It seems there is still some debate about how much the Senate’s refusal to back a marriage Amendment hurt President Bush in terms of his re-election campaign.
Let’s settle this once and for all. It didn’t hurt him at all. It probably helped. At the very least, it went exactly according to plan. Do you really think that W and Rove made a mistake by pushing too hard on this issue? No chance. The goal was to throw a bone to the far right base and to make further attempts to equate the state of Massachusetts with a Roman bath house.
An actual push for an actual Amendment would have made Bush look like too much of a homophobic hater. That plays well in some sectors (Santorum’s office, for example), but it wouldn’t help much in a general election. So by backing a bill that was doomed to fail and fail early, Bush earns the allegiance of the religious right while not really losing much (other than the moral highground which he ceded about the time Dennis Miller stopped being funny).
During rare off the cuff comments, W likely gives us the best insight into his real feelings on gay marriage, etc: “What they do in the privacy of their house, consenting adults should be able to do. This is America. It’s a free society. But it doesn’t mean we have to redefine traditional marriage.”
That attitude doesn’t quite have the fire and brimstone to excite the far right base. But backing an Amendment probably does.
While I understand the President’s reasoning (a phrase I never thought I’d write), I am at a loss to explain why so many individuals and organizations have made the abolishment of gay marriage their top cause. Look, I’m pro-choice, but I can completely understand why someone who opposes abortion would become passionate about that cause. Want to dedicate yourself to one side or the other when it comes to education or healthcare? Go for it. And certainly, we can all relate to the positions on either side when it comes to war and peace and other such matters.
But how does one wake up one day and decide that the issue they want to dedicate their time, energy and cash to is the battle to keep gay people from getting married?