by Susan Stamper Brown
The mandate overwhelmingly voiced by voters in last year’s midterm elections to jump start the economy by creating jobs and lowering the deficit by reducing spending has not changed. A recent Rasmussen Poll found 58 percent of likely voters are even willing to accept a partial federal government shutdown until legislators find a way to cut spending. Rather than rolling up its sleeves and joining in the vital task at hand, the Obama administration did what most politicians do when faced with a tough decision: it changed the subject.
Backed into a corner by a growing majority of Americans who want to put a plug in the black hole that is the federal government, it only seems logical (or illogical depending on where you are standing in the room) that throwing out a bone to the masses would distract them long enough to regain footing and momentum.
But timing is everything and while the rest of the country is focused on fixing the economy, the president attempts to change the national conversation by suggesting the Department of Justice (DOJ) will no longer defend Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a move Harvard law professor Charles Fried describes as “incoherent.” Fried believes the law is unconstitutional, but says the DOJ is required to defend it because, “The reasonable argument is that, in terms of tradition and in terms of the view of the majority of people in the United States, marriage is between one man and one woman.”
For two years, President Obama has begrudgingly backed away from actively opposing DOMA on the grounds of being duty-bound to uphold the law. Imagine that. And now he reverses course while at the same time alienating even more of the electorate? Some analysts view the reversal as a means to win back votes within the gay rights movement, but at the same time the decision alienates African-American and Latino voters who overwhelmingly supported Obama in 2008, but also overwhelmingly support the traditional definition of marriage. In response to the administration coming out of the proverbial closet, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, recently warned that “Hispanics will vote vertically in 2012” – meaning on the basis of Biblical values.
Submitting to the direction of the wind is not leadership but the absence of it. And governing the country as some medieval oligarchy where only the chosen ones are deemed worthy to make decisions, will not end well, either. Regularly the administration engages in a culture war in some futile attempt to elevate unpopular controversial topics into moral mandates.
Previous administrations have also refused to defend laws they deemed unconstitutional. But it appears this case is unique because the Obama administration defended DOMA until last week. It is a dangerous precedent for a sitting president of our beloved republic to deem a law unconstitutional and, at will, declare as indefensible – a law duly passed by Congress and signed into law by a former president – and in one fell swoop damaging both the sanctity of marriage and the rule of law.
The seeming delayed response from conservatives should not be misconstrued as a change in political or moral climate, but rather evidence that they are focused on doing what they were sent to Washington to do: stop the spending that is destroying our economy. First things first.