The Corner

Base Jumping

Whatever the legal merits or demerits of the Obama administration’s decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, politically it looks like a sign that Karl Rove has once again got into their heads and inspired Obama’s political team to rally the Democratic base for next year’s election. Given the Left’s many disappointments (Guantanamo still open, Bush tax cuts extended, Afghan war expanded, etc.), something high-profile like dumping DOMA will go a long way toward juicing the bankers of the Left in Hollywood and elsewhere.

Bill Galston, a sensible and straight-shooting liberal, saw this coming a while ago, and observes the defects in a worthy piece in The New Republic. In describing what he calls a “Colorado versus Ohio” strategy, Galston concludes:

It’s easy to claim that the administration need not choose between a Colorado strategy and an Ohio strategy. At the level of tactics, that may be true. If the Obama campaign raises as much money as, or more than it did, in 2008, it will be able to organize and advertise everywhere. But at a deeper level, that doesn’t hold. The administration can have only one agenda. If its policy choices over the next 18 months are directed principally toward mobilizing voters from its base, it will pay a price among the millions of others without whose support Obama would never have been elected.

Dumping DOMA doesn’t look like a strategy that will play well in Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, or other states Obama carried last time. Maybe the title for this post should be “Broken Axelrod.”

Steven F. Hayward is a visiting professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a fellow of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. He writes daily at

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