It was one (fabulous, uplifting, inspiring) thing to watch the president of the United States come out for same-sex marriage on Wednesday. It was whole 'nother to see, within 24 hours of Barack Obama’s revelation, his campaign immediately begin to use Mitt Romney’s opposition to marriage equality against him in an online video. You might have expected the Obama folks to step back after the president’s announcement and say, “We’ve settled that, now let’s get back to talking about jobs and bin Laden.” They’ve done the opposite.“Mitt Romney: Backwards on Equality” is not the most stylish spot you’ll ever behold. But it effectively points out how far right Romney is on the issue, noting that he also opposes far less controversial civil unions—which even George W. Bush supported. The video also flashes a series of uncontroversial protections for gay couples that Romney would disallow. It all plays into a larger context for the campaign, which is working to paint Romney as a hardline reactionary—a cold, flinty right-winger who’s the polar opposite of the “Forward”-looking president.
Romney seems weirdly hell-bent on helping Obama define him just so. Today, afterThe Washington Post’s front-page story about Romney’s prep-school bullying of two gay classmates, the presumptive nominee went on Fox News Radio to respond. Here was a chance to turn the ugly story around—an opportunity for the candidate to apologize with heartfelt sincerity, and to speak out passionately against anti-gay bullying. He could have tried to make the case that while he’s anti-marriage equality, he’s not anti-gay. He could have gotten real and expressed true remorse. He did none of those obvious things. Instead, he non-apologized: “I did some dumb things, and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by it I obviously apologize, but overall, high-school years were a long time ago.” He claimed no memory of the harassment others remember vividly and shrugged it all off as "hijinks and pranks" that sometimes went too far.
Yep: Just the ticket when you’re running against an opponent who’s portraying you as backward, extreme—as, in many ways, a grown-up political bully out to make life miserable for Americans who aren’t posh enough for prep school.
So They Say
"I have the dubious distinction of being rated the poorest man in the Congress and the vice president assuming the office with the least assets. I hope they're referring to financial assets."
—Vice President Joe Biden
Daily Meme: Fun With Mitt
- Jason Horowitz's piece in the Washington Post proves that Mitt Romney is indeed a joker. Just not a very nice one.
- A former classmate called Romney's bullying “evil” and “like Lord of the Flies.”
- Romney battled an anti-bullying LGBT group while governor of Massachusetts.
- Turns out the school incident in the story wasn't Romney's first attack on hair.
- Jonathan Chait: “Perhaps that is the deeper fixation: It is not enough for Romney to have perfect hair. Others must have terrible hair.”
- Another Cranbrook student, albeit from a few decades later, speaks out on how the school has changed.
- And don't worry, folks: The Daily Caller is busy fact-checking the WaPo story.
- And Breitbart.com has gone into the Dreams of My Father archives for an outdated counterattack.
What We're Writing
- Garrett Epps: Is the presidential nomination process too democratic?
- Paul Waldman: Romney’s “hijinks” made a swell story, but does it really tell usanything about the man he is or the president he’d be?
What We're Reading
- Michael Tomasky: Are Republican super PACs risking ad overkill?
- After Tuesday’s anti-marriage-equality vote in North Carolina, some Democratswant to move the national convention away from Charlotte.
- What’s the problem with Obama’s super PAC?
- And what’s the matter with Americans Elect?
- Matthew Dowd argues that the 2004 election wasn’t swayed by anti-gay marriage initiatives.
- A handy chart documents Romney’s devolution on gay rights.
Poll of the Day
Republicans might hope that Obama’s stance on same-sex marriage will boost Romney’s standing with evangelical voters. But a new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute indicates that he doesn’t need much help: Romney leads among white evangelicals by almost 50 percentage points.