The President of the United States did a good thing when he told Americans he supported same-sex marriage. It was overdue but the right thing to say. Whatever the motivations or the circumstances, the statement supported a principled stand that will help make us a better nation.
So let’s hear it for . . . Joe Biden, whose simple, humane statement two days earlier pushed his boss into saying something that needed to be said but that he either didn’t want to say or wasn’t quite ready to say. In our political culture, Joe just made one of those “gaffes” — something a politician says that’s correct or true when saying it is supposed to be awkward. More “gaffes,” please, Joe.
The reactions across the political spectrum have been predictable. People who just can’t deal with human sexuality, let alone its infinite variation, condemned it out of fear, hatred or religious bigotry. Mitt Romney, now revealed as a spoiled, privileged frat boy who bullied — and physically assaulted — other kids in high school — it fits, doesn’t it? — added to their chorus, because he wants the bully vote.
But if you look at the non-bullying part of America, the response has been strongly favorable, and many are proud that for the first time ever, a President of the United States publicly said same-sex marriage is just fine.
So it seems somewhat strange, though not totally surprising, to see the President and his political advisers unable to understand that the good this might do for the President’s image depends on convincing people that he did it for principled reasons. Instead, they seem intent on telling us that they did it only because Joe Biden foolishly shot his mouth off and forced the President’s hand, when in fact Mr. Biden just did the country and his boss a big favor and should be praised for his honest, apparently heartfelt “gaffe,” rather than mocked.
A “thanks, Joe, I needed that” is what the President should have said.
Today, however, Mr. Obama condescended to tell us Biden got “a little bit over his skis,” while the White House let the media know that Mr. Biden had apologized to the President. From the New York Times:
Mr. Obama, in an interview with ABC News, said the vice president had gotten “a little bit over his skis” but had done so “out of generosity of spirit.” The president bore Mr. Biden no lingering ill will, according to several officials, though the episode enraged Mr. Obama’s senior advisers in the White House and on the campaign.
Well, how generous not to bear Joe any “lingering ill will” for having said the right thing. And once again, Obama’s political advisers show us how incompetent they are in protecting the President’s image, let alone promoting the nation’s interests.
Here we need to talk about the art of skiing. If you’re just learning on the slightly sloped “bunny slope,” you tend to fall down a lot, mostly on your butt. You’re so fearful of falling forward while going a teeny bit forward that you tend to lean back, and so you fall on your butt, over and over.
To improve, you need a bit of courage. You have to stop leaning back and be willing to face forward — downhill — and go that way, staying over your skis. Of course, if you get too far in front over the skis, you can fall that way too . . . or go faster.
Joe’s “problem” is that he’s a bit more willing to ski faster and isn’t afraid to lean forward a lot more than Mr. Obama. But Joe’s statement wasn’t unbalanced; it was principled, timely, pitch perfect. So the fact that it made Mr. Obama look like a beginner on the bunny slopes is Mr. Obama’s problem — and ours.
Earth to White House: you’ve spent over three years falling on your butt out of fear that you’d fall forward. You’re still acting like beginners. You can’t lead the country that way. Get off your butts and out in front.
Now, about that ENDA Executive Order . . .