Socarides: Obama’s Evolution Was An Ill-Advised “Political Calculation”

Clearly, until today, the President had been making a political calculation—one that had outlived its usefulness. In some ways, it’s amazing that he was able to maintain a not-yes-but-not-no position for as long as he did. While it was a useful electoral strategy, changes in public opinion and in the culture have created a new reality. Obama’s political advisers badly underestimated the extent to which the marriage issue would remain at the forefront of the national discussion—and the determination of those of us who work to keep it there.

So while this is an important moment in civil-rights history, it is also an important moment in political history—in which the lesson, for the gay community and, perhaps, for anyone advocating for change, is that words are important, but we have to insist on action from our friends.”

—political strategist and LGBT activist Richard Socarides in an op-ed on The New Yorker website

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  • Christopher

    Dan, where in this quotation does it use the term “ill-advised”, as you do in your headline? I see it referred to as a “useful electoral strategy” that had outlived its usefulness due to changes in public opinion. That does not mean ill-advised.

    So where does it say ill advised, or are you just making things up again for headlines?

    The article referenced had a completely different point from your ill-advised headline.

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @Christopher: Wow, you are absolutely correct — I read the whole opinion piece on the New Yorker site, and there is NOT AN IOTA of “ill-advised” and no second-guessing nor softness in Socarides remarks.

    I have written several time before my disgust and distaste of the yesteryear Kapo activities of Richard Socarides. He has yet at accept ANY responsibility for DADT and DOMA, two signature pieces of legislation directed under his office at the White House during the Clinton years. And, in the New Yorker piece, he certainly dancing around his Kapo activities with the use of the “Republican inspired DOMA” — HA, you fucking Kapo hack — just because the Republicans pushed DOMA did not mean that the Clinton White House had to not only jump on the bandwagon, Socarides personally teamed the horses to lead the DOMA charge.

    So, while here Socarides gives good credit where it is due, Richard, you are still a fucking douche bag who will forever be the Kapo pig you have always been. President Obama’s actions do not erase your cowardice and traitorous actions against the LGBT community.

  • Danny

    I’d just be happy if Queerty stopped running ads that fundraise for anti-gay groups, like the one’s that ask poll questions about marriage being hetero only.

  • QJ201

    This is why our “community” sucks.

    I doubt that black american’s attacked politicians who “came around” to support civil rights in the 50’s and 60’s.

    But us…no it’s all like “where the f*ck have you been” and “oh it’s just politics”

    And of course the most rabid attacks are coming from Kapos and the Auntie Tom’s.

  • Daez

    @Danny: Seems like someone needs to get a decent browser with Ad Block. What ads? Although, I do feel what you are saying the first time I put them on Ad Block.

  • Chandler In Las Vegas

    Another quote from a discredited gay politico. Wa-wa-wa. Socarides aught to marry a woman and make his daddy happy and leave his political calculations to living down-low.

  • SteveC

    Richard Socarides is scum – he’s not quite at the depths where Ken Mehlman lurks, but the idea that Socarides has anything of value to add to LGBT equality considering his disgustingly homophobic past behavior is laughable.

  • Me

    Uh, read between the lines. Did you all miss the part about how Obama believes marriage equality should be “up to the states to decide”? How does that make him any different than any other segregationist? If “the states” had their way, Obama’s white mother and black father would not have been legally recognized as married in many of them when Obama was a child. Also, separate lunch counters and public swimming pools would be the rule for blacks and whites. What was Obama thinking (as a so-called constitutional legal scholar) when he stupidly said that?

    Now, the proponents of Prop 8, as well as other state anti-equality movements, have more fuel to fire up their justification for constitutional amendments to ban our marriages. Marriage is a federal right (not just a state right), as the US Supreme Court decided very clearly in Loving v. Virginia in 1967. What is wrong with Obama to have remarked so foolishly that “the states should decide” who is popular enough to have equal rights? What a fucking moron.

  • Kamikapse

    So even after he came out in favor of equality we’re still nagging? Great.

  • Christopher

    @Me: Did you just call the president of the united states, the first president to come out for marriage equality, a “fucking moron”? Pot meet kettle.

    Even when Bush was president, and I despised everything he stood for, I, at least had respect for the office and the country and would never have referred to s sitting President in those terms.

    You are an embarrassment,

  • Cam

    I saw an interview with him, he didn’t say it was ill advised. He said it was great that Obama ignored the advice he was getting and it says a lot about the country that we have moved this far.

  • Sean

    You are so correct in your assessment. The hateful comments from the “gay community” are incredibly embarrassing.

  • WillBFair

    @Sean: Hateful? Sweet Mary, someone is fragile.
    We are trying to get Obama re-elected, and we think it’s a strategic mistake to do this before the election. There’s a House to win back, Supreme Court appointments to worry about, and a fragile economy. All these are much, much more important than Obama stating a person opinion, one that could blow the election.
    If we’re hateful, other are self involved. It’s about electoral strategy, and only people who can put aside their selfishness for one second should have the legitimacy to speak.
    Actually, this community is too self destructive for words. They let the right decide that our main issue would be marraige, where we are weakest. Then the activists pushed until Obama caved, so the right will be able to use this as a wedge issue to win in Nov. It’s too horrible. I’m turing in my membership card.

  • Daez

    @Me: There are PLENTY of out and proud gays and lesbians that think that it should be up to the states to decide. Unfortunately, it is not currently up to the states because anything the states do decide gets trumped by DOMA. Obama is against DOMA, and that makes him different from every other homophobic segregationist.

    Actually, it is you that needs to do your research because the VAST majority of states were already throwing off segregation and becoming more prone to civil rights for all racial minorities when Obama was born. The states did decide in that case, and they decided that the southern states were taking the wrong stance.

  • Daez

    @WillBFair: Are you so blind that you can not see that those that refuse to vote for Obama because he is for gay rights already refused to vote for him over a plethora of different matters?

    Also, this forces Romney to admit his bigotry, which is something that he was hoping to avoid having to do. Around 75% of this country is for civil unions. Many more people believe that civil unions should be the law of the land than believe that they should not. Romney was forced to come out against civil unions to keep his base happy. That will look worse for him than it does for Obama in 2012.

    Obama is one of the most brilliant political minds we have ever seen in the history of this country, and every step he takes is cold and calculated.

  • Cam

    @WillBFair: said…

    “We are trying to get Obama re-elected, and we think it’s a strategic mistake to do this before the election. There’s a House to win back, Supreme Court appointments to worry about, and a fragile economy. All these are much, much more important than Obama stating a person opinion, one that could blow the election.”

    The problem is, it sounds like a lot of people have battered women syndrome. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to many that with close to 70% of Democrats, a large majority of Independents, and even over 20% of Republicans supporting gay marriage, this won’t hurt Obama. If ANY other govt. program etc… had opinion levels like that nobody would be wondering why Obama took an opinion on it. It’s a shame too many in the gay community still seem to think that being gay is somehow shameful and will always lose you votes.

    Those 20% of republicans may have gay children and until now have been told that OBama is no different than Romney on Gay marriage. Suddenly Obama has taken that excuse away from them.

  • Daez

    @Cam: While I agree with you. In the defense of many, I would have to say that this change of opinion, of the populous not of Obama, has come at a rather hastened pace. The gay rights movement is making leaps and bounds every single year. It is almost like gay people started coming out and standing up for their rights. Pure exposure to LGBT people is what changes the rule set.

  • Jollysocks

    @ WillBFair: Then go ahead and turn in your “membership card” and stop clicking and pasting that onto every gay blog in the country.

  • WillBFair

    @Cam: I hope you’re right. But there’s a chance that your stats are cooked. Don’t forget, they have used us as a wedge issue for decades. And it’s probably too early to know whether the strategy will still work. Certainly a few random percentages are not conclusive, while ignoring the vagaries of the electoral college. But I’m glad that you’re willing to take the risk on the strength of a few questionable opinion polls.
    I only hope that Obama has access to more decisive totals than I’ve seen. Clinton often did, and my freinds and I were often amazed after the fact at his dodging and weaving. I only pray that’s the case now. There’s too much at stake.
    Oh let me be wrong about this. I beg.

  • J Stratford


    Looking at this map, and assuming that all “leaning” and “toss-up” states are up for grab, this Obama decision is a winner.

    First, it solidifies his vote on the coasts and in the great lakes. It also puts Colorado closer to Obama because the demographics in that state support gay marriage and civil unions. The anti-gay marriage states are already solidly in Romney’s camp, anyway.

    So let’s look at the “toss-up”, and “leaning” states

    If VA can be converted because of this move (and there is a good chance it can since it will energize the college campuses) then Obama doesn’t even have to worry about Michigan or Ohio.

    In contrast, Romney can not lose either Florida and Michigan to have a small chance at winning.

    So gays, lets pour our votes, money, time and influence into Colorado and Virginia. And if we have anything left to spare, put them into Ohio, Michigan or Florida!

    This election will determine how soon we will win the fight for our equal rights, so let’s go and win it!!!

  • jeff4justice

    LGBTs and progressives are so dumb for supporting the 2party system when the alternative party options are the ones who really stand for all the things they want.

  • BigDemDC

    Richard Socarides is a tool. Unbelievable that a magazine would look to him to provide an Op-Ed on LGBT politics or any aspect of politics for that matter. “Media Matters” caught on sooner than later!

  • jeff4justice

    It’s funny when LGBTs knock Log Cabin Republicans while backing partially supportive candidates thinking they are superior.

    LGBTIs who refuse to learn about alternative parties are stubborn as people who only want to get news from Fox News. Both refuse to take in new information to challenge their lazy acceptance of how things are.

    LGBTIs who refuse to leave the 2party system are as senselessly fearful and on the wrong side of history as the gays who rejected Gavin Newsome when he instigated marriage equality and then later rejected Ted Olson & David Boise Prop 8 law suit.

    There is nothing evolved about Obama and the 2party system. They have acclimated lazy people into accepting a country where 15 trillion in debt and half of the country in poverty while our government fights needless wars is acceptable. That’s radical! Comparatively, there is nothing radical about voting for an alternative party. It’s life-saving.

  • UsualPlayers

    (1) I think part of the problem here is that many of you are simple minded so this is likely to be over your head

    (2) what he’s saying is he’s happy that obama changed his views, but he doing a post mortem of how that occured, which is what adults do when they are trying to figure out what to do next.

    (3) The lesson, if you haven’t figured out, is not that we want to throw Obama away to replace him with a Republican. ITs that we can use Obama to get what we want if we put enough pressure on him. That again is what the adult figures out versus the child chanting blind support.

    I am glad Obama did what he did. It took courage. But it was in part courage that grew out of a history of having to place pressure on him. Saying that does not take away from either the history or Obama. Presidents are always like this. They are politicians afterall. So, the idea that we can’t discuss this like adults and discuss the realities of what got us here and asked what that means for the future- well go back to grade school.

  • Dave

    I think that Obama pretending to endorse same sex marriage is going to cost him the election.

    Obama really didn’t do anything!! He said: “I like gays. Gays should be able to marry, but I won’t be proposing any federal legislation – that’s up to the States” And he is a HERO!
    Ron Paul says: “I don’t understand it, but if 2 men want to get married, it should be up to the States, not the federal government.” and he is ignored. We really are just sheeple.

  • Barefoot Accountant

    I have become very disenchanted with President Barack Obama even though I voted for him in 2008.

    1. He did not even propose the public option healthcare system: he had campaigned on that system, promising to propose it. (Wikipedia: ”President Barack Obama promoted the idea of the public option while running for election.[3] After becoming President, Obama downplayed the need for a public health insurance option including calling it a “sliver” of health care reform,[4] but had not given up pursuing the idea before the health care reform was passed.[5] The preceding statement is disputed by evidence that the Obama administration had agreed to drop the public option from the final plan in the summer of 2009[6] in a back room deal with representatives of the for-profit hospital lobby[7]“)

    2. He has appointed countless Wall Streeters to his top economic team, failing to appoint labor voices like Robert Reich.

    3. He has bailed out Wall Street instead of Main Street: remember TARP? And then the banks dispensed $6 billion in bonuses in that year to its executives.

    4. He failed to attack the mortgage crisis, leaving an elephant still in our “room”, with one-third of home mortgages now underwater.

    5. He failed to veto the National Defense Authorization Act, doing away with habeous corpus, allowing the government to arrest and detain indefinitely without a trial or hearing.

    6. He agreed to an extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, and on top of that, he agreed to an egregious reduction of the estate taxes on the rich, exempting as much as $10 million from any estate taxes and lowering the estate tax rate down to a ridiculous rate of 35%, when our country has a $15 trillion debt. That alone saved the Walton heirs $17 billion in taxes.

    7. He has failed to indict and imprison any of those banksters involved in all of that fraud on Wall Street from the subprime mortgage, including robo-signing, and selling shit-backed mortgage securities known to be worthless.

    8. He appointed Jeffrey Immelt to head his Jobs Council when GE has been saying “China, China, China,” and shipping all jobs overseas while closing plants here in the US.

    9. President Obama is now considering and proposing to lower the corporate tax rate to 26%, when corporations are not only at a low-time rate of paying taxes but getting billions in tax subsidies from our government and opening up offices on the 19th floor of one building on the Cayman Islands to avoid taxes altogether.

    10. President Obama spoke in favor of PIPA and SOPA, when the internet is the last vestige of free speech and the availability of free information to the general public.

    11. There were no indictments by President Obama of all the contractor fraud reported on by Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul in a Congressional Report released over a year ago. Whenever the rich and big corporations are caught in fraud, Eric Holder adopts a policy of “looking forward”, instead of holding them accountable.

    12. President Obama agreed to the “grand bargain” (thank, God, Boehner did not accept it) to cut over $2 trillion in spending, including social security, medicare, medicaid, and other social safety-net programs merely in return for hypothetical “revenue increases” of $800 billion relying on “dynamic scoring”.

    13. President Obama has done nothing to level the trade treaties, where corporations are shipping labor to Cambodia (22.5 cents per hour), China, Philippines, etc., where labor is paid 25 cents per hour. This is exporting slavery to other countries. Where is the level playing field for Americans?

    14. President Obama in 2009 only proposed $140 billion in infrastructure spending when Paul Krugman and other economists predicted that $1.5 trillion was needed for our economy to recover. And last year only proposed a paltry $108 billion in infrastructure spending.

    15. President Obama praised the recent JOBS Act, which allows corporations to go public and raise capital without audited financial information in their public presentations for the first five years, allowing them to present fictitious numbers and defraud investors?

    16. President Obama has failed to propose the return of Glass-Steagall, separating commercial and investment banking, which will soon plunge us back into another mega-bailout of Wall Street.

    17. President Obama has failed to propose the break up of the big banks and corporations. What ever happened to the Sherman Anti-Trust Act?

    18. President Obama touted a $25 billion robo-signing settlement when a trillion dollars of our pension and retirement funds were stolen.

    19. While campaigning, President Obama promised to put on his walking shoes for labor, but failed to even show up in Wisconsin and walk the picket line against Governor Walker.

    20. President Obama has not declared war on the Supreme Court, as President Roosevelt did, to oppose the corporate/rich posture of Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts. Why not take them on?

    21. President Obama has arrested and raided more marijuana users in less than four years than George Bush did in eight years. Why is President Obama proposing cuts to social security, medicare, and medicaid while spending more on marijuana arrests and raids, especially when a majority of Americans are for legalization of pot and for the open sale of marijuana for medical use?

    Time and time again President Obama did not fight the good fight for working Americans, who are losing their jobs, health insurance, homes, dignity, etc.

    I am tired of the lame excuse of how we must vote for Obama because of the Supreme Court. How can anyone believe that Obama would not disappoint progressives on that issue after he failed to undertake a recess appointment of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a position to which she was more entitled to direct than any other American?

    I am done with President Obama.

  • Belize

    @Barefoot Accountant: You’re already done after 21? For the Romney list, I heard it already went up to 678 and counting. Isn’t it funny that no matter how many things you list up there, Obama is still the lesser of two evils. :)

  • Belize

    @Barefoot Accountant: I used to “parrot” like you. But then I graduated high school, went to college and got a real job. :)

  • Belize

    @QJ201: “This is why our “community” sucks. I doubt that black american’s attacked politicians who “came around” to support civil rights in the 50?s and 60?s.”

    That’s because “coming around” for the civil rights movement in the 50’s and the 60’s was NOT a bad political move. It did not endanger those politicians of losing their seats to people like Romney who, next to Obama, is by far the worse “evil.”

    You want to know why our community sucks?

    1. Because there are a lot of short sighted queens who easily get pleased whenever they are thrown an insubstantial bone at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    2. There are a lot of hypocritical queens who think that just because they are gay, they should be more “equal” than straight people. Get off your high horse.

    3. If I may quote @jeff4justice: “LGBTIs who refuse to learn about alternative parties are stubborn as people who only want to get news from Fox News. Both refuse to take in new information to challenge their lazy acceptance of how things are.”

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