A new book about the 2012 presidential election is due out Tuesday, but the advance leaks are already flowing. Double Down: Game Change 2012, by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, chronicles the ins-and-outs of the election, including a rundown of President Obama’s decision to support gay marriage. According to the book, two things are clear: Vice President Biden spoke out of turn when he voiced his support for marriage before the president, and Obama has actually been supportive of marriage equality since 2004.
Halperin and Heilemann say that the White House had carefully planned a rollout of the president’s evolution on marriage equality, when Biden blew it by giving an interview in which he said was “absolutely comfortable” with same-sex weddings. When Obama advisor David Plouffe saw the transcript of the interview, he exploded. “WHAT THE FUCK? We were going to do this! In the next two weeks! As a fucking surprise!” according to Halperin and Heilemann,
Given the kudos that Biden got for his non-gaffe, he doesn’t come across in the book as all that sharp on gay issues. His gaydar is described as “nonfunctional,” with Biden not even knowing how many gay staffers he has.
The White House scrambled to find an appropriate venue for the President to make his own statement, finally settling on an interview with Robin Roberts. When it was done, Obama told Plouffe, “I feel so good about that.” According to the book, Obama was likely being politically expedient when he said he opposed same-sex marriage. Former spokesman Robert Gibbs is quoted as saying he heard Obama express his support for marriage equality in 2004, and many of Obama’s advisors believe that he was always supportive of it.
Of course, taking that position in 2008 would have been a lot riskier, and in politics, minimizing risk is considered essential to winning, even at the expense of principle.