Saturday, July 10, 2004

Desperate, Pathetic Pandering

But that's just my opinion.
President Bush says legalizing gay marriage would redefine the most fundamental institution of civilization and that a constitutional amendment is needed to protect it.
What's yours?


  1. Aaron,

    I'm wondering about how to read your construction.

    Are you asserting that, because this is an act of pandering (presumably, to the "religious right"), it is "desperate and pathetic"? Or rather that it is desperate, pathetic, AND an act of pandering?

    As to whether it's pandering or not, I'm not certain, but I see no reason to believe so. Bush seems sincerely concerned that same-sex marriage in one state could bubble out, through the courts, to a national institution. The *possibility* of that seems plausible to me. One would be "concerned" about such an outcome to the extent that one believes same-sex marriage could be socially corrosive/harmful, I suppose.

    I can't give a short account of my own position, except to say that I think there's a rational and humane kernel to the notion of same-sex marriage which is over-amplified/exaggerated into the claim that there's no relevant social-moral difference between a same-sex couple and the usual case of man-woman.

    Hence I'm no enthusiast for same-sex "marriage" - though I'm likewise unenthusiastic about modifying the constitution to institutionalize the status quo.

  2. That was from me, by the way - Paul (Craddick)

  3. Of course there's a relevant difference: in same-sex couples, how do you know which partner complains about never having enough sex and which one cooks breakfast? Yes, I joke, but it's exactly those sort of stupid distinctions same-sex marriage opponents enshrine.

  4. Paul, the word "and" can be used.

    Previously Bush has tiptoed on the fence, suggesting that an amendment "might" be necessary but refusing to endorse one. Now he favors an amendment. The only thing that has changed between "then" and "now" are his approval ratings.

    Moreover, if he is speaking from the heart and believes the amendment is absolutely necessary, why didn't he say so from day one?

  5. Aaron,

    Again, I find myself in the somewhat uncomfortable position of appearing to be more of a Bush "fan" than I really am, but anyhow ...

    What I was driving at was whether or not your negative assessment was contingent on your judgment that Bush's actions were nothing but "pandering." That is an either-or ("XOR" for programmers).

    As to why he did what, when - of course I don't know for sure. But I find it strange that you seem to suggest that there's something suspicious in a person *deliberating*. Granted his premises - and bearing in mind that as always politics is the "art of the possible" - it seems reasonable to take stock of one's options; there's nothing inherently unreasonable in saying "after due consideration, in light of my assessment of the current scene, I consider it 'absolutely necessary' to do such-and-such ..."


  6. You seriously think that Bush was sitting on the fence about a gay marriage amendment because he was "deliberating"? You mean, about the actual issue, as opposed to "deliberating" with Karl Rove about the effect of his statement on the election? You are far less cynical than I had realized....

    Hypotheticals aside, I also don't recall that Bush ever claimed that his sudden endorsement of the amendment was the result of thought or deliberation, nor do I recall him observing any new developments which might have transformed a prior option into a present necessity. Thomas Frank probably has it about right, in today's Times.

  7. "You are far less cynical than I had realized"

    I take it that's a polite way of saying that I'm naive :)


  8. Heh. Not quite. Had that been the case, I might have suggested that you were charmingly non-cynical. ;-)

    About half the country thinks more of Bush than I do. So you have company - a lot of it. Whether or not it's good company... ;-)