“To the left of” Obama


For Villagers, Republicans are “moderates” if they’re reasonable dinner party guests.

via Eschaton: It’s Just Tone.

Yes, and this revisionist policy position syndrome affects more people than you think. See one Bill Maher.

I’ve heard him say quite often that former Vice President Dick Cheney is to the left of President Obama on marriage equality. President Obama has successfully led the repeal of DADT, extended benefits to domestic partners of executive branch employees, supports Civil Unions, stopped the DOJ from defending DOMA in court. Prior to that, Obama as US Senator and US Representative had a record of supporting Civil Rights for LGBT Americans including supporting hate crimes legislation that includes LGBT as a protected class. The sticking point here is that Obama supports civil unions (short of gay marriage), while Dick Cheney supports marriage equality although like Obama he says (marriage is the province of the states). But Cheney’s strong personal support of LGBT rights amounted when hedged against the Bush/Cheney’s platform resulted in substantial setbacks to marriage equality and civil rights for LGBT Americans.

Cheney was a long serving US Representative, a Secretary of Defense, director of the Council of Foreign Relations and a very powerful vice president for the bulk of George W. Bush’s 8 years in office. It’s true, as Secretary of Defense he was first quoted on the record as referring to the policy of banning gays in the military as “an old chestnut”. But not that old of a chestnut:

Increasingly, toward the end of his tenure, Cheney had to consider social issues affecting the military forces, particularly the status of homosexuals in the military and the role of women in combat. In the face of pressure from some members of Congress and the public at large, Cheney reviewed standing DoD policy on these matters. He decided that the existing policies–a ban on homosexuals serving in the military and the exclusion of women from combat positions–were correct and did not need to be changed.

During and after his tenure as VP, Cheney also professed his belief in full marriage equality, but he did little beyond these proclamations of personal belief to advance the rights of LGBT Americans with regards to these issues. Cheney picked himself for the number two job in the Bush administration as head of Bush 2000 VP search committee and it was evident then that a Bush/Cheney administration would never support repeal of DADT or marriage equality and in fact would push for less civil rights for LGBT groups. During the 2000 and 04 elections Bush/Cheney, ran on a platform that made them the bulwark protecting real ‘murkins and their children from teh ghey marriages.

This was a big motivator for evangelicals, the group that when energized supercharges the ground game for Republicans. To tweak the issue prior to the US Presidential Election in 2004 and Mid Term elections in 2006, the Bush Administration introduced legislation for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and woman. These “sanctity of marriage” amendments failed, but showed that no federal action was possible. “The Sanctity of Marriage” was up to social conservative evangelical voters. With this demagoguery as a motivator, from 2002 to 2008, social conservatives proposed and passed anti-marriage equality ballot measures in 29 states that amended their constitutions to be anti-gay marriage.

Degree, magnitude, process and consequence of political actions matter. Cheney was vocal or personally adamant in his support for marriage equality and civil rights but this was largely absent from Cheney’s legislative, cabinet and vice presidential agendas. These same issues have been political priorities in President Obama’s considerably shorter political career. Cheney squandered his opportunity to be politically “on the left” of Obama on these issues in any substantial way.