The Obama presidency is only one week old, but it has already limned its main moral outlines:
On January 20, President Obama called for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. He also declared his intention to give multiple rights and privileges to homosexual couples.
On January 22, he issued an order announcing his intention to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay within one year, but admits he has not figured out how to do that. President Bush had expressed a similar wish, but could find no nations willing to take responsibility for the detainees.
On January 23, President Obama issued an order that authorizes tax dollars for abortions abroad.
From these announcements we learn that President Obama recognizes no difference between the Jewish-Christian covenant between a woman and a man (a covenant that they will have and nurture children, if they are so blessed), and a civil contract between two persons of any sex, in order to set up a household of affection and sexual favors.
This is a relapse into paganism. The point of monogamous family networks is to treat male and female with complementary and mutually cooperative dignity and to tie the power of sexuality (male, especially) to self-sacrificing communities of love.
We learn, second, that this president’s guiding light in matters of national security is not a realistic assessment of the national interest but personal concern for what kind of figure he is cutting in the international eye. Good headlines first, practical thinking later.
Thirdly, we learn that the president is willing to do what a substantial bloc of U.S. taxpayers abhor, and will resist in conscience. Moreover, it is a mistake to think that people in most other nations love, honor, and respect the secularist preoccupation with abortion.
The first week did not have to begin this way. These first steps were unworthy of a great nation and unworthy of a serious leader. These decisions humiliated those who voted for President Obama because they had been assured, and assured others, that the new president would take seriously the culture of life. It is now clear that the new president was willing to allow those who risked their moral reputations to support him to feel in retrospect like liars. E.J. Dionne expressly warned the president-elect against not to issue these early executive orders.
In his first week in office, Bill Clinton deeply wounded the moral force of his own presidency by turning abruptly against those who regard abortion as the greatest evil of our time, as slavery was in Lincoln’s time. It is sad to see a Democratic president make that same mistake again.