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January 16, 2005

So Saith the President, So Saith... Not I

All we need to know lies in the mis-start at the beginning of the President's response:

The Post: Do you plan to expend any political capital to aggressively lobby senators for a gay marriage amendment?

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I think that the situation in the last session -- well, first of all, I do believe it's necessary; many in the Senate didn't, because they believe DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act] will -- is in place, but -- they know DOMA is in place, and they're waiting to see whether or not DOMA will withstand a constitutional challenge.

Well, I sincerely hope he's keeping in mind the amount of capital — of any kind — social conservatives will expend on furthering his agenda if he abandons us. Yeah, yeah, we've got nowhere else to go, and we can keep advocating for the FMA because we think it's the right thing to do, regardless. If, however, the big story of the next four years is the strength or weakness of the intra-Republican bond, this won't help.

But we should keep in mind that the political landscape is volatile, right now, and we're better off with a President who is tepidly protective of traditional marriage than one who is implicitly unconcerned with redefinition of it. Furthermore, we should keep in mind that the President has to take a broader view of the issues. For instance, installing judges who will refrain from writing elite social preferences into the Constitution will require quite a bit of political capital, and the President is more directly involved in that process; the other two branches of government are the important ones on the marriage front.

Therefore, unless I'm being unreasonably sunny, Andrew Sullivan's happiness with the President is good news. For one thing, I'd wager that we'll see less of this sort of negative hysteria from him. More generally — and acknowledging that political posturing is no doubt part of Bush's calculus — it seems obvious that a President who is potentially in a position to reshape the Supreme Court would not want simultaneously to be the most visible representative of a cause that a not-insignificant, vocal, and influential portion of the citizenry decries as tantamount to theocracy.

Posted by Justin Katz at January 16, 2005 8:14 PM
Marriage & Family
Comments

We should keep in mind that the President of the U.S. has little to do with Constitutional amendments. Bush must figure that he has larger fish to fry. He probably figures, perhaps mistakenly, that since he's been reelected he can appoint judges who will stick to the Constitution. He may also figure that the results of the various referenda will discourage judges.

Posted by: LesLein at January 16, 2005 9:23 PM

The revealing part is Sullivan saying that DOMA shouldn't be challenged for the "foreseeable future." It's an implicit concession that his argument that DOMA makes a Constitutional amendment unnecessary is a stalling tactic.

I don't think that Sullivan ever responded to Justin Katz's article in National Review.

Posted by: LesLein at January 16, 2005 9:27 PM

LesLein,

I mentioned the President's limited role in the subsequent post. (Maybe he's saving his "political capital" for appointments to the Supreme Court?)

Incidentally, I think Sullivan may be waiting until I've posted my NR piece on the blog (which I mentioned to him that I intend to do when the next issue of the magazine comes out).

Posted by: Justin Katz at January 16, 2005 9:44 PM

Justin,

May I begin by saying "thank you" for this blog (and Anchor Rising) and for that terrific piece in National Review.

Between you and Stanley Kurtz, I believe that you two are the folks Sullivan fears (or, respects) the most, because you connect all of his zig-zags, dot by dot, to an unworkable morality that he wishes to impose on everyone else who doesn't agree with him (the vast majority of Americans, as it happens).

Anyway, just "thank you" for this blog. Nothing Sullivan can write can skew what you wrote in National Review (nor, what Kurtz has written previously).

History will not look kindly on Mr. Sullivan's anti-moral stances, nor his evasive libertinism. Much of that cold judgment will be because of that piece, and this blog.

Thanks again.

Posted by: Aaron at January 16, 2005 11:22 PM

"We should keep in mind that the President of the U.S. has little to do with Constitutional amendments."

This is true in a technical sense, but not in a political sense. The owner of the biggest bully pulpit in the world has a great deal of influence over whether a Constitutional amendment gains sufficient momentum or not.

Posted by: Mike S. at January 17, 2005 2:54 PM