Obama’s ‘evolution’ is taking longer than Darwin’s

Dorian Davis Adjunct Journalism Professor, Marymount Manhattan College
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Steve Peoples of the Associated Press wrote over the long weekend that GOP candidates might have to wade into the gay marriage issue again now that New Hampshire is expected to take up a bill to repeal the state’s gay marriage law. But the bill might also prove an unwanted distraction for the White House, which is seeking to keep its fragmented coalition together in the face of record-low poll numbers for both Congress and the president. With the election fast approaching, President Obama could come under pressure to take a firmer stance on an issue that he’s dodged since running for president.

Just picture the scene at the White House:

Former White House adviser/future campaign adviser David Axelrod: Well, I’ll be damned if I’m going on MSNBC again and letting Lawrence O’Donnell tell me that he thinks that the president’s in favor of gay marriage but hedging on it out of political expediency! There’s got to be a less transparent word to use than “evolving” for his stance on marriage!

Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett: Well, let’s brainstorm.

White House spokesman Jay Carney: Okay, complete this sentence: “The president’s position on gay marriage is …”

Vice President Joe Biden: Incoherent.

Carney: No, we want something more upbeat.

Axelrod: And preferably something that hints at a change.

Biden: Flip-flopping.

Jarrett: What about “progressing”?

President Obama: I like “progressing” a lot.

Axelrod: It’ll offend the clingers.

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley: The who?

Axelrod: Guns and religion people. Clinton Dems. “The president’s progressing, but they’re not, etc.” The Republicans will drag out that San Francisco thing and call him an elitist again. And PPP already has his approval underwater in Connecticut now. Just picture what it’ll be like in Ohio once the RNC starts running “The president thinks you’re stupid” ads out there.

Jarrett: Good point.

Biden: So we should go more negative.

Carney: The president’s position is …

Biden: Fraudulent!

Carney: Well that’s a little extreme.

Jarrett: What about “changing”? That’s a neutral word.

Daley: And it goes with his campaign theme.

Axelrod: That one’s too blunt.

Carney: Yeah, we need something that says, “The president’s position might not change but get ready because it probably will.”

Obama: I want something that everybody can misinterpret.

Jarrett: Transitioning?

Axelrod: That could be seen as a tacit endorsement of Rupaul’s “Drag Race.”

Daley: Okay, what about …

Carney: The president’s position is …

Biden: Preposterous! You know, shock ’em with honesty!

Daley: Let’s go play with Bo, Joe.

Biden: You know, I almost kidnapped dogs for a living once. I was at the U of Delaware and saw one of those lost dog posters that offered a reward to whoever returned it. So I thought, “If I rent a van or something, I could grab three or four of these suckers at a time and make a fortune.” But it’s harder than it looks to catch one of those things, especially if the owner’s with it.

Axelrod: I’ll stick with “evolving” for now.

Peoples is right that Republicans will have to watch their tone if the New Hampshire debate gets traction. More than half the country now supports gay marriage, according to a recent poll. But Obama has more than just the White House at stake in the marriage battle; he has his credibility too. It’s no wonder that his people think that he’s better off sticking to euphemisms.

Dorian Davis is a former MTV HITS star turned libertarian writer. He’s been published in Business Week, The New York Daily News, XY & more. He’s an NYU graduate and National Journalism Center alum. He teaches journalism at Marymount Manhattan College.