Having flopped in a head-to-head debate and now up to his neck in Benghazigate, what does a desperate president do to try to shore up his base? Calling his own most supportive lefty bloggers the “tin-foil hat crowd” won’t help. So let’s shout “SQUIRREL!” and distract to social issues.
Problem: Both Obama and Biden very recently held the same position on gay marriage that Mitt Romney and at least half the country currently hold.
Obama and co. using this issue now just exposes Obama to the accusation that he switched positions on what he had said was a sacred issue for purely political reasons. That makes his switch a character issue that isn’t likely to help him.
My own take is that, to the extent that same-sex marriage influences the election at all it’s out on the periphery. Americans are naturally a conservative people, in that our nation and institutions are set up to resist sudden lurches one way or the other, and we’re mostly fine with that as it’s served us well since our founding. Same-sex marriage can be a decider after the economy and now the Obama administration’s trustworthiness and on or two other things get higher billing. But to the extent that same-sex marriage is a decider, it’s a net loser for those who support it at this point. Just look at North Carolina’s recent vote. Polls showed a close vote going in, but the actual vote wasn’t close at all. Either voters told pollsters one thing but voted differently, or they came in to vote from a naturally (not necessarily politically) conservative point of view and decided against ratifying something that they’re not sure about and haven’t seen the consequences of given enough public discussion.
But at the proverbial end of the day, and I say this as a confirmed social conservative, social issues aren’t at the top of the list this time around. Social issues fire up the lefty base and therefore the mainstream media as well, but they’re not driving this election. The economy and whether Barack Obama can trusted will trump just about everything else. Attacking Romney now for a position that Obama himself held until just a few months ago plays into that trust issue, and not in a way that’s likely to help Obama with anyone but his hard-core base.