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Obama Signals He’ll Back Gay Marriage if the Politics Work

by Keith Koffler on December 23, 2010, 11:33 am

Sometimes, it’s difficult to understand what presidents are actually saying. That’s because, while it sounds a lot like English, they are actually speaking a different language.

This presidential language is only partially intelligible to English speakers. It includes words and phrases that actually mean something different than seems apparent. For this, the patented White House Dossier Nonsense Detector™ has been developed to ferret out the true meaning.

But sometimes, whole paragraphs are spoken by presidents in their own special language, and nothing is understood correctly. For this, the Nonsense Detector™ has a special switch that, when flipped to “On,” translates presidential speech in its entirety.

Yesterday, as President Obama answered a question by ABC’s Jake Tapper about how he could be so supportive of allowing gays to be “out” in the military while opposing gay marriage, I realized I would need the special Nonsense Detector™ translation feature to understand what he was saying.

So I immediately turned it on. Here’s what we got.

Obama: “With respect to the issue of whether gays and lesbians should be able to get married, I’ve spoken about this recently.  As I’ve said, my feelings about this are constantly evolving.  I struggle with this.  I have friends, I have people who work for me, who are in powerful, strong, long-lasting gay or lesbian unions.  And they are extraordinary people, and this is something that means a lot to them and they care deeply about.”

Translation by the patented Nonsense Detector™:

I wish you hadn’t asked me this, because I don’t want to talk about it and I recently addressed the issue. During the 2008 campaign, I said unequivocally, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman.” But as I’ve indicated more recently, I’m constantly taking the nation’s political temperature to see if it’s OK for me to say that I support gay marriage. I struggle with this, because it’s so obvious to everyone that someone as liberal as I am could not possibly be somehow aligned with the Christian right on this one. I have friends in gay unions, and it’s really uncomfortable for me to face them and other progressive buddies of mine and tell them with a straight face that I oppose same-sex marriage. I mean, they care deeply about this, and they’re constantly giving me shit about it.

Obama: At this point, what I’ve said is, is that my baseline is a strong civil union that provides them the protections and the legal rights that married couples have. And I think that’s the right thing to do.  But I recognize that from their perspective it is not enough, and I think is something that we’re going to continue to debate and I personally am going to continue to wrestle with going forward.

Patented Nonsense Detector™ translation:

At this point, I’m not ready to change my position, because Axelrod says, “No way, Jose.” Actually, it’s not even a position, it’s a “baseline,” which implies one can move on from there. I recognize that lots of progressives and gay rights activists are pissed off at me about this, so I’m going to continue to see if there’s a way to change my opinion before the 2012 campaign. Otherwise, it will have to wait.

Actually, one portion of the president’s remarks didn’t need translation. Obama said his “feelings about this are constantly evolving,” and this indeed is quite clear. In 1996, well before he had to deal with being on the national stage, Obama told a gay newspaper that he was in favor of same-sex marriage.


Star December 23, 2010 at 11:44 am

My favorite is “pivot.” This means “Ooops, I lied before, now this is true, you can believe it.” Now, I gather, we are “pivoting” to an emphasis on job creation. If you knew how to do THAT, guy, it would have come up by now.

What do I know. The punditry has him a conquering hero, so smart, back in the game–all I saw at that presser was the same old blah-blah.

Well, God bless us every one, I guess. Does he even believe in that? Take a poll!

Star December 23, 2010 at 12:23 pm

On the gay marriage thing, I was struck my his comment that the gay people he knew were really nice people–sort of like he was surprised and also like this meant they should be allowed to marry or he didn’t want to disappoint a nice person. I don’t know–it sounded kind of off to me.

Keith Koffler December 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm

It is off. A president’s positions on issues shouldn’t really be determined by whether nice people want him to do something.

srdem65 December 23, 2010 at 1:29 pm

As a ‘true’ liberal, I don’t care who marries who (or what, or how many) as long as I’m not involved, have to pay for it or be part of it.

Star December 24, 2010 at 11:01 am

I looked back on what you wrote, Keith–he said the gays he knew were “exceptional” people…so I guess he believes in Gay Exceptionalism, but demurs on American Exceptionalism.

Keith Koffler December 25, 2010 at 10:42 am

Star! He does! He believes in gay exceptionalism, American exceptionalsim, Italian exceptionism, Norwegian excpetionalism, Iwo Jimian excpetionalism, grumpy grandpa exceptionalism, and so forth.

Star December 26, 2010 at 12:07 pm

But ABOVE ALL–all together now–Obama Exceptionalism!

Keith Koffler December 23, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Darn JE – wish I’d found that TM – would have been perfect.