I can’t say that I think Greg Sargent is totally wrong about the President’s decision to sandbag on an executive order on preventing federal contractors from discriminating against people based on gender or sexual orientation. He’s right when he says the White House is being too cute by half here.
There’s no denying that Obama and his advisers have a very good overall record on gay rights. But on this issue, and on gay marriage — two hugely important topics to the gay community — there’s too little clarity and too much of a whiff of excuse-making and political calculation.
Obama is trapped in a difficult dynamic that is in some ways the product of having done the right thing in other areas involving gay rights. Because of his real accomplishments in those areas, gay advocates are fully convinced he really believes in full equality for gay and lesbian Americans — and only grow angrier and more impatient when he hedges or equivocates on key issues. I can see why White House advisers would find this dynamic frustrating, but the simple truth is that it isn’t going away until he stops doing it.
The problem is the President’s slow and cautious (if not downright pragmatic) approach is A) it’s slow and frustrating, B) it works in the end. People recognize A and forget B completely, it seems. To his credit, Sargent does admit the whole B thing does exist. But that’s the way it has to go with the political dynamic, and it’s not like the LGBT community in Washington hasn’t played politics to its own advantage, either.
There’s also the very real problem with executive orders: they can get rescinded by future presidents. The next time a Teapublican gets into power, a lot of stuff is going away. This close to an election, that’s a factor. I don’t like it. I admit it exists. Going bugnuts over it won’t change much, either. President Obama will get attacked by the right on LGBT stuff regardless of what he does. He’ll also get attacked by a certain section of the left for the same reason. That’s politics.
The long arc does bend but it’s a pain in the ass to move some times.