October 28, 2008

One Way to National SSM

Justin Katz

Look, I'm not making any claims as to whether and how Obama will seek to silence the political right wing, or how much he'll succeed if he tries. As I've been reading various news items throughout the campaign season, a plot has begun to form. It's not a matter of predicting the future; it's a matter of imagining a scenario and considering whether there's a plausible path from here to there — not to argue that it will happen, but to entertain the imaginative question of whether it could. Behind all the writing, I'm a novelist at heart, and the emergence of a storyline intrigues me.

So, again, I'm not arguing that the following is likely, much less probable. I'm pointing out that something is possible, depending on a wide variety of other factors, and creating that world in a work of fiction would make for an interesting story.

To the above-linked post, msteven comments (in part):

How would Obama or anyone for that matter implement same-sex marriage nationally? Presidents or any political executives don’t have that type of power. Just ask the Mayor of SF. This is not to mention that Obama has already gone on record being against SSM? ...

There is a significant difference between changing positions on taking public campaign money and on same-sex marriage, where the majority of the public is against it. The only reason he would even pursue implementing SSM is if it were to benefit him politically.

Put aside msteven's faith that Obama's relative silence on same-sex marriage indicates a lack of ideological drive rather than the existence of political calculation that would be subject to change. As far as I can tell from his Web site, Obama isn't saying much about the marriage issue, probably for the very reason that msteven notes: his views conflict with those of the majority of the public. From what I've gleaned of Obama's position, though, it's consistent with the "civil unions" solution of giving homosexuals the same benefits and privileges, but without calling it marriage.

Well, unhappily, that's precisely the route to the redefinition of merriage that California and Connecticut have blazed in recent months: Create a "different in name only" institution and then leave it to the courts to declare it unconstitutional not to fold them together. At the national level, that could negate every state law or constitutional amendment defining marriage as strictly an opposite-sex relationship, as well as every federal law (e.g., the Defense of Marriage Act) meant to keep the issue in check.

There are a variety of preconditions required for this to happen, of course, but in a (probably fictional) future that casts Obama in an attempt to suppress the conservative movement, the steps are not implausible. And if, in that world, the president (with the help of a supermajority of his own party in Congress) has successfully minimized the power of talk radio and the Internet, and perhaps begun to manacle private enterprise through unionization, he would have political reason — and cover — to gun for the churches.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

When Obama was elected to head the Harvard Law Review he did not freeze out the conservatives but instead gave them editors positions. The people left unhappy with his selections of staff were not the conservatives but African Americans and liberals.

From Politico:

Once a piece is set, the president also sends a letter or fax and makes a follow-up phone call to each author. Federal Judge Michael W. McConnell, who was nominated by President Bush and has frequently been mentioned as one of Bush’s potential Supreme Court nominees, recalls receiving one such letter and call in early 1990 for his article “The Origins and Historical Understanding of Free Exercise of Religion.”

McConnell told Politico, “A frequent problem with student editors is that they try to turn an article into something they want it to be. It was striking that Obama didn’t do that. He tried to make it better from my point of view.” McConnell was impressed enough to urge the University of Chicago Law School to seek Obama out as an academic prospect


If someone has taken a non-ideological approach to their work in the past is there then some hope that may continue in the future. Also you should not have to worry about anyone taking you seriously. I've always assumed you were writing fiction.

Posted by: Phil at October 28, 2008 6:58 AM

Harvard Law Review was twenty years ago (around the same time that I was protesting the first Iraq war). It was before Chicago, before Ayers, before Wright, before the most liberal voting record in the Senate. You can pick moments from a man's life to substantiate any given claim, but I prefer to look at trajectory and current evidence.

As for your quip, given the sorts of people that your ilk takes seriously, I won't fret.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 28, 2008 7:16 AM

Your admission of opposition to the first Iraq war was meant to demonstrate how vastly you have changed over the years. Events and circumstances change but most people remain very much the same throughout.
Who is my ilk? Can you give me some names. Is this another example of your creative process as a writer of fiction?
These questions are real and not imaginative questions.

Phil with or without his ilk

Posted by: Phil at October 28, 2008 8:14 AM

This scenario is hysterical paranoia. George Jefferson has proven to be nothing but a corrupt machine hack ala Murphy and Montalbano. Witness his first act as Senator was getting his Ho' Michelle a $350,000 no-show job with a hospital who he then steered millions in contracts to.
Plus there are enough sane, centrist Democrat Senators, even the Majority leader is pro-gun and anti baby-killing, to kick the Stalinist schemes firmly in the behind.
In short, even if they win the White House and get 60 Democrats in the Senate, the Jerzykians will be BITTERLY dissapointed by the tepid results they get from those they labored to elect.

Posted by: Mike at October 28, 2008 8:29 AM

“Put aside msteven's cynicism that Obama will only act out of political calculation, rather than ideological drive.”
----- To those that hadn’t read my entire comments in Justin’s original post, I meant that on the issue of SSM, not that he would only act out of political calculation in general. And I say that based on the fact that he hasn’t exactly made the issue a pinnacle of the campaign and that currently the majority of Americans do not support SSM.

OK, so you are a novelist and this is an elaborate and interesting political storyline for a potential novel. You should change the names and go for it. But in the c0ntext of a post in your political commentary website, I still maintain the scenario is very extreme and less likely than Obama nominating Bill Ayers as Secretary of State.

I'm with Mike on this. Those expecitng a dramatic shift to the left in social and economic policy will be dissapointed. My biggest fear of an Obama administration and liberal majority is how it will affect foriegn policy.

Posted by: msteven at October 28, 2008 11:00 AM

Justin - I trust you have not yet had the opportunity to delete Mike's comment. I hope that is the only reason it remains two and a half hours after it was posted.

Posted by: Jon at October 28, 2008 11:08 AM

My main concern with an Obama presidency is that we will have Carter redux on foreign policy,meaning pissing on our shoes when critical events present themselves.
My other concern is a totally irresponsible version of the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill,which was itself bad enough.
Judicial appointments are another concern,which people tend to underrate until something comes up like a private developer being able to use eminent domain to seize private property.
Onerous gun/ammo control is the least likely for Obama to impose,because there are many Democrats,including very liberal ones,who are nor out to demonize law abiding citizens who own firearms.

Posted by: joe bernstein at October 28, 2008 11:59 AM


I did not mean to misrepresent your comment on political motivation. I've edited for clarity.

Let me clarify something else (noting that I'm surprised at the need to do so): I wasn't saying that this line of thinking is the plot of a wholly fictional work with no basis in reality. The fact is that developing a fictional plot based on current events and analyzing possible political futures are very similar, the difference being a line of credulity: part of the assessment is how likely a particular scenario is to occur.

In this case, I've been very clear that I find the extremity unlikely, though not implausible, given a particular development of circumstances. Time will tell, and I sincerely hope that a man steeped in the looney academic left, backed by the extreme left-wing of his party (and recall that Clinton ran to his right in the primaries), and with the Senate's most liberal voting record proves to be a centrist if elected president. He's got a lot of people to thank for his rapid ascent, and I find it very difficult to believe that he'll rapidly disregard his debt to them — especially on issues for which he has no strongly stated position.

I agree, by the way, that Ayers is unlikely to be made Secretary of State. He's probably already lined up for Secretary of Education. (Kidding.)

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 28, 2008 12:43 PM


I'm sorry to disappoint, but after a fair amount of thought, I'm not going to delete Mike's comment. I don't like it. I think some readers would be justified in being offended by it, in a general way. But I don't believe that the racial component of the cultural reference or the vernacular put the comment beyond the bounds of this sort of forum.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 28, 2008 12:47 PM

Justin - I am disappointed. While I sometimes disagree with you on issues, I have usually found you to be a reasonable administrator of the content and civility of AR. It surprises me that you want the calling of any candidate's wife such a thing within the bounds of this forum, not to mention the "cultural reference." I guess this isn't the type of forum I thought it was.

Posted by: Jon at October 28, 2008 12:58 PM


I understand what you are saying. Where we disagree is on the line of credulity and in the plausibility of such a scenario based on current events. Yes, he is left of Clinton and in my opinion, that is ‘the other’ reason he won the primary along with being the celebrity darling of someone with the status of Oprah but I don’t it is plausible that he could make what would be considered monumental changes in social or economic policy. He would have to gain the support of the majority of the American people. His support is much more indicative of the people’s unhappiness with the current administration and the current economic crisis. Elections are about choices between sets of people. Enacting policy after being elected is a whole different ballgame. I think your scenario is something out of a fictional movie (Fox, obviously )

I knew Ayers was an educator but I thought he was more interested in foreign policy which is why I put him for State dept.

Back to agreement, I agree with you for not deleting Mike's comment. Parts of it are over-the-top and offensive, but I don’t think it crosses that – admittedly arbitrary – line of being ‘out of bounds’. I’d like to (and do) think that you’d make the same decision regardless of the political side the commenter supported. You can’t please (or not risk offending) everyone in your role as site administrator. I respect your decision here.

Posted by: msteven at October 28, 2008 1:41 PM

Justin, how very ACLU of you. I agree 100%. First Admendment rights defense is much more important than censoring the cowardly Mike comments. Protecting pornography and Mike is a small price to pay for free speech.

Posted by: David at October 28, 2008 1:42 PM

Also agree re: the Mike comments.
Exposing ignorance can be much more beneficial than trying to censor it. Also, we don't need to hear him play the victim card.

Posted by: rhody at October 28, 2008 3:43 PM

Rhody - 1
David - 0

Posted by: msteven at October 28, 2008 4:24 PM

Obama hasn't held a SINGLE press conference in over a month. You don't hear anyone in the mainstream media criticizing Obama though.

At the same time, Democrats and the media have criticized Sarah Palin for not holding ENOUGH press conferences.

Obama has publicly stated that he didn't think the Warren Court went far enough because it failed to redistribute wealth during the civil rights era.

Obama openly stated that he immersed himself in classes taught by Marxists while he was in college because he didn't want to be viewed as a "sell out".

Yet when an Orlando news anchor ask Joe Biden about Obama's philosophies on wealth distribution, the Obama campaign responds by blacklisting the station and telling it that will no longer answer any questions from that station.

Now THAT is Marxist!

That should give you a prelude of what is to come. Politicians are always the most open when they're running for office.

Most "professional" journalists have abdicated what used to be a responsibility to provide objective reporting. At best, they're essentially columnists offering opinions in the guise of news.

At worst, they have become shills for an agenda, no different than the car salesman trying to use every technique to get you to buy a car.

Except in the case of journalists, they use loaded words to get readers to adopt their particular perspective of a candidate or story.

Maybe the ultimate responsibility is with the editors, I don't know. But I can say this: increasingly there is little difference between journalists and car salesmen.

At least with car salesmen, you know what they're selling when you walk in the door.

Posted by: Anthony at October 28, 2008 7:43 PM

You have no shame. It's good to know that you are talking to a very small and small minded few - a closed circle sewing hate and distortions.

Come November 5th you and your coterie of courtiers will have evidence of how small your circle is. Keep pissing in the wind. If you find it refreshing be my guest.

It's interesting to note that you take out a microscope to examine anything that the Obama camp says and have yet to comment on Palin's weak and inept Couric interview.
You are playing dodge ball.

Pragmatist asked, "Can you honestly tell us that while watching her interview with Katie Couric, you did not cringe?" This is a question that you have ass-iduosly ignored. Speak up you coward.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at October 28, 2008 7:53 PM

I posted on that interview when it was newly out. Feel free to seek out my comments if you care so much.

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 28, 2008 8:21 PM

Biden delivered one of the most effective smackdowns to a reporter since Bush 41 slapped Dan Rather for his infamous six-minute walkoff when the U.S. Open ran over.
Regardless of which side of the spectrum you're on, those were both good responses - they beat boilerplate or tantrums.

Posted by: rhody at October 29, 2008 11:35 AM


What you freely assert, I can freely deny. Onto my assertions.

It is you who has no shame. It is you who among the circle of small minded sewing hatred and distortions. What happens on Nov 5th is evidence of nothing except that on Nov 4, 2008 the majority of voters preferred Barack Obama over John McCain as President. Just as they preferred George W. Bush over John Kerry & Al Gore, Bill Clinton over Dole, etc. It is indicative of current events and charisma over substance. You have said yourself that you’d prefer Obama move to the left but you will vote for him rather than the alternative.

Palin’s interview with Couric was a lame performance and that has been all over the news since the minute it ended. Of course the gaffes from both Obama and Biden have been largely ignored by the main-stream press. I’ll acknowledge that is not a legit reason for the outcome as the biased press has been a fact for a long term and still Republicans/conservatives have won elections.

But the bottom line is that it is you who are a partisan coward, silent in defeat but obnoxious in victory. It is you who are pissing in the wind – just because you have the wind at your back doesn’t change that fact.

Posted by: msteven at October 29, 2008 12:04 PM

Thanks for the invitation to seek out your comments. I did. I checked out your blog, "Leaving Obama on the Impulse Rack" and find that you never answered Pragmatist's question, which was "Can you honestly tell us that while watching her interview with Katie Couric, you did not cringe. Pragmatist's was the penultimate comment. It was followed by my comment asking you to respond to Pragmatist's question... Nothing followed. You never answered.
Still waiting,

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at October 29, 2008 2:40 PM

You ramble and rant so much that it is difficult to untangle the crazy quilt web that you spin.
1. But I am compelled to ask you what "hatred" have I invoked or sewn? Until you cite examples you are simply making unfounded assertions.
2. Are you saying that all elections that you cited are indicative of "current events and charisma over substance", or are you saying just this one. I f you are saying just this one, you'll have to back up that assertion with some proof. If you are saying all elections put current events (whatever it is that you actually mean by the phrase. I don't think that it's in agreement with my interpretation which is, "the reality of present circumstances") and charisma over substance. Then your cynicism obscures you grasp of reality.

Palin's astounding ignorance was on display in the Couric interview. That's a species removed from a "gaffe", which anyone (Obama, McCain, Biden, et.al.) can commit. When Obama referred to "57 states" and when McCain addressing a rally said, "My fellow prisoners", they were gaffes, displaying weariness, but not ignorance". Palin's unvarnished ignorance goes well beyond a gaffe.

Finally, in addition to your obvious need to take a few logic courses, you also should retake your high school physics class, especially with regard to the manner in which fluids are conducted by the wind. Of course, you may be saying that the wind at my back is so strong that it traverses the earth. I'd get wet, but I'd take it under those circumstances.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at October 29, 2008 3:08 PM

You ramble and rant so much that it is difficult to untangle the crazy quilt web that you spin.
---- The hypocrisy that YOU of all would write that about someone else is staggering.

I could say that your oft used assertions of ignorance towards anyone who doesn’t agree with you are examples of ‘invoking hatred’ but that may be a fine line to cross. Instead, I’ll just say that it was you who referred to the ‘closed circle sewing hate and distortions’ and my response was based on the hypocrisy of that coming from you, who have shown that you are among the best in that sewing.

I was referring to Presidential election where I believe it can be argued that since the Nixon-Kennedy debate, the winners have been the superior candidate in both appearance and charisma. Of course, “the reality of present circumstances” as you well put it also has an impact on the voters. In both these cases along with the help of the MSM, Obama has major advantages in this election.

You missed my point of the piss in the wind comment. It was not about getting wet but referred to ‘content’ – as in comparing your silly hyperbole to urine.

Posted by: msteven at October 29, 2008 4:10 PM

Still waiting for your answer to pragmatist's question.

Your saying that someone is something does not make it so. You need to back it up. Placing assertion upon assertion is meaningless. I won't bother trying to help you any further.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at October 30, 2008 12:15 PM


FYI - saying that someone is something does not make it so. You need to back it up. Placing assertion upon assertion is meaningless. (déjà vu?)

Repeating the obvious, YOU, of all pointing out a lack of response to another’s question screams that famous pot-kettle phrase. I won’t bother finding the numerous examples where both you and Pragmatist have gone silent after someone questions your “logic” (quote-unquote). Your lack of further assistance is appreciated.

Posted by: msteven at October 30, 2008 2:24 PM
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