The always sharp Ed Morrissey has it about right on Obama and DOMA. This is a political move designed to distract attention from debates on public-sector unions and the budget that are not going the president’s way. It’s also a departure from Obama’s fundamental strategy of downplaying social issues and foreign policy so as to build a broad-based coalition around issues of economic populism. That was the approach of Obama’s organizing mentors, and I argue in Radical-in-Chief that Obama has adopted it for himself.
For Obama to risk that broader strategy now is a sign of weakness. I suggested the other day in “Obama’s Wisconsin Bind” that having unpopular public-sector unions as the face of his coalition might force him into aggressive but risky efforts to shore up a broader-based movement of the Left. The problem for Obama is that assembling such a movement forces him to drop his centrist persona. Yet that is what events are now demanding of him.
Did anyone on any part of the political spectrum ever actually believe that Obama opposed gay marriage? That was never anything but disguise. This new move suggests that the centrist mask is slipping, the country is polarizing, and Obama is being forced to fly his true flag. I don’t doubt that the president will continue to resist full disclosure of his leftist political allegiances. Yet that is the direction in which he is now being pulled.