Commentary: Courageous move or cynical political ploy?

The (Tacoma) News TribuneMay 19, 2012 

There they are again, back at the corner table speaking at volumes that only those who are too caffeinated or too confident could be comfortable with.

So it wasn’t hard to eavesdrop on Earnest Guy and Cynical Girl.

Earnest Guy: “Did you see the president on TV this week, saying he now supports same-sex marriage?”

Cynical Girl: “No. I have a job, remember? But I read about it.”

EG: “It was historic. The first sitting president to declare his support for marriage equality.”

CG: “Right, and just about the last Democrat to do so.”

EG: “Hey, don’t be so cynical. Oh wait, it’s who you are. OK, he’s a bit late. But this is the president, not some precinct committee person from Cathlamet. It was so courageous that I might actually work for his campaign now.”

CG: “Courageous? Or calculated?”

EG: “How can you say it was calculated? No one knows whether this will hurt his re-election chances or help them.”

CG: “Yeah, but it sure will help energize the base. Didn’t you just say you might work for his campaign now? Why not before?”

EG: “It must seemed like he was compromising too much. I haven’t had the same feeling of excitement, of hope, as I did in 2008.”

CG: “Having to actually govern does that to a guy.”

EG: “Hearing him describe how his feelings have evolved made me realize that he just might be the guy I voted for ... at least if he wins a second term. Then he won’t have to worry about the polls.”

CG: “He can be more flexible? Like he told the Russians on missile defense systems?”

EG: “Don’t believe everything you see on Fox News ... or anything.”

CG: “My source was The New York Times.”

EG: “Maybe he now supports marriage equality because it’s the right thing to do.”

CG: “Maybe. But polls show it will help him among young voters, and he needs them to win.”

EG: “But the same polls show it isn’t as popular with black voters, and he needs them just as much. It also will energize an important constituency for Mitt Romney. And no one knows how it will play with independents and swing voters. So it was hardly a political sure thing for the president.”

CG: “Unless he wants to divert attention from the economy.”

EG: “This is me rolling my eyes. Did you see that? This is me doing it again. Anyway, it reminded me of Gov. Chris Gregoire describing how she came to her position on marriage equality, how she evolved.”

CG: “Right, evolved. When the other side changes their mind, you accuse them of flip-flopping. When your side does it, they evolved.”

EG: “But she’s not running for re-election, so you can’t accuse her of playing politics.”

CG: “Sure, but now that she’s evolved, she thinks everyone needs to follow her same path and do so on her timetable.”

EG: “You have now set a personal best for cynicism.”

CG: “I won’t quit until I hold the world record.”

EG: “You just might get there when you can’t see a moral difference between my side and the other side.”

CG: “Neither the right nor the left has a monopoly on intolerance, my friend. Both condemn and ostracize people who have viewpoints different from their own. You call them bigots, they call you immoral. How about we debate an issue like same-sex marriage without first labeling those who disagree?”

EG: “I am very tolerant of other viewpoints. Unless the person is a bigot or a racist or a right-wing zealot or a war-monger.”

CG: “Your tolerance is awe-inspiring. You tolerate all viewpoints ... except when you don’t.”

EG: “Hey, I just don’t like people who try to impose their beliefs on me. Wait, did that guy at the counter just ask for a plastic bag? We need to ban those.”

CG: “I have to get back to work.”

EG: “Too bad. But at least it’s a beautiful day.”

CG: “I hear it might rain.”

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