Newsweek: Obama ‘The First Gay President’

Newsweek’s cover for it’s new edition is sure to arouse some conversation:

The article apparently won’t be available till tomorrow……

 

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Politicians, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    Shouldn’t it be, “The First Gay Kenyan Marxist President”?
    or would it be, “The First Kenyan Marxist Gay President”?
    or might it be, “The First Kenyan Gay Marxist President”?
    or can it be, “The First Marxist Kenyan Gay President”?

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

  2. This is the sort of obsequious fawning that makes it impossible to take Sullivan’s political analysis serious. Obama’s support of gay rights has been, at best, lukewarm. Whenever a stand for our rights has been controversial, he’s refused to take a stand and fight for them. Instead, he waits until public perception has already shifted in our favor does he come out on our side. This is merely waiting to see where the parade is going and then jumping in front and trying to tell everyone you’re the drum major.

    Yes Obama looks better than the Republicans, who embrace bigotry (either sincerely or pandering purposes), but so what? That’s a very low bar. Just because the Republicans deserve to be condemned does not by extension mean that Obama deserves to be praised for doing the bear minimum.

    And it certainly doesn’t make him “The First Gay President”, an assertion I find frankly offensive.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    I actually agree. I’m very glad Mr. Obama took this stand. I think it’s a watershed moment for gay rights. It’s important. But let’s not crawl too far up Mr. Obama’s butt, he followed, he didn’t lead. He didn’t create the wave, he surfed it.

  4. JKB says:

    Well, the MSM have always said he looked fabulous.

    @michael reynolds:
    Worse, he followed Dick Cheney.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    Worse, he followed Dick Cheney.

    How’s that?

    As for Sullivan, this is a tendency he’s had for some time…at one point, he fawned over Bush in much the same way…

  6. John Peabody says:

    Boy, these are quite a few comments for a post that has less than one complete sentence!

  7. Jeremy R says:

    @JKB:

    Worse, he followed Dick Cheney.

    What, he shared a presidential ticket that deliberately engineered, as a strategy, anti-gay ballot measures around the nation to gin up base turnout, enshrining in state after state constitution discrimination against those like his own daughter? Seems a tough act to follow really…

  8. anjin-san says:

    @JKB

    I am amazed that you can find time to post – the Chinese, Russians and Iranians are coming – do you have your survival strategy in place??

  9. KansasMom says:

    @Jeremy R: And waited to announce his support for his daughter and her family after he was safely out of office. Courage, thy name is Dick Cheney.

  10. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    China’s state media threaten war with Philippines over disputed islands

    Russia threatens to destroy US missile shield in Europe

    Iran is well known

    In traditional language most of that is threat of war but perhaps it is something different in newspeak?

  11. Let’s not hold Sullivan responsible for the headline on the cover, that’s usually something the editors pick out.

    I’ll be interested to see what the article says but, yea, I agree with those who’ve said it’s likely to be overly obsequious

  12. Mark says:

    Have any of you actually read it yet?

  13. Janis Gore says:

    Lordy, the conspiracy theorists must be in heaven. “We is confirmed!”

  14. Herb says:

    @JKB:

    “Worse, he followed Dick Cheney. “

    While I think Dick Cheney deserves credit for his stance on gay rights, I also think we should acknowledge that Dick Cheney’s view is NOT the Republican view. Dick Cheney is a Republican, yes, and a prominent one at that. But on gay issues, he’s an outlier.

  15. KariQ says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Obama’s support of gay rights has been, at best, lukewarm.

    Really? I do agree that calling him the “first gay president” is ridiculous, but I just don’t get this attitude.

    Among his actions supporting gay rights are:

    Repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
    Extended federal benefits to same sex partners
    Instituted a requirement that any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds allow same sex partners to have visitation rights
    Signed the UN gay rights document (reversing earlier policy)
    Extended domestic violence protection to include GLBT partners
    Extended the Family Leave act to include children of same sex partners
    Extended gender-based employment discrimination protection to the transgendered
    Signed the Matthew Shepherd hate crimes law
    Lifted the ban on individuals with HIV entering the country
    Halted defense of DOMA

    And that’s only a small sample of the things he’s done to support gay rights.

    I wish he’d come out with this support for gay marriage sooner and more forcefully. But to say he hasn’t supported gay rights or hasn’t supported them enough is rather mind-boggling to me. What on earth did you think he was going to do if you’re disappointed about what he’s actually done?

  16. Dazedandconfused says:

    NTTAWWT

  17. André Kenji de Sousa says:

    1-) I always thought that Sullivan is overestimated, to the extreme.

    2-) Tina Brown transformed Newsweek in a poor, hipster tabloid, with no news inside it.

  18. Tano says:

    I think Obama handled gay issues in a very smart and effective way. It is idiotic to expect Presidents to take the lead on social issues like this. We simply do not live in the type of society in which leadership from the top causes social progress. We should be glad about that – a society that looked to its highest leaders for such leadership would be authoritarian.

    Whether it be Lincoln on slavery, Johnson and Kennedy on civil rights, or Obama on gay rights, the President if most effective when he uses the power of his office at precisely the right moment – the moment when his influence can tip a movement over the hump (so to speak). The place that he stands when using power that way, is well back from the front lines – a place where he effectively is bringing the mass of America onto the path laid out by the trailblazers. That is the valuable and necessary role of a President – to stay connected with the mass of people and lead them along paths that others have blazed. A President who goes out to blaze trails himself will lose touch with the masses and will be a failure, inevitably.

    Point-of-the-spear leadership always must come from the ground up. The real battle is always one to persuade our fellow citizens, not to heavy-handidly impose change from on high. The legal changes, the “official” victories of social movements must come at the moment when the mass of people are ready for them – maybe a bit ahead of that time, but not much.

    I find that a surprising number of people do not think very clearly about how change must happen in a democracy, and what the proper and possible roles of a president must be.

    I agree the title is eye-rolling, but it is true that Obama has handled gay issues magnificently.

  19. Hello World! says:

    What about James Buchannon?

  20. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB

    So what?

    McCain and Palin were talking war with Russia over Georgia. We launched a unilateral attack on Iraq, a nation that did not threaten us. So we too, engage in the threat of war, AND the reality of war. And history has shown that our cause is not always just.

    We are the world’s only superpower. The state of craven fear that much of the right seems to live in is really pathetic.

  21. @KariQ:

    The problem is that nearly all those things were doing grudingly, using backdoor methods that would not require him to actually come out in public support of the initatives, and only after they had become broadly accepted by the general public.

    There’s never been a case where he has taken a public stand in favor of an unpopular measure for the sake of defending gay rights. Which may just be being a smart poltician, but it’s not courageously or deserving of adulation.

    There is, for example, an executive order to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in federal contracting that’s been sitting on his desk for months now which can go into effect whenever he signs it. But instead of an action that would actually make a difference, all we get is him talking about how, now that it’s finally embraced by the majority of Americans, he has evolved to be in favor of same sex marriage.

    Maybe four years ago merely that announcement would have been courageous. But now it’s pretty thing gruel.

  22. Tano says:

    The problem is that nearly all those things were doing grudingly

    That is your personal interpretation of his psyche, and is worth nothing.

    using backdoor methods that would not require him to actually come out in public support of the initatives

    I don’t know what that could possibly mean. OF course his positions on these issues are well known.

    and only after they had become broadly accepted by the general public

    Not broadly – but only when there was a significant bolus of support. In other words, at precisely the moment when his support could do the most good.

    There’s never been a case where he has taken a public stand in favor of an unpopular measure for the sake of defending gay rights.

    Thank goodness. Such a stunt would be what one would expect from a politician who is either hopelessly naive or one interested only in his own image. If the president takes a stand for a proposal for which no work, or insufficient work has been done laying the groundwork out amongst the people, then the opposition will eviscerate him and he will have no substantial backup from amongst the people He will be defeated, and the issue will be lost for a generation.

    Which may just be being a smart poltician, but it’s not courageously or deserving of adulation.

    Only smart politicians actually accomplish anything, and they do by exercising their political smarts. That is most certainly worthy of adulation – one merely needs look at all the presidents in history who have earned adulation – NONE of them ever got too far ahead of the crowd. You have a totally unrealistic sense of how things are actually accomplished in this world.

  23. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    We are the only superpower. Our presence in the world restrains many hostile actions in the world. A weak President invites others to act where they wouldn’t in the face of a clear and strong foreign policy. All leaders are tested, so far Obama has been found to be a force many are not concerned over reckoning with. The world is a lot more peaceful when others scatter when the watchful eye of America turns toward them.

  24. KariQ says:

    So it’s not enough that he has signed legislation to improve the lives of gay people, it’s not enough that he has acted on his own to change rules to help guarantee rights, it’s not enough that he’s issued statements in support of gay rights, it’s not enough that he is on the right side of all these issues. He hasn’t done them in quite the right way or shown enough enthusiasm or has failed to do every conceivable thing to forward gay rights, therefore he’s a disappointment.

    It seems to me that he has done pretty much everything that can realistically be expected of him, especially given the other problems he faced coming into office and the necessity for a super-majority in the Senate to pass legislation.

    Once again, I have to wonder, what on earth were you expecting?

  25. Herb says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    “But now it’s pretty thing gruel.”

    Conceding you make some good points, I have to ask….

    If Obama’s announcement is “thin gruel,” then who’s got the steak? I’m genuinely curious about this. If Obama’s gay rights record isn’t “good enough,” then it seems to me that nearly anyone else would be an even bigger disappointment. No Republican would ever sign the executive order barring discrimination on sexual orientation, that much is certain.

    now that it’s finally embraced by the majority of Americans, he has evolved to be in favor of same sex marriage.

    One crucial thing you’re missing here. You know who else has evolved to be in favor of same sex marriage? The majority of Americans.

  26. Herb says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Ya know….

    When I was typing that comment, I kept thinking about the movie Schindler’s List, specifically about that scene at the end where Schindler falls to his knees in despair. “This car…ten people. This pin…two people. I could have saved more. I didn’t do enough.”

    This is where Stern responds, “You did so much,” and reminds him there will be generations because of what he did.

    Then you have to take into consideration how Schindler didn’t want to go broke saving a bunch of Jews. He was actually a war profiteer who sought to enrich himself with Jewish slave labor. But the guy evolved.

    Now I’m not saying that Obama is like Oskar Schindler or vice versa. I’m just saying that I don’t think I would criticize Schindler for not doing enough or evolving on the issue. I think gratitude and a pat on the back would be a more appropriate response.

  27. Hey Norm says:

    Obama has been running a marathon, not a sprint…as always.
    Quietly and effectively implementing significant change.
    From Sullivan’s article:

    “…But when you step back a little and assess the record of Obama on gay rights, you see, in fact, that this was not an aberration. It was an inevitable culmination of three years of work. He did this the way he always does: leading from behind and playing the long game…”

    We are all freer than we were 3 1/2 years ago.
    Coincidence? Maybe.
    Would we be in nearly the same place if McCain, or Romney, were President?

  28. Scott says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Bear minimum”? LOL!

  29. Hey Norm says:

    JKB types…

    “…All leaders are tested, so far Obama has been found to be a force many are not concerned over reckoning with…”

    I wonder if OBL, Quadaffi, al Awalki and the rest of al Queda leadership feel the same way?
    Add to that list Fahd al-Quso, who was a top al Queda leader in Yemen, and was killed last week by the CIA.
    Sorry JKB…as is usually the case, your ideology is not backed up by facts.
    Maybe you need to re-think your ideology?
    At least look up the Dunning-Kruger Effect. And think about it for a long time.

  30. Franklin says:

    Nothing to see here … just Newsweek trying to beat Time for the most controversial cover of the week.

  31. @KariQ:

    Once again, I have to wonder, what on earth were you expecting?

    To lead. To do the hardwork of changing public opinion, rather than waiting for other people to change public opinion and then taking the credit for it.

    @Herb:

    If Obama’s announcement is “thin gruel,” then who’s got the steak? I’m genuinely curious about this. If Obama’s gay rights record isn’t “good enough,” then it seems to me that nearly anyone else would be an even bigger disappointment. No Republican would ever sign the executive order barring discrimination on sexual orientation, that much is certain.

    Again this false dilemma that if the Republicans are worthy of condemnation, that the Democrats must be worthy of praise. “Obama stopped defending DOMA”. Well he shouldn’t be defending DOMA. Why should he be praised for doing what he should be doing, especially when in this case it’s literally doing nothing. Instead of just not defending it, why not start attacking it?

  32. Herb says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    “Why should he be praised for doing what he should be doing,”

    The same reason we reward children, prison inmates, and dogs for good behavior….to encourage more of it.

    If he sticks his neck out for the gay community and the response is “Not good enough,” I suspect the neck-sticking will soon cease. We might get shoulder-shrugging and “I’ll spend my energy elsewhere then.”

  33. Hey Norm says:

    @ Stormy…

    “…changing public opinion…”

    Me thinks ye doth expect too much.
    He campaigned on “Yes WE Can”.
    Not “Yes I Can”.

  34. @Herb:

    If he sticks his neck out for the gay community and the response is “Not good enough,”

    That’s my point though: he’s not sticking his neck out in terms of creating personal risk. He didn’t move to repeal DATA until two thirds of Americans were saying it should be repealed. He didn’t move to pass hate crimes legisltation until more than 70% of Americans were in favor of it. He didn’t come out in fave of same-sex marriage until more than 60% of Americans supported it.

    In each case he remained silent on the issue until a sizeable majority formed in favor of it. Then, and only then, did he act. That’s not sticking his neck out, that’s playing it safe.

  35. Hey Norm says:

    @ Stormy…

    “…That’s not sticking his neck out, that’s playing it safe…”

    No…it’s governing from the center.

  36. Herb says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    “In each case he remained silent on the issue until a sizeable majority formed in favor of it. Then, and only then, did he act. “

    I don’t see this as a problem actually. He’s the president, not the king. Sure, he sets some direction for state affairs, but we don’t have a top-down society and our whole political structure is set-up to be representative, not dictatorial.

    And really, endorsing gay marriage as a “safe” position? Rick Santorum’s over there saying gay marriage is a “potent weapon” to be used against Obama. Can’t be too safe with weapons pointed at you.

  37. @Herb:

    “You know who else has evolved to be in favor of same sex marriage? The majority of Americans.”

    Yes, when they talk to pollsters. No, when they actually go to the polls and vote one way or the other.

  38. Tano says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    He didn’t come out in fave of same-sex marriage until more than 60% of Americans supported it

    According to Gallup, only 50% support gay marriage, only 54% think gay relationships are moral, and only 63% think they should be legal.
    And, as Sensing mentions above, that is only when they talk to pollsters – in the voting booth, gay marriage has lost in 30 straight elections.

    You claim that Obama has only jumped on this bandwagon when the country was already convinced is utter baloney.

  39. @Herb:

    Rick Santorum’s over there saying gay marriage is a “potent weapon” to be used against Obama.

    Rick Santorum said he was going to be the Republican nominee too.

  40. Tano says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Oh, and the latest CBS/NYT poll shows public support for gay marriage at 38%, with 24% for civil unions and 33% for no recognition of any relationship.

    So please Stormy, could you point us to some polling that you have seen to show marriage support at 60%.

    Or perhaps you would care to rethink your argument?

  41. Curtis says:

    James Buchanan must be rolling over in his grave. If he wasn’t the first gay president, he was surely a gay president before Obama. The headline is as dumb as if in 150 years, they call another white guy the first black president.

  42. Hey Norm says:

    @ Curtis…
    And maybe Abe Lincoln?

    Sullivan’s defense of Obama and taking our time:
    http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/05/the-case-for-marriage-incrementalism-.html

  43. KariQ says:

    @Hey Norm:

    @ Stormy…

    “…changing public opinion…”

    Me thinks ye doth expect too much.
    He campaigned on “Yes WE Can”.
    Not “Yes I Can”.

    This.

    Stormy, it sounds like you wanted him to act as if he was elected president of the gay rights advancement association, rather than of the United States. I expected him to follow what FDR said: “I agree with you. Now make me do it.”

  44. KariQ says:

    I’m sorry. That sounds very sarcastic now that I read it over, and I didn’t mean it that way. I just meant to say that I think your expectations that he would “lead” and “change public opinion” on the issues of gay rights strike me as unrealistic expectations for a president, any president, but especially one who was dealing with an imploding economy.

    I agree with those who have said it is not the president’s job to change public opinion; that is the job of people who make these issues the center point of their lives, and make all other concerns secondary. I don’t expect that from a president. I don’t even want it. It’s enough that he has the right opinions and will respond when there is enough public support that he can change policy without being forced to change it back based on a lack of support for the position.

  45. @KariQ:

    That’s all fine, but then don’t claim to be Gay Moses. My issue with not with Obama’s handling of the issues specifically, only what I see as the disconnect between the level of effort and the level of adulation.

  46. grumpy realist says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Would you have preferred him to act like Newman, the mayor of San Francisco? The guy who pushed so far ahead of the pack on gay marriage that we’re still dealing with cleaning up after the backlash?

    What I see Obama’s job as doing is coming along, a little past the crest of the wave, and putting down a concrete barrier so firm that the anti-gay yahoos will never get rid of it.

  47. Herb says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    “My issue with not with Obama’s handling of the issues specifically, only what I see as the disconnect between the level of effort and the level of adulation.”

    So Andrew Sullivan is the problem then?

    If you follow Sullivan’s work, you’ll know that he gets tremendously passionate about various things at various times to the point of being almost hysterical. In the years I’ve been reading his work, he’s gone cuckoo over circumcision, the “Green Revolution” in Iran, the Paul Ryan plan, Ron Paul’s candidacy, Sarah Palin’s uterus. It can be annoying at times, but that’s Sullivan’s “thing.” It will pass, and when it does, your critique will lose its power if not fall away completely.