Axelrod book: Obama lied about opposing gay marriage(Read article summary)
Candidate Barack Obama lied about his views on gay marriage to get elected in 2008, writes David Axelrod, Obama's campaign advisor in 2008 and 2012.
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
That's according to Mr. Axelrod's new book, "Believer: My Forty Years in Politics," which, more than anything else, has been described as a paean to his star client, Barack Obama.
Which is why, perhaps the book's biggest revelation – that Mr. Obama lied about his opposition to gay marriage – is really flattery disguised as criticism, at least the way Axelrod tells it.
"I'm just not very good at bull*******," Obama apparently told former White House adviser Axelrod, after an event in which he stated his apparent opposition to same-sex marriage, according to the book.
In fact, Obama was unabashedly in favor of same-sex marriage, but Axelrod says he counseled his boss to conceal his views for political reasons.
“Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a ‘sacred union,’ ” Axelrod wrote in the book.
Which is why, at an August 2008 campaign event at Saddleback Church, Obama told pastor Rick Warren, "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix."
When public opinion on the issue changed, so too did Obama's opinion – with the unwitting help of Vice President Joe Biden. Mr. Biden appeared on "Meet the Press" in May and expressed his support for same-sex marriage, before Obama publicly had. Some 48 hours after Biden's surprise statement, the president revealed his "personal evolution" on gay marriage.
That position was reinforced during his 2012 re-election campaign, when Obama finally openly supported same-sex marriage by saying he had undergone an “evolution” on the issue.
“Having prided himself on forthrightness, though, Obama never felt comfortable with his compromise and, no doubt, compromised position,” Axelrod wrote in "Believer."
As far as revelations go, this one landed with a thud.
Because of course, in an example of farcical political theater, for years, Americans played along with Obama on his not-so-secret secret.
As Time noted in a recent piece, when Obama ran for state senate in 1996, he said he wanted to legalize same-sex marriage.
In 2012, the Onion ran a withering satire on Obama's hypocrisy on the matter, titled "Obama Blasts Obama's Evasive Stance On Gay Marriage."
Late night comedians and spoof news, like "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," joked about Obama's attempts to conceal his true position.
And in 2012, when press secretary Jay Carney prevaricated, visibly uncomfortably, in response to questions about Obama's views on gay marriage, the press corps laughed openly.
In other words, as Hot Air put it, "Obama’s position [had] literally become a punchline."
From famous "flip-flopper" John Kerry, to John McCain and Obama, it's no surprise that politicians change their public positions on hot-button topics.
The sad surprise in all of this, however, is that Americans play along with a wink and a nod.
"An unspoken bargain is struck between the president and the nation in which he is expected to lie to the public and the public is expected to wink back in response," writes Hot Air's Noah Rothman. "This level of cynicism, the expectation that obviously our political leaders would mislead us about what they truly believe, cannot be healthy in the long run."