Published for www.commentarymagazine.com, May 15, 2012
I wanted to add a few thoughts to Jonathan’s post, with which I entirely concur.
The CBS News/New York Times poll, if only because of the source, must be creating panic at Obama re-election headquarters. So afraid of the results are Team Obama that campaign officials are actually attacking the poll — whose sample of registered voters is weighted in favor of Democrats (36 percent Democrats, 30 percent Republicans, and 34 percent independents) – as “significantly biased” in favor of Republicans. Of course it is. And Republicans are the ones who are supposed to be members of a “faith-based community” instead of the “reality-based” one.
As bad as the results are — showing support for Romney among women to be higher than support for Obama among women — my hunch is that what’s really driving the president crazy is that 67 percent of Americans think Obama’s stand on same-sex marriage was done mostly for political reasons rather than principled ones.
President Obama, after all, has presented himself to us – and seems to fancy himself to be – a man of rare political integrity and courage. The narrative they would have us believe is that Obama is an individual driven by the highest and purist motivations. He doesn’t simply want our support; he wants our reverence, our respect, and our awe. It helps explain the cult-like nature of the 2008 campaign.
So for Obama to be seen as just another scheming politician must really grate at him.
The truth, of course, is Obama is just that. Even for a politician, his stands on same-sex marriage – he was for it, then against it, then neutral on it, before he once again came out in favor of it – have been transparently cynical. And for Vice President Biden of all people to receive credit for forcing Obama to embrace same-sex marriage has, as we know, enraged Obama’s top aides.
Obama’s mask continues to slip. He is nothing like the image he created (post-ideological, non-partisan, high-minded, inspirational, unifying). He is, it turns out, a very liberal, rather ruthless, and deeply cynical politician. The fact that he is these things doesn’t bother him in the least. But the fact that more and more Americans are aware he’s these things bothers him quite a lot.