Ringside Seat: Times, They Keep on Changin'

Just eight years ago, Republicans were crowing that the terrifying specter of gay people being allowed to marry was an electoral gold mine for them, persuading people to vote for the GOP and bringing their voters out to the polls in force. Things have changed a lot since then—same-sex marriage is now legal in nine states plus the District of Columbia, with more sure to follow, and most polls now show a majority of the public in favor of marriage equality. A few smart Republicans have acknowledged that their party is on the wrong side of history on this issue, and many assume that it will come around eventually. At which point, as they now do on issues of race, they'll claim they were on the right side all along.

But for now, there are only a few well-known Republicans publicly favoring same-sex marriage, and it's a good bet that any elected Republican who did would get herself a Tea Party primary challenge in short order. So it was something of a pleasant surprise when we learned that 75 prominent Republicans have signed on to a brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn California's Proposition 8, which outlawed gay marriage in the state. As the New York Times reported, among the signers were "Meg Whitman, who supported Proposition 8 when she ran for California governor; Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York; Stephen J. Hadley, a Bush national security adviser; Carlos Gutierrez, a commerce secretary to Mr. Bush; James B. Comey, a top Bush Justice Department official; David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director; and Deborah Pryce, a former member of the House Republican leadership from Ohio who is retired from Congress."

So how much progress is this? Well, you'll notice that only two of the names are sitting members of Congress, and many of the others are former administration officials, with the accent on the "former." It's one thing to take this position when you no longer need the favor of the Republican base in one fashion or another; it's quite something else to do so when you see much of your political career still ahead of you. That being said, few could have imagined such a thing a few years ago. And a few years from now, when support for marriage equality is a common Republican position, it'll almost seem like they never were as intractably opposed as they are today.

 

So They Say

"In America, you have a right to be stupid."

Secretary of State John Kerry, giving an address on free speech in Berlin

 

Daily Meme: LOUD NOISES

  • The sequester is hitting the fan on Friday and tensions are high and I DON'T KNOW WHAT WE'RE YELLING ABOUT ANYMORE.
  • And neither does The Washington Post's Ezra Klein, so we know things have gotten dire.
  • Obama's mad
  • Reid's mad.
  • Boehner's mad—and swearing .
  • Ron Johnson, in turn, is mad at Boehner.
  • States are mad, as they should be.
  • Democrats are mad. 
  • Republicans are confused.
  • The public is mad—especially at Republicans.
  • Bernanke's ... well, he's emoting as much as Bernankely possible—and giving Republicans a healthy dash of #realtalk.
  • So, if everyone's so mad we haven't stopped the sequester from torpedoing government spending, why has nothing been done? Well, solving the problem would make too much sense, that's why. And now, all the pundits are mad too! 
  • Jennifer Rubin is mad.
  • The Washington Times is mad.
  • The Wall Street Journal is going on about bunga-bunga politics.
  • In retrospect, everyone in American politics being mad at everyone else when it comes to the sequester seems pretty normal, not apocalyptic. The truly amazing thing would be if we could reach a point where LOUD NOISES, FISCAL CLIFF ALL THE TIME politics weren't the norm, as Bob Kuttner points out in our next issue.

What We're Writing

  • Jeremiah Goulka's got the second part of his series on fixing the Pentagon budget out today. The question: What is a threat, what are our threats, and how should we spend against them? The answer—the only real threats are climate change and pollution, and we should stop using our military to make them both worse.
  • Abby Rapoport reports on states' current dilemma over what to do with their surpluses.

What We're Reading

  • Football, elections, the Oscars—been there, done that for Nate Silver. Now, let him statistically analyze your failing relationship!
  • Kevin Roose has the ultimate sequester explainer for those who've been living under a rock blaring One Direction on their headphones.
  • When it comes to his super PAC, championing centrists always trumps championing gun control for Mike Bloomberg.
  • Ronald Reagan would have disapproved of Jennifer Rubin, or so says Pat Buchanan in his takedown of the Washington Post blogger.
  • David Cole on the warring impulses the Roberts Court will face in tomorrow's arguments over Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. 
  • Things are looking up for Chuck Hagel. After a set of unpleasant hearings with Senators Graham and McCain and twelve days of undignified stalling, the filibuster has been broken and his confirmation as the new Pentagon chief will be coming through ... just in time for the sequester.
  • Behold! The first and only time you will ever see Chuck Hagel smile.
  • Here is a post about Rick Perry and Guitar Hero.
  • The Voting Rights Act isn't the only issue getting its day in court this week. SCOTUS will be hearing Italian Color v. American Express on Wednesday, and a decision in favor of the credit card giant will spell Argo-winning-the-Oscar-level bad news for consumers. Good thing the Roberts court always champions the people over corporations.
  • Ezra Klein says yea, the sequester is bad, but an over-time $500 billion cut to defense categorically is not. We beefed up spending more for our last two wars than during either the Cold War or Vietnam, and as yet have no plans to wind it down. 
  • Aaron Swartz's suicide galvanized the Internet into action, and a sixty-five thousand strong petition on the White House site has prompted the president to direct federal agencies to release all taxpayer-funded research to the public within a year of publication. Chalk one up for freedom.

 

Poll of the Day

Pew has an encouraging poll for Democrats out today. As far as image goes, the public thinks that the GOP is more out of touch with the American people than the Democratic Party (by a 16-point margin), that the Republican Party is the more extreme (by 13 percentage points), that the Democrats are more open to change (by 19 percent), and that Republicans are looking out for the country's future less (by 6 points). Where the GOP wins? More Americans think they have "strong principles."

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