Visual source: Newseum
It seems clear that his position on gay marriage will cost Obama some support in what promises to be a tough battle for reelection. The crucial impact will be in the swing states. North Carolina, for example, is a former Republican stronghold that Obama won in 2008. Will the people who voted so decisively against same-sex marriage be motivated to vote against him in November?Melinda Henneberger:
Some will, undoubtedly. But it was interesting that Obama?s all-but-certain GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, reacted to the president?s shift on gay marriage with a relatively subdued statement, reiterating his opposition but acknowledging that the issue is a ?tender and sensitive topic.? The risk for Romney is that, although his position ? he wants a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage ? is popular among Republican primary voters, it might be seen as mean-spirited and punitive by the independents who will ultimately decide the election.
Politically, Obama may have taken a big step toward reclaiming the future.
Meanwhile, in this economy, I doubt the election is going to be over gay marriage, even at the margins. But like every election, it is going to be over trust: Do I believe what just flew out of that guy?s mouth? Do I think he believes what he?s saying?Richard Cohen :
It?s in that way, more than anything, that coming out with his support for gay marriage is a help to Obama ? and that pretending he doesn?t remember what sounds like one of the worst moments of his life works against Romney.
Critics of The Washington Post?s story detailing Mitt Romney?s bullying of a classmate nearly 50 years ago may be right: It has little bearing on the man he is today or the president he might become. The incident hardly matters. His handling of it is a different story. It matters.When you've lost Beltway insiders like Cohen, you've lost the argument (hence Romney's quick apology.)
So how to think about The Post?s story of Romney and the purportedly gay prep school classmate he bullied? Recklessness is a common side-effect of adolescence ? drinking too much, driving too fast. Meannesss is another matter. Yes, teenager are more prone to displaying the primal cruelty of ?Mean Girls? and ?Lord of the Flies? than their grown-up selves. But the Queen Bees of middle school have an unpleasant tendency to grow into the Real Housewives of Wherever.Bill Galston at Brookings has published a long but readable paper on why the election will be close.
It remains to be seen whether the negative perceptions of Romney that resulted from the nominating contest will endure. For the time being, at least, Obama enjoys a sizeable advantage on a host of personal qualities. He has a narrow edge in most of the key swing states. And his path to 270 electoral votes is easier than Romney?s. In short, he begins the general election contest with a modest advantage, which adverse developments at home or abroad could eliminate or even reverse. The 2012 election will be hotly contested, and the victor?s margin is unlikely to approach Obama?s seven-point edge in 2008.Must read for those predicting a blow-out.
One way to explain Sen. Richard Lugar?s loss to state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in this week?s Indiana Republican primary is to attribute it to a tea party takeover of the GOP. A second explanation is that a venerable public servant overstayed his welcome and ran for reelection one time too many. A third is that Lugar was too focused on international relations and grew too distant from his state?that he didn?t keep his political fences mended back home.Dana Milbank:
The fact is, all three factors contributed to Lugar?s defeat.
Mourdock, a geologist by trade, is Indiana?s state treasurer. Perennial candidate Judd, who goes by the nickname ?Dark Priest? and has an extremely long mullet, lists himself as a past member of the Federation of Super Heroes and is doing time for making threats at the University of New Mexico.
Yet the two men are equally irrational in their plans for changing Washington. And the two are equally likely to succeed with these plans, which is to say they have no chance at all.