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The Silliness of the “Obama Just Agrees With Dick Cheney” Line

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Speaking of Josh Trevino, he tries out a line that I’ve seen in a few places — including some liberals who should know better:  “Forgot to congratulate Barack Obama for arriving at the same policy position on gay marriage as Rick Perry, Dick Cheney, & Barry Goldwater.”   The idea here is to both diminish the significance of Obama’s statement and to pretend that Republicans aren’t actually on the wrong side of history, but it’s a transparent failure on both counts.    First of all, with respect to Perry — the only one of the Republicans mentioned who might actually run for something again — he favors a Federal Marriage Amendment, so he and Obama are in fact diametrically opposed. And even before he conformed to Republican orthodoxy Perry never suggested that states should grant same-sex marriage rights even if nothing could stop them, so he and Obama still didn’t agree.  Obama, it apparently has to be said, didn’t just say that states should be able to grant marriage equality; he said that they should.   As for whether Obama now agrees with the post-2008 Cheney and Barry Goldwater, so what? They have/had progressive views on same-sex marriage! Views, it seems worth noting, that would disqualify anyone from being a Republican candidate for president, which is why one of Trevino’s examples is retired from political life and the other had been dead for nearly 15 years. Even for a “both parties are really the same” argument, this is feeble stuff.  Why, if the Supreme Court declared that the 14th Amendment requires marriage equality and Obama praised the decision (which he would), that would mean he agrees with Ted Olson and Anthony Kennedy.  I should care about this why?  Almost any progressive position is presumably supported by some random non-office holding Republican somewhere.

Another way of explaining how stupid the “but he just agrees with Dick Cheney” line is: Pierre Laval Log Cabin Republicans are using it to explain why they’ll endorse someone who thinks same-sex marriage should be permanently illegal in all 50 states instead. I rest my case.

On the issue of whether Obama’s support was too qualified — stated in its least defensible form here — I recommend Chris Geidner. Look, marriage is primary state issue; legislation requiring states to issue same-sex marriage licenses would be of dubious constitutionality and would have no chance of passing, and proposed constitutional amendments are rube-running we should leave to anti-choicers. The primary example of federal intervention into marriage is the abominable DOMA, whose constitutionality Obama is refusing to defend consistently with the position he took anyway. The only space for legitimate federal intervention would be an equal protection holding by the Supreme Court. The only thing Obama can do about this is appoint judges, and the judges he’s selected are overwhelmingly likely to vote this way. Nothing Obama can say will change Kennedy’s vote. There are, as always, many things Obama can actually be criticized for, but this critique is fundamentally misguided.

…obviously, Glenn Greenwald is in the tank for Obama.

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