Axelrod book: Obama misled public about gay marriage stance in 2008

Barack Obama

It seems the president didn’t evolve on gay marriage so much as the truth about his beliefs did. From Time:

“Barack Obama misled Americans for his own political benefit when he claimed in the 2008 election to oppose same sex marriage for religious reasons, his former political strategist David Axelrod writes in a new book, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics.

“‘I’m just not very good at bull—–ing,’ Obama told Axelrod, after an event where he stated his opposition to same-sex marriage, according to the book.

“Axelrod writes that he knew Obama was in favor of same-sex marriages during the first presidential campaign, even as 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,” ‘ Axelrod writes.”

I’m confused: If Obama isn’t “very good at bull—–ing,” why does he “believe (his) own bull—-“? And does this mean Obama wasn’t right when he said kids are good at being able to tell who’s a bull—–er?

Aside from wondering who could be surprised at this point to learn Obama would have told such a lie, and pondering the paradox of such untruths being unveiled in a book titled “Believer,” one considers how much the course of debate over this issue changed because of this lie.

Observers have marveled at the speed with which gay marriage has gained social acceptance in a country where, just a decade ago, majorities of voters in numerous states approved bans of same-sex marriages. Indeed, much of the momentum can be attributed to the moment in 2012 when Obama came out as a supporter of gay marriages instead of just civil unions. For a time afterward, it seemed as if a Democrat per day — and the occasional Republican — suddenly experienced a similar “evolution” as the president had. It became not only an unquestioned staple of Democratic politics to support gay marriage, but it quickly also became an article of left-wing faith that only “hate” and “bigotry” could explain those who continued to believe the same thing Obama believed a matter of months earlier.

Or, as we now know, falsely claimed to have believed.

What might have happened had Obama told the truth in 2008? Perhaps the same sort of cascade would have taken place earlier, and gay marriage would have become ascendant sooner or more firmly. Or perhaps it would have cost him some of his support among the key Democratic constituency Axelrod mentioned, the black church, and either Hillary Clinton or John McCain would have been president. (The former seems more likely than the latter.) That might have set back the cause — or maybe it would have sparked a different kind of debate, for better or worse. I tend to think it would have been a better one, without judging what the results might have been, because honesty and transparency in these matters makes for more genuine discussion and more broadly accepted outcomes.

One thing, though, seems very clear: Obama’s conscious decision to mislead Americans was far from an inconsequential moment in either his campaign or the nation’s history.

As a side note, it’s also stunning how many members of Obama’s team continue to be willing to reveal a sitting president’s faults in order to cash in on their connections to him. These kinds of things usually come to light eventually, but normally not until after the president in question has left office. I’m not sure what that necessarily means — a particular lack of loyalty toward this president, a cynical judgment the public simply doesn’t care, a simple reflection of the greater speed and immediacy of everything in modern life — but I don’t think it is good for a leader who must still try to work with and persuade allies and opponents, domestic and foreign, for two more years.

Reader Comments 0

118 comments
GB101
GB101

When Miss America (I think that is who it was) spoke on the subject of gay marriage and expressed the same views as the presidential candidate Obama, the left was outraged.  She was telling the truth about her beliefs; Obama was lying about his.  And everyone knew he was lying.  Therefore no outrage regarding Obama.

MarkVV
MarkVV

Kyle: “If some of the examples seem absurd now, keep in mind there was a time that was also the conventional wisdom about gay marriage.”


In terms of silliness, this argument can hardly be surpassed. It could be used to oppose virtually any social change. (The closest example: Interracial marriage)

ssinf
ssinf

Slow news day, huh?

Tiberius-Constitutionus
Tiberius-Constitutionus

I suspected he did.  And it's completely understandable.  Question to be asked is: do the ends justify the means?  Inasmuch as we are about to see the end of pernicious, unconstitutional treatment of gay people, the answer is an unqualified "yes."


The Obamanator scores another victory for the people of these United States of America.

EdUktr
EdUktr

The mainstream liberal media makes such deceits possible through its biased, pro-Democrat coverage.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

But if marriage can be redefined from the time-tested arrangement of one man and one woman, there is no legal limiting principle to prevent future redefinitions.

I always preferred the civil unions approach.

While josef argued for marriage, I brought to his attention the possibility of unintended consequences. GLs don't stand alone. They've invited Bs and Ts into their LGBT acronym.  

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Based on Obama's lie(s), African Americans were duped and the gay community was left in limbo.

Obama has the gift of gab and little else.

He's a fraud fraught with perils for America and her people.  

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Obama and Axelrod simply cannot be trusted. Focus on what they do, and follow the money.





Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

"As a side note, it’s also stunning how many members of Obama’s team continue to be willing to reveal a sitting president’s faults in order to cash in on their connections to him. These kinds of things usually come to light eventually, but normally not until after the president in question has left office."


How easily we forget the Bush years?  I think with Bush 2 we had people coming out after he said "I...solemnly swear.."  And that was the first time he was sworn in!


Then we had the first set of gray-haired guys coming out, one from economics and one from cia, I think. And it just went on and on and on.


Kyle?

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

I missed something earlier, HW Bush and "read my lips" is how clinton got elected and GW Bush not showing the Iraq WMD to the AmeRican public is how obozo got elected. Why would we ever want to elect JW Bush?

MANGLER
MANGLER

This is reaching for something to complain about.

Let's compare some presidential mis-truths told to the American public shall we:

"Read my lips, No new taxes"

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman"

"Iraq has WMD's"

"I'm not for same sex marriage"

OK ... let's start weighing how many people are hurt and killed by those lies.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

How dare Axelrod claim the President mislead anybody, how would he know, he is trying to make us think he was there when he really is just trying to hold the Black man down, just another Chicago racist.  

straker
straker

Most Republican politicians don't hide their intense dislike for Obama.


However, I'm persuaded that many Democratic pols feel the same way.


At first, I thought this was just racism, and among a few it probably is. But I now think they just don't like HIM personally because he just does not come across as being that charismatic. 


I have a feeling its not just  Republican politicians who can't wait to see him go. 

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

During the May 11 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly returned to his theory that the legalization of gay marriage could lead to the eventual legalization of interspecies marriages, this time stating to Fox News analyst Margaret Hoover, who argued against O'Reilly's theories, "[Y]ou would let everybody get married who want to get married. You want to marry a turtle, you can." O'Reilly has previously suggested that gay marriage could ultimately allow for a person to marry "a goat," "a duck," and "a dolphin."


During the May 11 segment, O'Reilly also again claimed gay marriage would lead to polygamous marriage, saying, "[I]f you OK gay marriage, then you have to do plural marriage, which is now -- has a name, triads. Three people getting married."


Kyle is peddling the same nonsense here.


http://mediamatters.org/research/2009/05/12/oreillys-ark-gay-marriage-could-lead-to-goat-du/150069

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar Oh, and c) I've asked Headley for some legal limiting principle to prevent such things, and all he can conjure are his own biases.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar I would point out that a) I specifically did not include animals, and b) history is not ending anytime soon. If some of the examples seem absurd now, keep in mind there was a time that was also the conventional wisdom about gay marriage.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

The same people who told us that Obozo was lying about Obozocare also told us Obozo was lying about his faux support for traditional marriage.

Those people are called Republicans.

The people who believed the nonsense are the folks Gruber was talking about--stupid voters.

Tiberius-Constitutionus
Tiberius-Constitutionus

@LilBarryBailout

Kyle,


I thought your new moderation policy was intended to, among other things, tamp down on infantile insults (see, e.g., "Obozo" and "Obozocare."  


If so, the good LilBarry is violating your policy (which, I feel compelled to add, is a good one and has contributed to a significant elevation in the level of discourse on your blog (unlike across the hall, which is a veritable hotbed of "I can be a more childish child than you, by far"). 

DontTread
DontTread

Did we really expect anything different from President Coverup?


His whole term in office has been nothing but one lie after the other.


I'll bet he was also lying when he said things like "I support the right to keep and bear arms" and "if you like your health insurance, you can keep it".

MarkVV
MarkVV

@DontTread 


Your post is nothing but one insult after another. Easy for anyone to do.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Obama lied?  Not news.


Obama told the unvarnished, non parsed truth.  Now, that would be welcome news.


"If you like gay marriage illegal, you can keep gay marriage illegal". 

MarkVV
MarkVV

@RafeHollister 

Kyle or RafeHollister accusing President Obama without evidence? Not news. 

DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

@Kyle_Wingfield @DebbieDoRight --  

"If that were true, we wouldn't have been debating whether gay marriage is legal these past 40 years, would we?"

Roe v. Wade ring a bell?

"The legal standard for marriage was one man and one woman. Denying a white man the ability to marry a black woman was a denial of that legal standard"

Legal standards change with time.  The legal standard of a black person at one time was the "3/5th" rule.  The legal standard for voting was "Males only".  The Legal standard for women (until the Married Women's Property Act of 1870), was that they could not own property.  

Things change, legal standards change. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@DebbieDoRight "Roe v. Wade ring a bell?"

That's a debate over whether abortion should be illegal. No one disputes that it is currently legal.

"Legal standards change with time."

That's true, but your previous argument was that the current legal standard suffices, because 14th amendment.

DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

@Kyle_Wingfield @DebbieDoRight -- My stance was AGAINST the separate but Equal "civil Unions" that you brought up because S.B.E was shot down by the SC because it violated the the 14th Amd.  

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@DebbieDoRight Sigh. You said civil unions would be considered separate but equal and cited, among other things, Loving v. Virginia. I pointed out I disagree because, while the standard for what marriage is applied to interracial couples, it does not apply to same-sex couples. I said that would require changing that standard of what marriage is. You seemed to be arguing it doesn't because 14th amendment, and I pointed out that's not necessarily true (although SCOTUS may go for that argument anyway) because no one was being denied marriage as it is currently defined. And thus there's no "separate but equal" claim here.

Is that not a correct summary?

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

marriage can be redefined from the time-tested arrangement of one man and one woman"


In what sense is "time-tested" to apply? 

A marriage arranged by parents was also a time-tested arrangement and still happens in some cultures

A marriage where a husband basically owned the wife was also a time-tested arrangement and still happens in some cultures. 

A marriage where a man could marry multiple wives was also a time-tested arrangement and still happens in some cultures.


Can a foreigner move to the US freely and have all of his wives legally recognized? 

(I guess this will be posted later) hope to hear back regarding Uber!)

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@LogicalDude "In what sense is "time-tested" to apply?"

Are you disputing that one man-one woman is a time-tested arrangement in this culture? That's the culture we're discussing, after all. I certainly don't want to get into legislating for other cultures ...

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

I have to go to a House committee hearing about Uber, so it will be a while before any more comments are published.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

The hearing concerned an insurance bill, on which there is general agreement among all parties. (The biggest sticking point: What kind of coverage suffices for drivers with companies such as Uber or Lyft who are actively working but don't have a passenger in their car.) There are other bills of a more broad-regulation nature, but those will be considered separately by other committees.

In case anyone was wondering what happened at the hearing ...

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

Oh.  Gee. Obama actually supported gay marriage. 


How about you Kyle?  Did I miss you say you support gay marriage as well? 

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@Kyle_Wingfield @LogicalDude Thanks Kyle. I read.  Found you defend "civil unions" instead of "marriage". 


In fact, all marriages are already civil unions to be recognized by the state and country. Paperwork needs to be filed, marriage license obtained before marriage. 

I don't really see the need to differentiate between "civil union" and "marriage", since all marriages already have that "civil union" piece to it. 


Would it be okay to remove "marriage" from all contracts and make everything "civil unions" in the eyes of the government? 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar "Say what you want, but I will insist you are saying something else." Sorry, that's not "understanding."

CarolineJenkins
CarolineJenkins

Is anybody really surprised? That somebody would lie in order to be elected seems to be the norm now and that's sad.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@CarolineJenkins 

What is sad is when somebody is accused of lying without evidence that he/she actually had  lied.

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

 I predict it will happen when other groups agitate for changing the definition of marriage again: to allow polygamy, marriages between family members, marriages between minors and adults, etc.


My god. The insanity. 


April 14, 2005: "We told you this would happen, if gay marriage is legalized, then much chaos would follow.”

- Bill Orielly


Somehow the Republic has survived.

MHSmith
MHSmith

@HeadleyLamar 

The Republic probably will continue to survive but don't bet too much money on the once distinct standing the institution of marriage has held continuing to survive - in the eyes of many this change in  law has already diminished the meaning of what marriage has always meant. 

Anything can be made legal in this country.      

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar "My god. The insanity. "

Are you suggesting no other group will seek to be allowed to marry? Or that gay couples won't object?

Or are you, as I noted below, simply incapable of engaging on this subject?

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

@Kyle_Wingfield @HeadleyLamar  Are you suggesting no other group will seek to be allowed to marry?


No


But are you really relating a huge part of a population to an extreme minority of polygamist etc


Talk about bad analogies


I have a hard time believing gay couples will object to being treated equally. Newsflash some gay people are Religious as well. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar "But are you really relating a huge part of a population to an extreme minority of polygamist etc"

No, I explicitly was not likening the two. However, some number of years ago no one would have predicted the social acceptance of same-sex marriage. I didn't say this would happen anytime soon. I'm just saying that, if it does happen, it will be mighty hard for people who supported this change to explain why they object.

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

@Kyle_Wingfield Gay people make up about 4 to 5 percent of the population ( Thsoe numbers are hard to come by )


How many polygamists are there ?


Comparing the two is just plain stupid. 

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

@Kyle_Wingfield @HeadleyLamar Knew you were going there.


But honestly how many polygamist are there ? How many will want to marry incest a family member  ?


That doesn't even approach the threshold of a full 5 percent of the population having fewer rights etc. 



Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar So you knew I was going there, and you still don't have a different response? It's all about "how many people could possibly want that"? Sorry, but that doesn't meet the standard you've set here.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar I thought numbers shouldn't matter, and we aren't ruled by the "tyranny of the majority"?

And, one more time, I explicitly did not liken the two.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@HeadleyLamar Not that long ago, gay marriage would have been considered an "extreme example." But it's good to see so plainly your lack of a consistent principle here, other than "I like, I don't like." Which, come to think of it, is exactly the principle you disparage when it comes to those who don't support gay marriage.

HeadleyLamar
HeadleyLamar

@Kyle_Wingfield @HeadleyLamar Not that long ago, gay marriage would have been considered an "extreme example."


Not really. I would imagine its always enjoyed quite a bit more support than incest. 


Your just using things like polygamy and incest to muddy the waters. Just like Orielly did comparing Gay Marriage to beastility .


Sorry wont fly.