A cynical Beltway pundit class, including conservatives, have already joined to announce that Obama’s flip-flop on gay marriage is a non-factor in the election campaign, at least so long as the economy and jobs remain front burner issues.
This thinking is mainly based on Romney’s inability to nail Obama as a flip-flopper since he’s bounced around a little himself. Politically this is probably sound, but as I said, it is also cynical.
But Romney’s sin of the flip-flop is not necessarily (in fact, I’d bet on) the same caliber as Obama’s, just as Obama’s flip-flop is certainly unlike Bush I’s “read my lips” change of heart.
There is a big difference in changing one’s mind and changing one’s moral positions. On the latter point, one would normally have a whole lot more explaining to do. Or should.
Bush I changed his mind based on what he thought was sound fiscal principles (and some weakness at the bargaining table with Democrats) which caused him to renege on an earlier promise. In essence he had written a check with his mouth in 1988 his butt couldn’t cash in 1991, and therefore was branded a liar.
But in truth Bush’s actions did not breach the bar of moral culpability. He was something less than a liar. Still this flip-flop helped seal his defeat in 1992.
On the other hand, abortion and same sex marriage both deal with deep, and ancient, moral principles, about which one cannot so easily reverse direction.
This is not to say such turnarounds are forbidden, or cannot be righteously explained. I would wager than probably 60% or more of modern pro-lifers at one time approved of abortion, if not somewhat indifferently. Especially when young. Especially when randy. Especially if in college.
“He little knew that they were demons, for they wore the best of clothes
But clothes do not always make the gentle man.” (That Fatal Glass of Beer”)
Most college kids will likely dally with every ‘ism that comes down the pike during that walk through the valley of the shadow of death called their teens and twenties. So, the priest could have talked until he was blue in the face about the sanctity of life to those 17 year-olds and it would never have sunk in.
Still, there is purpose to what he does, for once on the other side (of 30) they are very apt to return to those moral lessons they learned from Fr O’Doul, Rev Jones or at mother’s knee….if they were lucky enough to have any of them.
At 30, the fog on a lot of things is lifted from our eyes.
So Mitt Romney’s flip-flop of the soul was not that extraordinary at all.
But the “moral position” held cynically, for political gain, always exposes the man in a different way…not for having taken the wrong moral course, but for having no moral course at all.
You see, pro-life is a moral position, while pro-choice is not. It is exclusively political.
This is Romney’s problem with going after Obama, for people have the right to believe that his reversal on abortion in 2005 was not based on a return to the teachings of his church but simply a political calculation, inasmuch as his pro-choice stance was entirely political.
This is why Obama feels he can play loose with his own “moral” announcements. He assumes he is beyond attack from the Romney camp, and knows he is immune from an inquiring and critical-thinking media…even as his sins are, quite frankly, manifestly darker and more outrageous than Romney’s, and potentially far more explosive to his plans.
For you see, while Romney can even now do a more meaningful mea culpa on his going against the teachings of his church for political reasons… Obama cannot.
That’s because Obama has bracketed both his anti- and pro-gay marriage stance in moral terms. Unable (for several reasons, including vanity), to say he was wrong in his former opinion, he cannot explain either position morally, without also having to explain how he has been able to overrule the Lawgiver.
Obama has once again assumed a position above his pay grade by cherry-picking Scriptures to say that his reading of Golden Rule today trumps his previous Christian understandings and which have held sway for two thousand years.
Obama, a professing Christian, cannot reach back into Scriptures and explain just what passages he has moved toward (the Golden Rule), without saying just what passages in those same Scriptures he now disapproves of and has taken it upon himself to discard.
And to do that he must (as a Christian), ascribe that to a authority larger then himself…which he cannot.
In ordinary human speak, this makes Obama out to be a mountebank, a swindler, and worst of all, an ordinary lying politician, who will say anything to anyone about anything for a buck.
Now I believe that Obama never had a moral position on gay marriage, either for it or against it. Inasmuch as the catch-phrase of the Progressives since the 60s, has been that all human conduct is subject to the political process, both his anti- and pro- gay marriage positions were almost definitely political (and cynical) in nature.
I see a bold opportunity here for Mitt Romney, which he could pull off, only his staff would never allow it. But I also see a big opportunity for religious journals, print and web, to be very direct in launching a campaign against Obama’s about-face, only…
….avoid the political and make this a moral issue.
Obama has once again assumed a position above his pay grade.