Did you catch this? I didn’t. It’s from the President’s Father’s Day proclamation, not generally a source of breaking news.
Nurturing families come in many forms, and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a step father, a grandfather, or caring guardian.
Pure Obama: strong but unemphatic. “Two fathers” dropped, seemingly casually, into the middle of a list, and suddenly the President is officially recognizing the fact that gay couples, too, raise children, and sometimes do it well.
Steve Benen makes fun of the Christian Right for going off about this, but it seems to me that the American Family Association has gauged its importance more accurately than Steve has. “Two innocuous words”? Not in the context of the gay-marriage debate.
But what strikes me hardest about this is that I’m only hearing about it via Obama’s right-wing critics. The Victory Fund, which sends out a press release every time a lesbian is elected dogcatcher, hasn’t bothered to mention that the President decided to use Father’s Day to reach out to gay couples. As far as I can find, none of the bloggers who have savaged Obama as a coward and a closet homophobe for not endorsing gay marriage and going slow on DADT and inviting Rick Warren to speak at the Inaugural bothered to notice this completely unforced, and predictably costly, pro-gay gesture.
As Machiavelli says, the problem with trying to make change is that you have strong enemies and lukewarm allies. But it seems to me that there’s something else at work here: progressives, who ever since Vietnam have been somewhat abashed about expressing patriotism, also tend to feel a little bit queasy when they hear a President being praised. Maybe it’s just grass-is-greener envy, but I think the right wing does a better job of backing its allies in office. Sometimes – as with Nixon and Bush II – that comes back to bit them. But mostly it helps them get their way.