You have probably already heard that the Senate is set to debate an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. In his weekly radio address last Saturday, President Bush came out strongly in favor of the amendment. He said:
Marriage is the most enduring and important human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith. Ages of experience have taught us that the commitment of a husband and a wife to love and to serve one another promotes the welfare of children and the stability of society. Marriage cannot be cut off from its cultural, religious, and natural roots without weakening this good influence on society. Government, by recognizing and protecting marriage, serves the interests of all (source).
Critics of the President are saying that he is merely pandering to his base and that there are more important things that he needs to be focusing on. For instance, Gavin Newsom, the Democrat mayor of San Francisco who issued same-sex â€œmarriageâ€ licenses in 2004, says that â€œItâ€™s politics, itâ€™s pandering and itâ€™s placating the core constituency â€” the evangelicalsâ€ (source).
Even the New York Times chimed in this morning in an editorial titled â€œDivide and Conquer the Votersâ€:
President Bush devoted his Saturday radio speech to a cynical boost for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It was depressing in the extreme to hear the chief executive trying to pretend, at this moment in American history, that this was a critical priority . . .
All this effort to divert the nationâ€™s attention to issues that divide and distract would be bad enough if the country were not facing real, disastrous problems at home and abroad. But then, if that werenâ€™t the case, Mr. Bush probably wouldnâ€™t feel moved to stoop so low (source).
My take on this turn of events is this. If fulfilling a pledge to do what the people who put you in office elected you to do is pandering, then letâ€™s have more of it. The fact is that President Bush would not have been elected in 2004 had there not been referendums on gay â€œmarriageâ€ in swing-states like Ohio. The base turned out in election 2004 because of this very issue.
Not only that, it would add insult to injury for him not to support something that he told his base he supports in principle. Heâ€™s already demoralized his base on immigration, and he cannot afford to waver on traditional marriage.
I donâ€™t care if heâ€™s doing it to bring up his poll numbers. Iâ€™m just glad heâ€™s doing it. Itâ€™s the right thing, even though it is not likely to get the two-thirds majority needed in the Senate.