GOP Rule: You Get a Pass on Issues That Affect You Personally, But Don't Show Empathy to Others
President Obama still isn't ready to endorse gay marriage, even after Vice President Biden gave his endorsement.
You can see that as politically necessary caution, cravenness, or some combination of the two -- but please, Joe Scarborough, don't try to tell me that Dick Cheney was braver than President Obama when he endorsed gay marriage:
This morning, Joe Scarborough and David Gregory mocked the White House's efforts to push back against Vice President Joe Biden's embrace of marriage equality, with the Meet The Press host remarking "that this administration appears poised to change its position on same-sex marriage." Scarborough asked why the president's rich gay donors "don't just give to Dick Cheney because Dick Cheney supports gay marriage?" "When is the president going to be as brave as Dick Cheney?" he pressed.
Republicans want their politicians to be hardcore, but if you're a GOP pol, you get a pass on certain issues if they affect a group of which you're a member. That's why John McCain, a torture victim, was able to get away with saying that waterboarding is torture. That's why Dick Cheney, father of a lesbian, was able to get away with positive words about gay marriage. That's why, more recently, the usually extremely hardcore congressman Allen West, an African-American, was able to get away with expressing outrage at the death of Trayvon Martin.
These carve-outs for Republicans basically track with right-wing thinking about empathy: If an issue doesn't affect you personally, or an affinity group of yours, why should you give a crap about how it affects other people?
So that's why Cheney was given a free pass by the Republican base. That's why he wasn't brave.
Oh, and please recall that Dick Cheney just so happened to endorse gay marriage in August 2004 in response to a conveniently timed question from a voter on the campaign trail in 2004 on the very day that his partycirculated a platform calling for a constitutional gay marriage ban. So if you think Biden and Obama are cynically sending mixed signals, well, perhaps they're following the reelection template of George W. Bush and "brave" Dick Cheney.
(X-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.)