“Confession is good for the soul,” said Mark Twain, “but it’s bad for the reputation.” Candidate Barack Obama in 2008 confessed to his top adviser, David Axelrod, “I’m just not very good at (expletive).” Actually, he was very good at it. He told millions of Americans that he believed marriage was “a sacred union” between a man and a woman. He answered about marriage in Rick Warren’s question famed Civic Forum, going even further to say that “God is in the mix.” Four years later, he claimed he had evolved. We’ve all seen those Darwin fish with feet bumper devices. Evolutionary biologists assure us that it took eons for those finny friends to develop into land roving quadrupeds. Not so, liberal politicians. They can shed old convictions and promises quicker than fishes can shed their scales. Time magazine provides this enlightening comment on David Axelrod’s new memoir, Believer:
“Axelrod writes that he knew Obama was in favor of same-sex marriages during the first presidential campaign, even Obama publicly said he only supported civil unions, not full marriages. Axelrod also admits to counseling Obama to conceal that position for political reasons. ‘Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a “sacred union.”‘
The insider’s account provides the clearest look yet at Obama’s long-established flip-flop, one of the blemishes on his record as a progressive. The admission of Obama’s embrace of deception also calls into question the President’s stated embrace of a new kind of politics in 2008, when he promised to be unlike other politicians who change their views to match the political winds. “Having prided himself on forthrightness, though, Obama never felt comfortable with his compromise and, no doubt, compromised position,” Axelrod writes. “He routinely stumbled over the question when it came up in debates or interviews.”
As a state senate candidate in 1996, Obama filled out a questionnaire saying “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” But 12 years later as a candidate for president, Obama told Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church that marriage could only extend to heterosexual couples. “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman,” Obama said at the time. “Now, for me as a Christian—for me—for me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God’s in the mix.”
Here is Time, even that unwavering champion of all things liberal, expressing more than a little chagrin at Axelrod’s revelation of that bit of campaign lying by Barack Obama in 2008. No wonder even liberals are expressing dismay with the Obama presidency. No wonder that Barbara Walters now moans: “We thought he was going to be the Messiah.” No wonder that Chris Matthews’ leg doesn’t tingle any more. No wonder even Barack Obama’s own coat carriers don’t call him “Black Jesus” any more.
To be fair, there was dissatisfaction among conservatives at this point in the Ronald Reagan presidency, too. Reagan also faced a Congress dominated by his political opponents in the last two years of his second term. Then, however, conservatives cried out: “Let Reagan be Reagan.” They knew, or thought they knew, what Reagan would do if he could overrule his circle of pragmatic advisers.
Overrule them he did. He went to West Berlin in 1987. [Yes, my young friends, there was a West and an East Berlin then. And you could be murdered if you tried to escape from the Workers’ Paradise in Communist East Berlin.] Reagan’s top advisers sent back to the White House the speech drafted by young Peter Robinson. Take out that line: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Three times, the State Department and the National Security staff tried to tear down that speech. Three times Ronald Reagan sent it back with the world-changing line still in the text.
And the president went to West Berlin and delivered that speech with that powerful line intact. No one had to “let Reagan be Reagan.” Reagan was Reagan. Today, no one says: “Let Obama be Obama.” That because no one knows—even his closest advisers don’t know—what might result. But this much is clear: When he says, “God is in the mix,” everything is in the mix. Like some vast primordial stew. More