Looks Can Be Deceiving

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At first glance, it seemed like a brilliant idea. President Barack Obama, faced with a campaign sinking like CNN’s primetime ratings, abruptly threw his social policy in reverse and “endorsed” same-sex marriage. Within moments, his remarkable economic ineptitude, the abandonment of the labor pool by hundreds of thousands of citizens, the stratospheric national debt, the unstable-and-getting-worse situation in the Mideast, his unapologetic racism and even the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder is neck-deep in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal all became afterthoughts. Granted, the sycophants in the corporate media would actually have to acknowledge the aforementioned Obama benchmarks in order to stop acknowledging them, but the message was clear.

With one well-timed blurb, Obama turned around his campaign. The corporate media, always willing to hail Obama as a hero, fell over each other to present the President’s flip-flop as a brave and principled stand by an ever-evolving man of deep thought and deeper conviction. The Washington Post and other liberal organs proffered fawning profiles. The tattered remnants of Newsweek, completing its dive into the used bathwater of left-wing tabloid “journalism,” even leaked a copy of its next cover, featuring a “hero” angle shot of Obama with a rainbow-hued halo hovering above his head. It was a moment of absolute brilliance from the man whom the media has already taken to calling the Nation’s “First Gay President.”

But that first glance was as wrong as Bill Maher’s stand-up routine.

First of all, Obama had no intention of reversing himself on gay marriage — at least, not now. Were it not for the verbal diarrhea that poured out of Vice President Joe Biden’s piehole on May 6, Obama would likely have waited until October to deploy his rainbow parachute. While it is possible that Biden was tasked with floating the gay marriage test balloon, it seems unlikely that Obama would waste such a theoretically momentous move so early in the campaign season. It seems even less likely that Obama would use Biden as a stalking horse in place of someone who doesn’t remind Americans of the crazy uncle they can’t leave alone with the kids.

Secondly, Obama didn’t actually reverse himself on gay marriage. In fact, he moved from opposing the idea in 2008 to offering only lukewarm acceptance in 2012. During his now-infamous game of rhetorical softball with ABC sock puppet Robin Roberts: “The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own.” Translation: He supports gay marriage, just as long as no one expects him to do anything other than pay it lip service.

Americans tend to take a jaundiced view of overt political moves masquerading as principle. Granted, liberals tend to be more pliable on that front, considering that they define themselves by politics and generally eschew principle. But Obama has already made it clear that he won’t be adding same-sex marriage to his electoral platform. Without a clear statement of intent, the President’s supposedly era-defining statement is nothing more than political smoke and mirrors, more hype standing in for meaningful hope. By pandering to voters who consider same-sex marriage a defining issue, he’s preaching to the choir — albeit in an exceptionally patronizing manner.

Moreover, Obama’s decision to “come out” may well have been a terminal miscalculation. An increasing number of Americans realize that Obama is a Presidential magic act: long on show, short on substance. This is a President whose endeavors have been so shrouded by scandal and failure that his latest campaign pitch involves reminding people that Seal Team 6 killed Osama bin Laden last year. Polling indicates that his gay marriage ploy has alienated voters either opposed to the concept or merely offended by his latest duplicitous distraction from the dire circumstances into which he has plunged the rest of us.

Regardless of your opinion of same-sex marriage, Obama’s attempt to draw our collective gaze away from his lack of accomplishment and toward meaningless theatrics stinks worse than an Occupy Wall Street rally on a summer day. But America has already seen this show, and we didn’t really enjoy it that much the first time around.

–Ben Crystal

Ben Crystal

is a 1993 graduate of Davidson College and has burned the better part of the last two decades getting over the damage done by modern-day higher education. He now lives in Savannah, Ga., where he has hosted an award-winning radio talk show and been featured as a political analyst for television. Currently a principal at Saltymoss Productions—a media company specializing in concept television and campaign production, speechwriting and media strategy—Ben has written numerous articles on the subjects of municipal authoritarianism, the economic fallacy of sin taxes and analyses of congressional abuses of power.