The blogosphere got all excited this weekend when Vice President Joe Biden said on Meet the Press that he’s “absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights.” But it turns out that this was much ado about nothing, as usual, as the Obama administration continues its pointless and incoherent political dance on this issue. Chris Geidner nails it:
Then, the clarifications began — and the world saw the interview through the Obama administration’s marriage equality looking-glass.
Initially, NBC News’s Chuck Todd tweeted, “VP Biden on @meetthepress indicates he’s comfortable with gay marriage. Going farther publicly than POTUS,” and then: “Biden’s office tells me he was speaking for his own evolving on marriage not for the admin.”
David Axelrod, communications director with Obama’s re-election campaign, quickly shot back: “What VP said-that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights-is precisely POTUS’s position.”
A spokesperson with the vice president’s office also tells Metro Weekly the same thing, but then went slightly further — adding in a note suggesting that the vice president has not reached a position of supporting full marriage equality.
“The Vice President was saying what the President has said previously — that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to rollback those rights,” the spokeserson said. “That’s why we stopped defending the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act in legal challenges and support legislation to repeal it.
“Beyond that, the Vice President was expressing that he too is evolving on the issue, after meeting so many committed couples and families in this country.”
It’s there that the unworkable nature of the administration’s position is, once again, made clear…
The attempted distinction, to which the administration appears desperately to be clinging, is that there is a difference between being comfortable with marriage equality and supporting it.
It is as if the administration wants to be on record not opposing marriage equality — while at the same time not actually supporting it, either.
That’s exactly what they want to do and what they’ve been doing for the past four years. And it is easily predictable that both President Obama’s slow public “evolution” will end around the second week of November. Because none of this has anything at all to do with principle, it’s purely about being timid and risk-averse. It’s about political triangulation and political convenience. But is there any purpose to it? Is there anyone who might vote for him today who would not vote for him if he embraced marriage equality completely? Maybe, but I doubt it.