The Morning Joe gang continued to give President Obama a hard time Tuesday for his “evolving” position on gay marriage.
In the wake of Vice President Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s statements – the latter on Monday’s Morning Joe – that they’re fine with same-sex nuptials, the White House continues to say that, for now at least, the president favors only civil unions.
The hedging isn’t doing much to make him look like a decisive leader. “You have the president sounding very much like Mitt Romney,” said Joe Scarborough. “He’s flip-flopping on this issue, floundering around, looking very bad.”
Katty Kay of the BBC agreed. “I think it’s one of those moments where voters look at that and say, come on, treat me like a grownup here,” she said. “How long can a position stay an evolving position? At some point you know what you feel on this. And I think the public has a pretty good sense of what the president really feels on this, and so if he’s not saying what he feels, it looks cynical.”
Sam Stein of the Huffington Post said Obama’s caution is beginning to hurt him politically. “Yesterday felt a little different, in that it was no longer about where does he stand on a specific issue, it was about him as a character, and whether or not he was being too cute by half in dancing around this issue,” Stein said.
That could force Team Obama’s hand in the coming months, Stein added. “The more that that type of pressure falls on the president, the more the White House will have to do something publicly before either the convention or the election,” he said. “And that wasn’t the case a couple weeks ago.”
Mark McKinnon, a Republican consultant who recently helped found a group to raise concern about the national debt and other issues, said Obama’s not doing his legacy any favors by failing to embrace gay marriage.
“Our grand-children are going to look at this and say, are you kidding me? This was really an issue?” he said. “Of all the issues we’re talking about today, this is the one issue that’s absolutely guaranteed in the Constitution. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Still, that doesn’t make it a slam-dunk for a president fighting for re-election. Stein said he’d talked Monday to a high-ranking Democratic official, who told him the Obama camp is concerned about North Carolina, a socially conservative state he won narrowly in 2008 and wants to hold.
“The fear is that you go out there on a somewhat of a limb [by supporting gay marriage], and then all of a sudden you’re attacked in North Carolina,” Stein said he was told.
Scarborough agreed. “I don’t think there’s any doubt: If the president comes out in support of gay marriage, he loses North Carolina.”