liberals should expect.

    • “I don’t really understand the hostility towards Douthat here. Echoing Stephen Frug, is it LGM’s position or the position of the liberal bloc as a whole that Obama has been 100% praiseworthy every step of the way on this subject? I’ve had my teeth kicked in on these same LGM boards defending Obama on Kagan, on health care, as a relatively progressive president (luckily Scott has my back on that one), even on gay rights!”

      These two sentences are totally unrelated.

      Douthat is a complete hack who pathetically tries to justify right-wing moral values in a patina of respectability. But that has nothing to do with Obama or any legitimate critiques of him.

      However, I think there’s no question that historians will look back on the Obama presidency and see gay rights as one area where he expressed real and very impressive leadership. Change does not happen overnight and Obama has moved the ball in a very significant way.

      • You’re trafficking in extremes here: “totally,” “complete,” “nothing to do with,” “no question.” It doesn’t give me confidence in your judgments.

        Your identification of Douthat here is a complete hack is close to ad hominem. I agree with that characterization, but its use here feels like a way of dodging whether his specific claim here has merit. I think there is some merit to his claim.

        The opinion of posterity is likewise of little interest to me, right at this moment and likewise feels like a dodge. Who gives a hoot what historians will say? We can make our own judgments. We all agree it’s an important moment and that Obama did the right thing today. That does not absolve him of responsibility in his positions on this subject before today. Frankly I’m a little surprised to hear this line of argumentation coming from you.

        It’s not terribly silly to argue that what Obama did today was not very much more than make up for past blemishes on his record. I’m not an extremist on gay rights, at all, but as I said before, in a sense a Democratic incumbent of the WH being in favor of gay marriage should not be a shocking or surprising proposition. I’m not entirely sure I *buy* that argument, but it’s not an outlandish one.

        • You presented a non-sequitur. It was pointed out that you presented a non-sequitur. Your response seems to be, “How dare you point out that apples aren’t oranges, when both are fruit.”

          An ad hominem argument involves substituting an attack on the person for a response to the person’s arguments. If you call somebody “a complete hack” but then provide a substantive response, it’s fair to say you’ve insulted the person, you may even be poisoning the well, but you’re not engaging in ad hominem abusive as a logical fallacy.

          What is the harm that you identify that is associated exclusively with the explicit endorsement of gay marriage?

          • I don’t think my argument is that hard to follow. I stated my credentials as an Obama defender to set up the next sentence, in which I expressed surprise that I seemed to be the only one a bit impatient with Obama, in a forum well known for its impatience with Obama. I remain surprised.

            Look, everyone in the debate agrees that Obama has been dishonest, right? On the liberal side, we refer to knowing all along what Obama’s position was, that there was a “charade.” We all know that Obama has felt this way for a long time. I’m not saying anything surprising there. Why is that suddenly a problem when an explicit political opponent says the same thing? Douthat isn’t being disingenuous or even arguing in bad faith, the hallmark of the hack, he’s saying, in a more aggressive way, what we’ve all been saying, that Obama’s claims to oppose gay marriage were politically expedient. I don’t get what the big deal is, when you switch positions like this in a wink-y way that seems to nod to bad faith, your political opponents are going to attack you for it. That’s all that Douthat’s done here. Douthat’s on the wrong side on the issue, but this is a sincere and fair attack, as it were.

            • Malaclypse

              Look, everyone in the debate agrees that Obama has been dishonest, right?

              Um, no.

              On the liberal side, we refer to knowing all along what Obama’s position was, that there was a “charade.”

              No, “we” don’t.

              • Fair enough. In my experience such observations have been commonplace.

              • Are you saying that you think that Obama had a sincere change of heart in the last few months? That his opposition to gay marriage was sincere all along?

                • Malaclypse

                  I’m saying I don’t know. I do know that Obama is far, far more conservative on pretty much every issue than I am, and if you asked me 15 years ago, I would have thought civil unions were a reasonable position. I learned more since then. I am assuming other people can do the same thing.

                • Just to note, as a point of semantics, that we’re defining “opposition” WAY the hell down here.

                • Henry Holland

                  Hopefully, Malaclypse, you know that civil unions for gays and lesbians are second-class citizenship, full stop. There’s something like 1100 rights that married couples get, only a fraction of those are part of civil unions and some of the most basic ones like hospital visitation, inheritance, property transfers etc. are routinely run roughshod over by the courts in favor of biological families.

                  The horror stories of what happened after my first boyfriend died *still* piss me off and that was 20 years ago.

            • djw

              Look, everyone in the debate agrees that Obama has been dishonest, right?

              I think it’s at least as likely as not that Obama has been dishonest in the way you describe, but there’s no basis to claim it’s true with any confidence.

              More importantly, “doesn’t accurately reveal actual position for reasons of presumed political expediency, even while sticking up for actual position when possible” is perhaps the least troubling political sin imaginable.

              • DrDick

                Frankly, I have no idea how Obama felt in the past or feels now. I do know that he has now come out publicly in favor of same sex marriage, which he would not do previously. This is a notable abd positive change.

                • Henry Holland

                  Frankly, I have no idea how Obama felt in the past

                  Then take 15 seconds –15 whole seconds!!!– to find out:

                  http://tinyurl.com/9347ls

                  President-elect Obama’s answer to a 1996 Outlines newspaper question on marriage was: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” There was no use of the phrase “civil unions”. [Outlines purchased Windy City Times in 2000 and merged companies.]

                  What an amazing creature Obama is! He evolved > devolved > evolved again, all in 15 years, biologists would be amazed.

  • Christopher

    “I don’t accept that framing, but I accept that its architects genuinely believe in it, and see the conflict over same-sex unions as a clear-cut struggle between good and evil, with no possibility of middle ground.”

    You know, we come to the New York Times editorial page to see intellectual thinking, but it’s the graciousness that really impresses.

  • Matt T.

    Ya know, and I imagine this has been said elsewhere more eloquently than I (Charlie Pierce, for one), but I honestly don’t give two tugs of a dead dog’s dick why Obama came out in support of gay folks having their unions afford all the rights and privileges of straight folks. I don’t care if it was damage control for Biden’s similar statement this weekend, nor do I care if Biden was testing the waters with said statement. I don’t care if Obama’s been lying about his stance since her got of of Commie Muslim School, nor do I care if it’s cold political maneuvering in light of the majority of the country polling non-douchebag on the topic at hand. I don’t even care if it’s in response to the horror in North Carolina, nor do I care if his supposedly weaselly wording would indeed allow more states to pull the ignorant shit the Tarheel State pulled yesterday.

    Sweet baby Elvis, the President of the United States of America went out and told everybody that he, the President of the United States of America, supports equal rights for gay folks. That’s pretty fuckin’ cool, you have to admit. Hell, just two election cycles ago, the President of the United States of America ran for re-election partly on changing the Constitution to prevent equal rights for certain of our fellow citizens.

    I really can’t grok this framing, whether Obama was lying all this time or if his views “evolved”, or why it even matters. For one, politicians do shit like that ’cause that’s the sort of shit politicians do, and two, I see Obama’s job as less a leader and more the guy I’m counting on to keep the ship of state on not only an even keel but also on an enlightening, illuminating course. My job – and my fellow citizens – is to stay on the rascal’s back so he does it properly.

    So, in a very real way, we did this. Enough of us stirred up enough collective shit so that the President of the United States of America – in an election year, no less – told the entire world that he, like we, is in favor of equal rights for all. The why’s don’t matter and there’s still a long way to go and much ass to be kicked, but nevertheless, the President is in favor of gay marriage and that’s pretty neat.

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