The Media and Barack Obama's Pauline Kael Moment on Gay Marriage

If you listen to Barack Obama’s statement to ABC News yesterday you’ll hear something not reflected in all the transcripts that went out yesterday. He said his administration gave up the legal fight to defend the Defense Against Marriage Act. It’s actually the Defense Of Marriage Act.Obama claimed DOMA made marriage a federal issue and it should be a state issue. That’s a gross mischaracterization of DOMA, but for now that’s besides the point. Two days after major gay donors said they’d withhold funding from his campaign and one day before his swank $40,000.00 a person fundraiser with George Clooney, Barack Obama publicly reversed course on gay marriage. The Washington Free Beacon’s headline says it all: Gay For Pay.Obama looks weak and under duress. He looks weak because he would not come out before the North Carolina vote and under duress because he only did so now as his donors held his campaign hostage. Now President Obama might as well be called President Dick Cheney. In addition to GTMO still in use and warrantless wiretaps still being deployed, Obama comes out in favor of the states’ individually deciding the issue while supporting it himself. It’s the gay marriage equivalent of being personally pro-life, but supporting a person’s right to choose. It is also, like GTMO and warrentless wiretaps, Dick Cheney’s position — a position the much maligned former Vice President held even after Obama went from being for gay marriage, to against gay marriage, to evolving on gay marriage.But there is another angle to this as well.Barack Obama and the Washington Press Corps, aligned perfectly on this issue, are oblivious to one overwhelming data point.

Consider National Journal’s Hotline from the other day:

Pro-marriage activists have considerable leverage at the moment: About 1 in 6 Obama donors are gay, according to a Washington Post estimate. We’ve said it before: Obama will be the last Dem nominee to be publicly against same-sex marriage. No future candidate will be able to afford to oppose it.

I had to read that a couple of times to understand that pro-marriage means pro-gay marriage. I consider myself pro-marriage, which is why I don’t want its several thousand year old definition changed to accommodate people who do not qualify for it.But beyond that, it is telling that National Journal would characterize one side as “pro-marriage” and it happens to be the side wanting to change marriage as we know it.The media fundamentally is ignoring what is staring them in the face as are the Democrats.What’s staring them in the face? Well, consider the always excellent Ron Brownstein in National Journal:

In the Pew survey, half of college-educated white men, a resounding 65 percent of college-educated white women and 68 percent of whites under 30 backed the idea. (In 2001, just 52 percent of younger whites backed gay marriage.) African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities are much more closely divided on gay marriage, with the Pew survey finding just 40 percent of non-white men backing the idea. But it attracts support from 54 percent of minority women and retains plurality support among minorities overall.(That itself represents a major increase from as recently as 2007 when only about one-third of minorities backed gay marriage in Pew polling.)

According to pretty much every poll, everybody supports gay marriage. Nobody wants to be labeled a bigot. But while liberals keep referring to history on the move and the ever growing consensus for gay marriage, they ignore that 32 states have put gay marriage to a vote and it has failed all 32 times.It is one thing for voters to tell pollsters they support gay marriage. It is quite another thing to actually get it passed at the real polls. Perhaps pollsters should stop asking people if they support gay marriage and instead ask people if they think their neighbors would support gay marriage.For all the data that political scientists, Democratic strategist, and even a growing number of Republican strategists look at, the data they miss is that gay marriage does not actually win when put to the voters.The media chooses to ignore this because, like Pauline Kael being shocked by Nixon’s re-election, they know no one who opposes gay marriage. In fact, the Gang of 500, mostly creatures of the Northeast, live in the only area of the country to embrace gay marriage. The Northeast, on cultural issues, is increasingly detached from the rest of the country — even California.Just last month, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Obamacare case. Conservatives have, for three years, insisted Obamacare is unconstitutional. When Justice Anthony Kennedy spoke skeptically about the constitutionality of Obamacare, it was like a nuclear bomb had gone off in the legal pundit community the press relies on. Not one of them had, for even a minute, thought the concerns about Obamacare’s constitutionality were valid.And yet . . .The media really needs to get out of the DC/NYC Corridor more often.