Thursday, June 30, 2011

Misinterpreting or Underestimating Obama

Posted by Desert Crone

I have been mulling over an idea that’s been rattling around in my head for a while, and that idea grew to fruition with two tweets by Lt. Dan Choi: “. . . .sad that Barack Obama would have voted no" and "Obama: ‘I have plenty of gay friends. Some of them work for me. I just feel they are inferior to me, and they don't deserve marriage.’" That set me off in an ugly old cranky rant on “Tweeter.” I called Lt. Choi a self-made martyr and a media whore. However, this wasn’t a spontaneous tweet; it was an opinion I’ve held about him since he came out. We drunks have a saying in AA, “Principles over personalities,” and Lt. Choi’s behavior and comments flew in the face of that belief.

His crusade became about himself and his rising star on MSNBC, not the greater good. In my opinion, President Obama became the target of “his” movement, and he lost sight of the LGBT movement. Of course, my criticism of Lt. Choi generated much support and criticism, some very harsh, which was of no surprise to me. However, I digress. In my mind Lt. Choi is hardly a martyr (which to my knowledge he has not claimed to be but acts like) because martyrs don’t throw others under the bus. Martyrs help people get on the bus and up on stools at Woolworth and into voting booths and into segregated public schools and universities. But my epiphany and the point of this post aren’t about Choi’s motive; they revolve around his criticism of President Obama.

As you know, Lt. Choi, Rachel Maddow, and Michael Moore all have the opinion that Obama would have voted against the gay marriage bill in NY. This is simply, unequivocally false. I am truly befuddled by this statement because I have read much of what Pres. Obama has said and written about gay marriage. Others are tweeting “evolve already” to the president, presumably assuming that Obama is struggling with moral or political issues around his view on gay marriage. I also disagree with that assumption.

I believe President Obama’s conundrum is whether or not gay marriage is a vehicle to achieving civil rights for LGBT’S, or whether gay marriage will come with the passing of more sweeping civil rights legislation and court rulings. If my observation does, in fact, define his conflicted feelings (or evolution), then his statements about gay marriage revolve around his search for the most pragmatic path to ensuring civil rights for LGBT’s.

 In this quote from Dec. 2008, Obama says:

‘Look, when my parents got married in 1961, it would have been illegal for them to be married in a number of states in the South. So obviously, this is something that I understand intimately, it’s something that I care about. But if I were advising the civil rights movement back in 1961 about its approach to civil rights, I would have probably said it’s less important that we focus on an anti-miscegenation law than we focus on a voting rights law and a non-discrimination and employment law and all the legal rights that are conferred by the state. Now, it’s not for me to suggest that you shouldn’t be troubled by these issues. But my job as president is going to be to make sure that the legal rights that have consequences on a day to day basis for loving same sex couples all across the country.’
Basically, but not wholly, I base my premise on the part of the quotation that is in bold. Also, I would like to reference articles by Greg Sargent and Andrew Sullivan. I reference these articles, not necessarily because they support my opinion, but because both “get” that this President understands nuance. The lack of understanding this about President Obama has created much of the Left’s vitriolic, unreasonable criticism.

I find it incredulous that many of Obama’s liberal/progressive critics appear to forget that Obama is a brilliant Constitutional lawyer with a powerful intellect. Even a frequent critic of the President, Keith Olbermann admits “it was really one of those moments where you thought, well, maybe we do have one of say the 1,000 smartest people in the country is [sic] the President of the United States. Maybe he`s 999. Maybe number 83 - we don`t know.” 

Yet, still Olbermann and other critics frequently go to great lengths to give President Obama advice on how to do this or that. The fact that Obama is a pragmatist and a Constitutional scholar with a brilliant mind leads me to believe that his positions on issues are not based on his religious beliefs or political scheming but the most pragmatic, quickest way to do the right thing for people of the United States. Thus, he has used and is using his executive powers to make it easier for unions to organize, to implement parts of the DREAM Act, and to obtain civil rights for LGBT’s. If Congress won’t get the job done, then Obama looks for other avenues.

My point is that the criticism that Obama would have voted no on gay marriage or that he doesn’t support gay marriage is so simplistic to be laughable if it weren’t so tragically absurd. It might be true if he were a black and white thinker (no pun so don’t even go there), but he is not. He is a complex man. And don’t you ever forget it.


alma said...

It is nuanced and it is about civil rights. Bravo to you for getting what others miss. Sadly their viewpoint is biased by feelings, not an unusual circumstance but surely their intellect should allow them to process this to a sensible conclusion.

vera lynn said...

exactly. thank you.

vera lynn said...

oh, and I am stealing for my blog....again, very well said. I would have gone on those tangents and never got around to the point. :)

bardgal said...

Simply brilliant! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Well done. Thank you for writing this.

NowhereMan said...

I couldn't have written it any better.Excellent!

Allan said...

I'm really glad to see you blogging. I've been very impressed by your level-headed and insightful comments on Twitter. I give this post two big thumbs up!

teamobama2012 said...

Outstanding writing. Prepare yourself for some traffic .. I put your post on the news wires. Cheers from expat in Europe.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you arguments. Our public discourse has become so "dumbed down" that we don't appreciate it when we have a sophisticated mind in the WH. That doesn't mean we have to agree with him all the time, but it does require that we respond at his level of intellect and reasoning. That's beyond the capabilities of most of the media and pundits. Dan Choi is the perfect example of someone who is in way over his head here.

appraisewithstephen said...

I'm repeating a post I left on another forum.

Lt Choi, there is a shelf life to fame. Your expiration date has passed.
Please exit stage left, and quietly.