Thinking two steps ahead? If Barack Obama loses the 2012 election, do you think he’s going to quit elective politics, serve on a series of corporate and foundation boards, write a best-selling children’s book on being a Dad and a Lugaresque memoir describing how Fox News and Peter Orszag betrayed him? I don’t. I think he’s going to run again, Grover Cleveland style. That casts possible additional (distant) light on today’s endorsement of same-sex marriage: It may or may not help Obama in 2012. But it would much more reliably likely help him in 2016, when public opinion can be expected to have shifted further in favor of this social innovation. It would certainly help him in the Democratic primaries. ….
To be sure: I’m not suggesting Obama would do anything that hurts his chances this year, or that he thinks he’s going to lose. I’m saying he’s a relatively young man and smart enough to take long-range contingencies into account. If a move is a) what he thinks is the right thing to do and b) close to a wash in the short term, why wouldn’t he consider that it’s also c) a political benefit in the long term?