Candidate Bush and the Gays
The Marriage Amendment as Phony Issue Number One.
March 3, 2004
- MSNBC, February 25
I have the old-fashioned habit of referring to George W. Bush as the President with a capital "P" to distinguish him from all other presidents on the face of the earth. He is the only person to whom belong the honor of the title and the dignity of the office
We can have but one President at a time. In The Clinton Wars, Sidney Blumenthal asserts that for eight years many Republicans never forgave Bill Clinton for being President and treated him as an interloper even though he had been elected twice. Blumenthal’s observation is not taken at face value by all, but if there is substance to it, we should be ashamed to see the attitude of the Clinton-haters imitated and applied to the current President or any future ones.
Once the President begins campaigning for re-election, however, he must develop two identities for himself. He is President Bush but also Candidate Bush. We must discern when he is speaking as President and when as candidate. George Bush the candidate, not George Bush the President, is running for office. That he is the President is a great advantage to his candidacy, but is not itself the candidacy.
In the case of the Gay Marriage Amendment, he is Candidate Bush all the way. He has already profited as much politically from his endorsement of it as he is ever going to. He doesn’t need to see the amendment adopted; only to say to its supporters, "I tried." Since there is nothing like the two-thirds of Congress required to pass the amendment on to the states for ratification, he gains the political benefit of his position without having to deal with the botheration down the road of implementation and enforcement.
The feeble reaction of his own leaders in Congress, Senator Bill Frist and Representative Tom DeLay, sounded as though Candidate Bush announced his support of the amendment without consulting them first. Said Frist, "Amending the Constitution is a huge issue. We’re going to go about this in a very thoughtful way." Said DeLay, "We’re looking at other ways of doing it, knowing that it will be very difficult to pass a constitutional amendment through both houses of Congress." From both of them I can barely hear the sound of one hand clapping.
If it were a presidential issue, the President’s goal would be passage of the Amendment. He would have guaranteed in advance the enthusiastic and informed backing of his congressional leaders and of his party’s state governors. But a candidate’s goal is nothing so sustained and laborious as getting an amendment through Congress and the state legislatures. Grabbing front-page headlines in the major daily papers is goal enough, and Candidate Bush achieved that.
Like the majority of Americans, I do not approve of gay marriage. But also like the majority of Americans, I do not approve of the federal government believing that everything can be fixed with legislation and amendment, or that it has the duty to stick its nose into the bedrooms and sanctuaries of the nation.
About the Author:
Barnabas knows that the Republicans do not have a monopoly on phony campaign issues. If you spot one with absurd and/or ethical implications, from either party, respond to the Editor below. Barnabas will see if he can pick up on your suggestion.
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