By Lynn Woolley
May 10, 2012
President Barack Obama has passed on a perfect opportunity
to have a “Sister Souljah” moment – a time to split with his own party for the
good of the country. Just
imagine what could have happened.
Here’s what did happen.
Vice President Biden had taped an interview with David
Gregory for “Meet the Press,” and it aired on Sunday. Gregory pressed Mr. Biden on the issue of gay marriage,
eventually coaxing him to say he is comfortable with it. Biden went on to wax eloquent about the
old NBC series “Will & Grace” and how much it did to advance the cause of
The Vice President’s comments were characterized in some
news stories as a “gaffe.”
Remember, though, that one definition of “gaffe” is when a politician
accidentally tells the truth. And
with Biden on the record, the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan felt
empowered to take a similar stand. That caused a flurry of activity among the
The President’s spokesman, Jay Carney went through a hellish
news briefing during which normally sympathetic members of the White House
press corps grilled him like a choice porterhouse. Rapid-fire questions from CNN’s Jessica Yellin, NBC’s Chuck
Todd, CBS’s Norah O’Donnell and ABC’s Jake Tapper had Carney reeling. Tapper asked whether Obama was “still
evolving” with an eye toward the November elections. Carney, the official mouthpiece for the President, could not
state where his boss was standing on the issue.
So it came down to this: Obama’s aides sat him down in the Oval Office and read him
the riot act. The “evolving” had
to stop and the President had to throw aside the pretense that he had not made
up his mind. That led to the
quickly arranged interview with Robin Roberts on ABC during which the President
But what if he had?
What a moment it would have been if President Obama had told
Roberts that after much thought and due diligence, he had come to the
conclusion that marriage was indeed between a man and a woman. The President might have said that, as
a Christian, his belief in the Bible had persuaded him to go against his own
party’s accepted doctrine – even bucking the statements of his own vice
president and a major cabinet head.
It would have been Obama’s Sister Souljah moment.
In 1992, candidate Bill Clinton repudiated Sister Souljah
during a speech to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition. It was seen as a signal to independent voters that Clinton
was an independent thinker and was not beholden to Jackson or even to his own
But Obama stayed with the party line. Whatever leadership qualities he might
have demonstrated by going the other direction are now lost – and a close
election battle with Mitt Romney might go badly for him as well. To be fair,
Obama’s new position is just slightly worse than Mitt Romney’s. Romney seems OK with so-called “civil
unions,” which are nothing more than gay marriage without the political
On Tuesday, North Carolina became the 31st state
to add an amendment on marriage to its constitution. Minnesota and Maine have marriage issues on their ballots in
November. The American
people seem to understand that the traditional family is the bedrock of society
– even if the President of the United States does not.
The President has Joe Biden and his humongous mouth to thank
for this; remember, the President was content to “evolve” until around the 7th
of November. The Biden interview
forced his hand, and the President decided to remain a committed progressive. And so a potential game-changing
moment in the election of 2012 has been lost forever.
Lynn Woolley is a Texas-based
radio talk show host. Email him at