"The reason that we have to talk about and deal with these divisions is because we get distracted every political season and election cycle by these divisions. And then we end up ignoring these big problems. Think about what these last few election cycles have been about. We argue about immigration, but we don't try to solve the immigration problem. It's an argument that is all about people's passions instead of trying to figure it out. We argue about gay marriage. In the meantime the planet is...potentially being destroyed. We've got a war that is bankrupting us. And we're going to argue about gay marriage? (applause) I mean, that...doesn't make any sense."
--Barack Obama in Medford, Oregon, last week (as quoted in Towleroad)
I don't get what Senator Obama is getting at here.
Is he saying marriage in general is not important or gay marriage in particular is not important? And why does he contrast being for or against gay marriage with trying to solve the problem of the planet's potential destruction? And why, oh why, is a gay issue being invoked here as the equivalent to the punch-line of a joke?
To be sure, immigration and gay marriage are old warhorses of right-wing American politics--sure to galvanize a lot of conservative and MOTR panic, without seriously addressing any underlying problems of, say, for instance, injustice. Obama makes the point clearly enough in his first remark--raising passions about immigrants without seriously examining the underlying problems of the issue--how reprehensible.
But then why doesn't he strike the same balance in his next remark? Of course, arguing about gay marriage looks like nonsense against the need to save the entire planet from being destroyed; but whether this is destruction by war, global warming, or gay marriage, he does not make clear.
(And 50 years ago didn't waffling liberals claim that civil rights issues were a mere piffle compared to the threat of the atomic bomb and the global spread of communism?)
Why doesn't he say, "We argue about gay marriage, but we don't try to solve the problem of gay inequality"? Wouldn't that have been the more reasonable balance to his preceding remark?
But what if he did mean marriage in general is politically unimportant? Do you think the Oregonians who applauded his remark thought that was what he meant?