Sometimes the New Yorker’s stable of artists just gets it right on the money;
There’s been a barrage of op-ed pieces about Obama finally coming out (sorry) in favor of gays’ rights to access the divorce courts on the same level as everyone else, and as a matter of social policy it’s all about time. Long past time in fact.
As a matter of politics it just might be a sign that the administration is learning how to play hardball too. It’s no secret that the GOP is struggling with a schism, and not just on social policy. As has been described here on many occasions, the GOP has been colonized, most especially at precinct level, by a resolute band of inflexible zealots nostalgic for the imagined simplicity of the Bronze Age. The development of that phenomenon—as a matter of deliberate strategy— is documented fairly thoroughly in the Dominionist series here. In a classic case of “be careful what you wish for” the GOP is now alienating its own intelligent conservatives and experienced political operatives, and even throwing them out by defeating them in the primary process, Senator Lugar being one recent example.
It’s not just about social policy anymore either. Every week or so a republican congressional member will nervously poke their head above the ramparts and suggest that perhaps, um, you know, maybe that Norquist pledge thing is not what we should be welded to. It’s not what you could call open rebellion, at least not yet, but the ice is cracking. Two reasons for this, I think.
First, on the social issues, is that the American public is not entirely the bunch of repressed curtain-twitching deviants that the religious right would like them to be. For the most part they have grown to kinda like the idea that contraception actually works and is available, and women in particular have come to prefer being able to choose not to carry a pregnancy they weren’t planning to term if they don’t want to without having to deal with coathangers in the middle of the night.
Most people know, and in many cases are fond of, someone who is gay. Many have gay family members, and the idea that they are instruments of the devil just doesn’t wash with anything like a majority. And let’s be clear about that, too—even as the arguments are often framed differently, the idea that “loosening” the laws governing social issues is the actual handiwork of Satan is central to the religious objections, and without the various religious campaigns to impose Old Testament cosmology upon the 21st Century there is precious little organized resistance at all.
Second, and on the economic front, is the increasing awareness that drowning government in the bathtub, a la Norquist, is not as attractive an idea as perhaps it first appeared when it was carefully marketed as “increased freedom™”. Not, at least, when it becomes more obvious what kind of things actually happen when such schemes swing into action and services evaporate. Demanding “austerity” on the part of ordinary people while the wheeler-dealers again announce that, dang it, they lost another couple of billion behind the couch cushions somehow is becoming a tougher sell by the minute. Not that there’s any need for regulations to discourage that kind of carelessness, of course.
So, yeah, things are still logjammed in a big way, but the President’s ploy to just simply announce support for gay marriage, and on the eve of the passage of a State Constitutional Initiative to ban it, is a pretty slick way to raise the temperature, and thus the pressure, within the GOP itself. There are any number of intelligent conservatives remaining in the republican party who don’t buy into either the Norquist monomaniacal dogma, or the curtain-twitching social intrusiveness, and this little move (well, it’s a big move, of course it is) serves to further illuminate that.
So now Willy the Weasel has to figure out what he believes, or what he will say he believes, yet again. If he doubles down on his unambiguous opposition, the numbers start to hurt, and if he tries to finesse it he has to shake the etch-a-sketch again.
Christ, it even cuts Dick Cheney out of the pack for once.
Not bad. Keep it up.