Saturday, June 03, 2006

Bush Strategy Could Backfire

For two reasons.

First, here's the New York Times talking about the Smart Idea Bush has for getting votes for Republicans in the off-year elections:
President Bush is beginning a major push for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, part of a new campaign to appease cultural conservatives who say he and his party abandoned their issues after the 2004 elections.

Mr. Bush plans to declare strong support for the amendment — scheduled for a vote in the Senate next week — in his radio address on Saturday, and at an event at the White House on Monday with conservative activists and religious leaders, White House officials said Friday.

Taken together, the events will be the first time Mr. Bush has so strongly promoted his opposition to same-sex marriage since his re-election campaign nearly two years ago. Democrats accused the White House of trotting out a reliable hot-button issue to help soothe and re-energize disgruntled conservative voters five months before the midterm Congressional elections. "Everybody's going to see through it," said Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

But, in a new twist this year, some conservative activists expressed similar cynicism. They said Mr. Bush and the Republicans in Congress had a long way to go to convince social conservatives that they viewed the issue as anything but a politically convenient tool that they picked up only when they needed to motivate their core voters. Bush to Press for U.S. Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Yes, of course the Democrats are going to be skeptical, but ... even the conservatives are scratching their heads and saying, "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Some of them are smart enough to realize that they were promised everything in the last two elections, and they didn't get any of it.

Look, the question is this: are the American people so stupid that all you have to do is push their buttons and they'll do whatever you want?

How perceptive do you really have to be, to understand this maneuver for what it is? How much intelligence is required, to realize that America has some serious, serious problems, and Adam and Steve ain't on the list?

There is an interesting reaction this time. John Aravosis, a progressive gay blogger, has it this way:
The gay bashers are holding "Marriage Protection Sunday" tomorrow.

They better make sure all their supporters on the Hill are sticking to their vows: no divorces, no adultery, no sodomy. If they want the subject to be marriage protection, we all need to know that their marriages are meeting the standards set by the theocrats who run the GOP.

Some reporter needs to ask about the policy at the White House on divorce, sodomy and adultery for the staff and the Bush and Cheney families. At a minimum, it should be: no marriage, no sex.

The theocrats are aiming for gays now. But they are waging a war on sex. That affects everyone -- even all the red-state, red-blooded men who voted for Bush. AmericaBlog

Think what it would be if those who campaigned for "traditional families" were expected to actually have traditional families.

On this blog, I have bitten my tongue many times over those on the Other Side who claim to support "traditional marriage," after having had divorces themselves. What's harder on a "traditional marriage," do you think, two guys down the street moving in together -- or divorce? A divorce literally destroys a marriage, by definition, that's why you do it. Two guys falling in love might challenge your conception of marriage, but it doesn't hurt it any. Those guys weren't going to marry women, anyway.

See, if you're going to stand for marriage, you ought to show you're able to make that commitment and keep it.

Like, look how the San Diego papers are treating this hypocrite:
Republican Jim Galley, who is running for Congress as a “pro-traditional family” candidate, was married to two women at the same time, defaulted on his child support payments and has been accused of abuse by one of his ex-wives.

The San Diego Union-Tribune discovered the personal history in making public-records checks on Galley, who is making his fourth run for elective office in four years. These checks are part of the newspaper's election reporting process.

Galley married his second wife, Beth, in 1982 when, unbeknownst to her, he was still married to his first wife, Terry. Beth and Galley divorced in 1990 after she sought a restraining order alleging abuse.

The child support was owed to his first wife. Documents show issues with wives, child support

Until now, the news media have been unwilling to examine the personal lives of politicians. We considered it good enough to read about their professional activities, and if they had something going on the side, or haunted the wrong kind of bars, or whatever, we didn't hear about it. Because we elected them to legislate laws, to maintain order in our society, to protect our freedom and make hard decisions, and it didn't really matter what anyone did in their private life.

But they're changing that. Now it does matter what you do in your private life. Now they want to pass laws about what people can do in their private lives.

And I gotta say, it looks like this time it just might come around and bite 'em on the aspirations.


Blogger Orin Ryssman said...

Jim writes,

But they're changing that. Now it does matter what you do in your private life. Now they want to pass laws about what people can do in their private lives.

This is factually incorrect, as in the same category as asserting that two plus two equals five.

The issue about "traditional marriage" (which, btw, I think is a BIG mistake by those that use it since some traditions are not true or right, e.g. slavery, which the Old South defended in part on tradition) is not about banning homosexuals from marriage. To the contrary, if homosexuals desire to enter into a marriage they can do so on the same basis it is offered to all: one man and one woman. And even at that, there are regulations/restrictions on who may marry. There are limitations based on age (re. consent). And there are other restrictions, such as a father marrying his adult daughter and the like.

For example, I know of gay partners that live in my neighborhood. One works in higher ed and the other works as a public employee in a neighboring city. The have a couple of canines that one of them walks on a regular basis, and that is about all I will disclose about them.

What they do in the privacy of their own home and lives is their own business.

But the issue that is being pushed by some civil and homosexual rights advocacy groups is not about what is done in the privacy of one's own home and lives. What is being pushed by these groups and their lawyers (with the assistance of some members of the judicial branch) is a radical redefinition of a bedrock societal institution that has been around so long that it pre-dates all modern societies.

I really wish this issue would just go away...I know I have not sought this out as an issue. It is so prone to being misunderstood and to creating no shortage of ill feelings that whoever "wins" loses.

However, if gays and lesbians are allowed to marry, what will be done when polygamists also seek to have marriage further redefined...that is, on what rational and legal basis (remember, Equal Protection of the Laws means just that...EQUAL) will the "right" of marriage be denied???

Please, no name calling...simply address the question.

Much like with the issue of abortion, I am in agreement with James Q. Wilson (see my entry on the SD abortion ban); the issue ought to be handled by the branch of government best equipped to broker a compromise we can all live with, the legislative branch. This is something though that those pushing same-sex "marriage" have been reluctant to do to date, and for one simple reason: with no exception that I am aware of, whenever this issue has been put to a vote (either in a legislature or by voters themselves), those pushing this attempt to redefine marriage have been defeated. Hence, the focus on judicial approach...which has yielded results in only two states, Vermont and Massachussetts. Even in blue states, when this issue has been put before voters (in the last election that would be states that Kerry decisively carried), the results have been clear and by decisive margins - such measures time and time and time again have been defeated.

Oh, and check this out,


June 03, 2006 12:35 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Orin, personally it's no problem to me if people practice polygamy. Did you see the news story from India this week, where a lady married a snake? The whole village rejoiced -- 2,000 people came to the wedding. Tell me, where's the harm? Now, that's just me, I'm not speaking for TeachTheFacts here, but, look, I've had lots of Mormon friends, and I know how they feel about it -- it wouldn't work for me, but we both know there are tens of thousands of polygamous American families, and it hasn't hurt you or me in any way.

The "bedrock societal institution" you refer is not one that is created by law. Boys and girls fall in love without prompting, and societies that try to prevent that inevitably fail -- you've seen where they find tunnels between the monastery and the convent. You don't have to tell people to fall in love and get married, they will figure this out on their own.

Most people.

Some small percentage of people feel differently. I don't know why, but they are attracted to people of their own sex. It's not that somebody told them to be that way, or that the law forced them to be different, they just are. It happens everywhere in the world the same, whether a society accepts it or not.

And the "problem" is, those people have feelings just like the rest of us, deep feelings of love, and they like to express their love by forming lifetime relationships with one another. Those relationships are "like" marriage in every way. There is love, there is intimacy, there is a household, there are responsibilities and shared interests and all the rest that goes with it. I don't know how they work out the thing with the remote control, but it is worked out, some way. There may not be reproduction, but other marriages are not disqualified for being childless, it is not really a criterion unless someone decides to redefine marriage in a new way.

Our society acknowledges the importance of dyadic commitments in many ways, including some legal benefits that are extended to persons who form lifetime relationships -- marriages -- with one another. And I don't see any reason that these people, in their long-time committed relationships, should not have the same rights that the rest of us have.

Sometimes I think the answer to this controversy is this: define marriage as a religious institution. Only chuches can marry people, including the Church of Atheism, or the Church of Gay, or whatever. And professional organizations would be legally obligated to recognize all marriages in the same way. Keep the government out of it, I don't know what the role of secular government is in marriage at any rate.

But again, that's just me.


June 03, 2006 1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Orin writes:

"What is being pushed by these groups and their lawyers (with the assistance of some members of the judicial branch) is a radical redefinition of a bedrock societal institution that has been around so long that it pre-dates all modern societies."

This "bedrock societal institution" was, in until very recent history, often an economic institution (not one of love) in which the participants were ordered into it by their fathers. But it has changed -- and for the better. Similarly, this "bedrock societal institution," in biblical times, included polygamy, which your post indicates you oppose. But it has changed (except in a few places in America), and that is for the better, as well. (I disagree with Jim on this point; it seems to me that it is too inherently a coercive and often predatory situation, to which the government should not give sanction.)

In America, we tend to view marriage as the union of two people who love each other and have chosen each other, and who wish to build a life together. Orrin, do you agree with this modern view of the evolution of marriage? If it does not trouble you, why should gay couples be deprived of the rights and responsibilities that civil marriage affords?

BTW, have you thought about a response to the questions I posed to you on the thread following Jim's Weekly Standard post?

I won't be responding to too much for the next few days. My wife and I are traveling to attend our older son's graduation from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Orrin, why are you so intent on depriving my wonderful gay son of the rights and responsibilities of marriage, should he meet his soulmate?

June 03, 2006 5:21 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Orin said, "if homosexuals desire to enter into a marriage they can do so on the same basis it is offered to all: one man and one woman."

There is not only one form of marriage "offered to all" in the USA today. So far, one state, Massachusetts, allows couples of the same sex to wed.

This situation is similar to the demise of the prohibition against interracial marriage. During that civil rights struggle one state, California, led the way to ending discrimination just as Massachusetts leads the way today.


June 04, 2006 8:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To state that homosexuals can marry if they choose to go against their fundamental nature smacks of fascism. It denys homosexual men and women the basic right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. "Yes you can marry, but only if it is an adult of my choosing not yours." The idea of equating gay rights and poligamy is a dead issue. All straight Americans have the right to marry one person of their choosing. Gay Americans want that same right; the right to marry one person of their choosing. Equality.

June 04, 2006 3:17 PM  
Blogger Willie Hewes said...

JimK, it's not just you. I've often wondered the same.

June 05, 2006 3:53 AM  

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