“I don’t even need to.”

I agree with almost everything in Andrew Sullivan’s entry titled “Obama’s Cowardice On Marriage”. Marriage equality is not a “far left” position when the core principle is considered. Any dismissal based on such a belief is at least partially an attempt to avoid uncomfortable analysis that might reach an “incorrect” outcome. I’m not as certain that it’s possible to minimize the federal implications of equal rights in favor of federalism given that our reality (14th Amendment, DOMA, etc.) is what it is. But Mr. Sullivan quickly gets to the point of why this “far left” charge is mistaken.

Still, I must qualify my agreement as incomplete because of this:

I should add that Obama’s position strikes me as transparently flimsy. … Marriage is the one issue where Obama is still politically afraid, intellectually vacuous, and a moral coward.

His position is transparently flimsy because he’s a politician and marriage is a “tough” that politicians don’t want to address as long as there are voters who treat equal, individual liberty with the same approach used by children being asked to eat foods they don’t like. I’m loathe to compare politicians to parents because they already act that way too often, but it fits here. Proper parenting involves telling the child that she must eat broccoli instead of the candy she wants. The same applies here. Politicians Leaders must tell voters that some parts of American life are not up for a vote because they involve more fundamental principles of individual liberty. Majoritarianism on issues of how many rights society should respect for certain groups is the nutritional equivalent to liberty of serving only M&M’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

But is this really the only issue where Obama is “politically afraid, intellectually vacuous, and a moral coward”? He is a politician, right? As I see it, pandering on free trade to win votes is hardly a sign of bravery, especially when it’s apparent that the only way he will back his pandering with action is if he handcuffs himself too tightly into the position to weasel out of it later. He wouldn’t pander if he trusted voters to support the difficult truth rather than the pleasant lie. And I trust that he understands the value of free trade and the hollowness of his anti-NAFTA rhetoric in Ohio.

As I’ve said before, I think Senator Obama is the least bad of the three two options we now have in this race. That’s not enough for me to vote for him, but I can acknowledge that my analysis suggests his superiority over Senator McCain as the next president. Still, we shouldn’t pretend that Obama is anything more than a politician until he demonstrates a longer string of statesmanship when it’s politically inconvenient.

Note: The title reference is an inside joke.