Axelrod: Obama Faked Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage

David Axelrod, who ran both of Obama’s presidential campaigns, has confirmed what I said all along, that President Obama faked his opposition to same-sex marriage during the 2008 election because it was politically inconvenient for him to do so when the polls still showed that support to be a minority position.

David Axelrod, who served as a top White House adviser after helping Obama get elected, said Obama begrudgingly followed his advice that he would face strong opposition from African American religious leaders and others if he let it be known he supported gay marriage. He said Obama “modified his position” to say he supported civil unions — but not same-sex marriage.

“Having prided himself on forthrightness, though, Obama never felt comfortable with his compromise and, no doubt, compromised position,” Axelrod wrote in the memoir “Believer: My Forty Years in Politics,” released Tuesday.

Axelrod’s disclosure affirmed what was widely suspected for years: that Obama’s May 2012 announcement that he supported gay marriage came long after the president had personally come to that conclusion. The year earlier, Obama and the White House had started saying his position was “evolving,” leading many to believe he was holding off on a public embrace of gay marriage for fear it could damage his re-election prospects.

“If Obama’s views were ‘evolving’ publicly, they were fully evolved behind closed doors,” Axelrod wrote.

This was quite obviously the case and it always amused me that anyone actually believed him when he said his views were “evolving.” Nonsense, his views were the same as they were when he supported marriage equality while running for the Illinois Senate more than a decade ago. What was evolving was public opinion.

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  • theschwa

    I KNEW it! This PROVES he also lied about Benghazi! BENGHAZI!!!!1111

    Also, socialism.

  • Gregory in Seattle

    He took a position — repeatedly, loudly and with great vigor — that hurt a great many people. That he was lying about that position makes the damage he did worse, not better.

  • colnago80

    So did his opponent, Hillary, someone else whose position has “evolved”.

  • Abdul Alhazred

    And if public opinion changes in the wrong direction he will “evolve” some more no doubt. Or the next Democrat in line will.

  • eric

    Politician makes political compromise, film at 11!

    He took a position — repeatedly, loudly and with great vigor — that hurt a great many people. That he was lying about that position makes the damage he did worse, not better.

    Would you have preferred McCain/Palin 2012-2016? Palin being McCain’s heartbeat away from the Presidency?

    Yes it would’ve been great if Obama had stuck to his guns. I think we can also say with hindsight that coming out in favor of SSM would not have hurt him at the polls anywhere near as much as the pundits and probably the american public would have predicted; so in hindsight it was both the ethically right and politically right thing to do. But I don’t really blame him. If you had asked me in 2008 whether someone who fully supported SSM was electable, I would’ve said “no,” and I bet a very large majority of people from both left and right would’ve agreed with me. The sudden shift in public support for SSM is great, but it was sudden and was fairly unpredictable, and I don’t think we do ourselves any favors by declaiming that the people at the time should’ve predicted it would happen.

    But if we can’t blame him for his campaign position, I think there is something we can blame him for on this issue. Biden made his famous extemporaneous goof – if that’s what it was – supporting SSM in 2012 (a mere three years ago! How times change). Since we are pretty sure Obama supported SSM the entire time, I think its fair to criticize him for not sending up a “trial balloon” earlier. He could’ve planned a Biden goof in 2009 or 2010, for example. Not doing so shows (at least to me) that whatever his position was on SSM, he didn’t think it was worth hardly any political risk to pursue. He wouldn’t even throw Biden in front of that bus, which is saying something. :)

  • gshelley

    I fell off my chair in shock when I read this. like most people, I believed Obama had sincerely changed his mind from his earlier position in time to get elected and then sincerely changed his mind again once it became convenient

  • Trebuchet

    Politician lied! In other news, the sun rose in the east this morning.

  • Abdul Alhazred

    What gets me is the silly notion that Obama has a “real position” on anything. That’s the real deception.

  • marcus

    A politician made a political decision. Color me unsurprised.

    While I can’t help but agree with Gregory in Seattle @ 2, at the same time there is the realization that had he approached it differently we might not even be having this conversation…

  • doublereed

    He’s making this argument more as a defense of Obama, which is rather bizarre. If anything I think this makes Obama lack principles.

  • Childermass

    Well duh.

    No one is going to be elected president of the United States if they are not willing to take a position that they don’t really like. If someone is utterly against doing this, then they should be an activist and not a politician. Then again, maybe not because pretty much every human being says white lies to smooth things over especially when telling the truth is unlikely to do any good.

    Of course people who rant that Mr. Obama lied have never, ever told someone something they wanted to hear that was not exactly true.

  • Jared James

    Marcus@9 nailed it. A politician who expects to actually win lies a dozen times a day, and repeats those lies until they become inconvenient, then tells new lies until they aren’t right for the moment either.

    One with principles is bothered by the necessity, not hampered by it.

  • matty1

    @2 Genuine question, to what extent can the presidents views on this hurt or help people? He isn’t responsible for court decisions or legislation so couldn’t have altered the legal situation. Do you think his example alone would have made that much difference?

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Obama: I Wasn’t ‘Bullshitting’ My Position On Gay Marriage:

    “I think the notion that somehow I was always in favor of [gay] marriage per se isn’t quite accurate,” the President said.

    He explained that he had always seen civil unions as a “sufficient way of squaring the circle” between religious sensitivities and gay couples’ rights. Obama said he then came to fully support gay marriage once he understood “the pain and the sense of stigma” that his friends who were gay felt about civil unions.

    You say “noo-onse”, I say “fud-jing”…

  • cptdoom

    As a gay man I was willing to support Obama in 2008 even though he supported a “separate but equal” civil unions compromise. We all knew the political reality, even as the Prop 8 defenders used his position to claim he agreed with them. I was also one of those gays who were disappointed in Obama’s handling of all LGBT issues in his first two years as President, not just on marriage. Obama had painted himself into a corner with his capitulation to the civil union compromise, because how could he argue for equality in jobs or housing while simultaneously arguing for second-class status in marriage and family law?

    I also believe more than public opinion moved him to a pro-equality position in 2012. There was a significant drop in LGBT dollars in the 2010 mid-terms and early in the 2012 campaign. “The gaytm is closed” was the expression. Even though it may have cost him North Carolina, Obama couldn’t afford the drop in LGBT support.

  • abb3w

    I was willing to consider the notion that he was lagging because of actual religious tendencies. Apparently, that wasn’t the case. I am shocked, shocked I say, that it was instead a politician pandering.

  • lorn

    A politician differentiates between his personal preference, his official policy, and his reaction to a question while running for election.

    I’m shocked, shocked I tell you.

  • A Masked Avenger

    …and if it were politically expedient to enforce sodomy laws, he would have enforced them with vigor. But at least he isn’t McCain! Amiright? Of course I am!

    Meanwhile, Obama continues to murder brownish foreigners at an even more prodigious rate than Bush. Including, recently, thirteen-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman of Yemen, who months before gave an interview in which he recounted that the children of his village have nightmares about Obama’s “death machines in the sky.”

    But at least he’s good on gay marriage! Now that it’s politically expedient that is. Anyway, at least he’s not McCain!

    Fucking hell.

  • Michael Heath

    theschwa writes:

    I KNEW it! This PROVES he also lied about Benghazi! BENGHAZI!!!!1111

    Also, socialism.

    I don’t think this lie by President Obama will help move the ball much for conservatives. They’ve already branded him a liar and make up lots of lies when convenient.

    Instead my first reaction when I read this the other day was that some atheists would amplify their argument this particular lie by Obama adds credibility to their claim that President Obama is not really a theist; that he only plays one out of political necessity.

  • Artor

    Childermass @11

    I don’t have a problem with people pointing out that Obama has lied. It’s true, he has. But not about the things the wingnuts are screaming about. That’s the funny thing to me; there’s plenty of things to be legitimately pissed about the Obama Administration, but the unhinged nutjobs have to make shit up? I wish they would shut up about Benghazi and FEMA camps, and join the sane, rational people who actually want to see a better USA.

  • StevoR

    @ ^ Artor : Seconded – except I’d extend the end to cover a whole better world not just the US of A.

    @19. Michael Heath : Agreed too. I also suspect Obama may well be a closest atheist or at least agnostic. Then again at this stage he might as well come out and admit it given he doesn’t need re-electing anymore although I guess the democratic arty still do. Maybe once he’s officially stepped down and retired from all politics?

    @7. Trebuchet : “In other news, the sun rose in the east this morning.”

    Not on Venus it didn’t! 😉

    On Earth and most of the other planets (not so sure about Ouranos and Pluto) it did though, yeah.


    Obama’s hiding his real position to get votes, not surprised but also not happy and wish he hadn’t done that.

    Also wonder how many other US politicians are now and have in the past done the exact same pretence – and even worse? Plus how many are still pretending to their voters even perhaps themselves?

  • Zeno

    Representative Pete Stark of California was known for openly declaring he espoused no religion. I’m all but certain that several current members of Congress have no particular religious convictions but find it inconvenient (or impolitic) to come right out and say so. Hence we have nominal Christians and nominal Jews in high office who are actually agnostics or atheists who fill in the “religion” box on their official biographies with the label for some mainstream belief system that they don’t actually believe. I suspect Obama’s Christianity is of that unconvicted kind.

  • Anri

    A Masked Avenger says @ 18:

    But at least he’s good on gay marriage! Now that it’s politically expedient that is. Anyway, at least he’s not McCain!

    Ok, just so we’re all clear, you would have preferred McCain?

    Or did you have a different Presidential front-runner in mind? Who would that have been, if I may ask?

  • busterggi

    Faked it? Obama is no Meg Ryan.

  • Dr X

    That pols do this is a given, but it’s still disconcerting. I was never really sure that Reagan or Bush Daddy really wanted to outlaw abortion, and I flat out don’t believe Mitt Romney personally opposes abortion, but all oppposed abortion publicly as presidential aspirants. In my state, Illinois, the Reublican Senator and the last three Republican governors supported choice, but I wonder if they’d have continued to support it had they made presidential runs. Doubt it.

  • colnago80

    Re Dr. X @ #25

    It is my information that when Rmoney ran for the Senate against Edward Kennedy, he he claimed that the latter was insufficiently pro-choice as compared to himself.