Will gay marriage be just the first of a series of societal issues that the Obama campaign will use to win in November? In this interview with Le Journal du Dimanche au Quotidien, French author, historian and America watcher François Durpaire asserts that Obama’s embrace of the issue of gay marriage betrays a carefully-calculated strategy by a political master to take advantage of emerging changes in American society.
From the Le Journal du Dimanche au Quotidien, here are some excerpts from the interview with François Durpaire:
leJDD: Why would the American president use the word “personal” to describe this right without also wanting to legalize it?
François Durpaire: He has a keen perception of societal issues: he is never very far out in front, even as he maintains himself slightly ahead. In 2008, he didn’t take this position, but was already nuanced on the question (he had declared himself in favor of “civil unions”). We must also remember that with his current position, he incurs no liability, since it is Congress, the Supreme Court and the states of the union that decide on gay marriage. The executive branch has no say in the subject. Nevertheless, the “personal” position of a sitting president six months from reelection is no trivial matter.
leJDD: But can voters understand this change of position?
François Durpaire: Barack Obama has cautiously evolved. Wednesday evening, he said he wasn’t at first strongly in favor of this right, but that his “entourage” convinced him. He spoke of his two daughters [stating “Malia and Sasha have friends whose parents are the same sex”] – and this is important: he meant “our children will understand, they will be living in another America.” That way of demonstrating evolution on issues like these is typical of American pragmatism.
leJDD: But can’t Republicans attack him over this change of position over a period of four years?
François Durpaire: Yes, except that it is better to argue about this when most people think the same thing! Barack Obama is no political fool: he senses the wind direction – the way in which society is beginning to evolve. If he had come out in favor of abolishing the death penalty, he would have been committing political suicide – because the population issue isn’t yet grappling with this issue.
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