Did Obama pull a Harry Truman? (No.)

I’ve always admired Harry Truman for his ability to go forward with moral acts despite the fact that these acts were at odds with his personal prejudices.  Although he was a good old fashioned Southern anti-Semite, in 1948, at the UN, he voted for the State of Israel, because it was the right thing to do.  Likewise, even though he was a good old fashioned Southern racist, he authorized the military’s integration, because it was the right thing to do.

Obama is a self-avowed proponent of traditional marriage, yet he has just announced that a federal law upholding traditional marriage is unconstitutional.  Is this a Harry Truman moment?  Is he putting aside his own prejudices to do the right thing?

Sorry, but no, it’s not a Harry Truman moment.  You see, Harry Truman didn’t flim-flam voters by promising never to support a Jewish state or an integrated military, and then changing his mind.  These were issues that arose out of the blue, so to speak, that were not part of a national debate, and that had never required Truman to sell his position — any position — to the American public.  They were deeply personal decisions for him:  do the right thing at that moment, or do the prejudiced thing at that moment.  He chose the former course both times, marking him as an ethically brave man.

Obama, however, sold the public a bill of goods.  He campaigned as a proponent of traditional marriage.  Jeffrey Anderson summarizes nicely:

President Obama has now decided that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional. Thus, the Obama administration says that it will no longer defend that federal law in court. On the campaign trail, President Obama repeatedly asserted that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Now, the president has apparently decided that his own view, at least when codified as federal law, is unconstitutional.

Rather than appearing Truman-esque, Obama simply increases the perception that he is a con man.  At the very least, if he’s had this kind of change of heart, he should be explaining to the public the reasoning behind the change.  He’s not making any such noises, though, because there are no such noises to make.

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  • MacG

    What?  Have the Gays Unionized?

    I may be wrong but ius he not heading down the impeachment trail for not upholding the constitution? 

    Good role modeling here pick and choose wihich laws you want to enforce but then I see that here in Marin with San Rafael being a “Sanctuary” city where being here unlawifully is no reason to be arrested.

    I know what it is, this is one of the line items in the AG’s buget that was cut.  See he is shrinking hte deficit afterall…

    MacG

  • suek

    Ok…I don’t understand this.  Maybe I should, but I don’t.  Can the AG simply state that he thinks that a law is unconstitutional and then not defend it?  Isn’t the AG a mechanism of the EO, and thereby as the executor of the laws passed by the Legislative branch required by his office to defend those laws until such time as the SC declares them unconstitutional?  If this is legitimate, then why do we even need a supreme court?  Or do they simply represent the peoples voice when both the Legislative and Executive branches either fail to perceive that a particular law is unconstitutional or deliberately impose it on the people?
     
     
     
    Off topic warning to Zach.  Zach should _not_ check this link out.  Everybody else may find it pretty funny.
    http://www.saysuncle.com/2011/02/23/getting-back-at-tsa/#comments

  • Charles Martel

    Great link, suek. I think we’re seeing a huge backlash in this country. The buffoons running it need to be mocked and inconvenienced as much as possible.

  • SADIE

    Thank you suek. Nothing like a good ol’ tongue lashing in extra snark style.
     
    p.s. I was wondering about the legality of it as well. It’s a pattern of non-enforcement on our southern border and let’s not forget the new improved black panther party antics in Philly. The Zero is gearing up for 2012 with heavy emphasis on the ‘twelve’ much like the mad ‘madhi from Iran.

  • http://problemiserisa.blogspot.com/ Richard Johnston

    “At the very least, if he’s had this kind of change of heart, he should be explaining to the public the reasoning behind the change.  He’s not making any such noises, though, because there are no such noises to make.”

    I don’t know that this is necessarily a change of heart so much as a conclusion that one’s policy preferences may not be constitutional.  And this:

    http://metroweekly.com/poliglot/LETTER_-_BOEHNER.pdf
    seems pretty reasoned to me, whether I agree with it or not.  I wonder what you’d have the administration do — defend a statute it believes to be unconstitutional (at the risk of a defense which would be less zealous than is appropriate), or make its views public and allow others to step up and mount a spirited defense (a measure which, as I understand it, would be feasible under the circumstances).

    Note the decision to continue to enforce Section 3 pending a definitive judicial determination of constitutionality; this is just about what arguments the administration will present to a court.  Note as well the quibble is over standard of review (the administration has concluded heightened scrutiny is required, which it believes Section 3 would not survive), and the acknowledgement that, if review is indeed only for a rational basis, then there are reasoned arguments to be made in support of Section 3.

    I’m not an Obama fan, but in this case I think the administration has done the forthright thing by letting its views be known publicly so that others are on notice and may respond in a timely manner.  Plus which it is certainly possible to hold policy preferences while acknowledging the constitution would foreclose them.  You can believe marriage is between a man and a woman only and still also believe the force of law is unavailable to you to enforce that view.

  • SADIE

    Obama is a self-avowed proponent (rewrite) of himself.
    He is not just a con-man, he is the conduit for evil.

    Watch the video (3 minutes if you have the time).
    http://weaselzippers.us/2011/02/24/video-libya-being-praised-by-un-human-rights-council/

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