The timeline of Barack Obama’s stance on gay marriage is that in 1996 he was for it. In 2004 and 2008, he was against it. Now in 2012, he’s for it again. This is not evolution or endorsing. This is flip-flopping.

Each stance along the way has had nothing to do with principle, and everything to do with politics.

In 1996, Obama filled out a gay group’s questionnaire saying that he supported gay marriage. He was running for the state Senate at the time, in a liberal district, and could not afford to offend a liberal constituency. So he didn’t.

In 2004, Obama was running for the US Senate. Winning that race required reaching out to a broader voting bloc. So he tacked to center, aligned himself with George W. Bush, and announced that his faith made him oppose gay marriage.

The same faith he had in 1996 — when he favored gay marriage. Faith was not the driving force, despite what he said. Politics was.

In 2008, Obama was running for president. He had to reach out to an even broader voting base than the Illinois vote that had sent him to the Senate. So again, he was against gay marriage to take the issue off the table.

What’s changed in 2012? The incumbent president is in trouble, and he needs campaign cash. Donors who want him to act on gay marriage have been holding out on him. He cannot afford to rile up his base against him or dampen their enthusiasm at all. So he gives them what they want. The executive order to set aside federal contracts that will benefit those donors cannot be far behind.

President Obama has been bought. That’s the truth of it. Today’s flip-flop is John Kerryesque, only more cynical. Expect the media to fall in love with him all over again.

After all this, I’m still not sure what Barack Obama really believes. But he definitely believes in himself. So he does what he does to advance…himself.

Nuances: The president said that his stance is personal, and he favors states being the ultimate deciders. He opposes states deciding on their border security policies, or voter ID, or abortion, or energy policies.

In 2004 and 2008, Obama cited his faith as the reason he opposed gay marriage. So…has he changed his faith?