Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sullivan's Newsweek Cover Story (updated)

Update: The entire article is now online here.

I just had the privilege of reading Andrew Sullivan's cover story from the Newsweek edition that will be available tomorrow. Cool thing is that I have an ipad - and its available there today. So I'm going to give you a lead on it. Here's what I found to be the money quotes.

First of all, he mirrors the experience of E.J. Graff that I wrote about previously.
For gay Americans and their famliies, the emotional darkness of Tuesday night became a canvas on which Obama could paint a widening dawn. But I didn't expect it. Like many others, I braced myself for disappointment. And yet when I watched the interview, the tears came flooding. The moment reminded me of my own wedding day. I had figured it out in my head, but not my heart. And I was utterly unprepared for how psychologically transformative the moment would be. To have the President of the United States affirm my humanity - and the humanity of all gay Americans - was, unexpectedly, a watershed.
I'm starting to think that almost no one in the national media gets President Obama's long game the way Andrew Sullivan does these days. Remember his last cover story for Newsweek? He now applies that to what the President has accomplished by way of equal rights for GLBT.
But when you step back a little and assess the record of Obama on gay rights, you see, in fact, that this [his announcement on Wednesday] was not an aberration. It was an inevitable culmination of three years of work. He did this the way he always does: leading from behind and playing the long game. He learned from Clinton that tackling this issue up front would only backfire, especially in a recession. So he bided his time.
Sullivan goes on to chronicle President Obama's actions, including lifting the HIV travel ban, repealing DADT and instructing the DOJ to stop defending DOMA. And then Sullivan eats a little humble pie.
This, by any measure, is an astonishing pace of change in one presidential term. In four years Obama went from being JFK on civil rights to being LBJ: from giving uplifting speeches to acting in ways to make the inspiring words a reality. And he did so by co-opting the forces of resistance - like the military leadership. He fooled most of us much of the time, our outbursts often intemperate - I went on CNN at one point to say that the president had betrayed the gay community on the military ban. We snarked about the "fierce urgency of whenever." Our anger built. And sometimes I wonder if he goaded us into "making him do it." If he did, it worked.
He finishes by talking about how President Obama's own struggle for an identity mirrors what so many GLBT young people go through. And how, in his marriage to Michelle, "he created a kind of family he never had before, without ever leaving his real family behind"...something that roots him in being able to understand what marriage can mean to GLBT people.

I suggest that when this issue of Newsweek becomes available that you grab it and read the whole thing.  Its really quite wonderful to occasionally see someone in the media catch on to our President's long game.


  1. Whole thing's an overreach which doesn't really excite the Dem base, but which has just given the religious right a reason to go all in during this election no matter their aversion to Romney. Not feeling good about it, and Sullivan has no clue re: racial identity, no matter how much I like him, his analogy was not intelligent. I'm genuinely worried right now.


  2. --gn Don't be worried. If you are an Obama, work. Volunteer for the campaign. Donate $, make some phone calls, register some new voters. If you've done all of that, do some more.

    The religious right ain't worried, they are working. We ought to be working too.

    --Obama supporter

  3. The religious right are not enthused by Romney - never will be - actually - no-one is enthused by Romney. As usual the President timed it well - by November many other things will be the main issues but some on the left will at last stop whinging about him.

  4. Thanks Obama supporter for your comment. I've donated twice to PBO since his announcement, and I agree, doing tangible things to show support is more helpful than worry. I also take the second commenter's good point about the timing. Frankly, for most of the country, SSM is not a main issue *now.* There's a small group on the left (and I'd include myself in it) who are strongly SSM; that group dominates the media, but is not really a reflection of the left or Democratic base. A less small group on the right are extremely passionate about SSM, to the point at which their enthusiasm for the subject could get them to the polls in the event of ballot initiatives where indeed they otherwise could care less about Mitt Romney. If I were a SSM activist in Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, first order of business in terms of having PBO's back would be to fight tooth and nail to keep SSM off of November ballots.

    Re: Sullivan's piece--what I didn't like about it is that it implies that PBO's identity gives him the special ability to be progressive on gay issues. This is a strain of thought which I see used to constantly browbeat black people on GLBT issues, even though black people are literally just a few percentage points from whites when actually examining polling data. (fresh Pew data [please note that as the country has become progressively more liberal re: gay rights; the difference between black and white views was always <10 percentage points, which makes it incredibly suspect that black people are constantly trolled when gay rights issues hit the news]

    My two cents; I'm genuinely happy for people whose rights have been affirmed by PBO; just not as upbeat as usual. --gn