It appears that, perhaps in an effort to sell more copies of his book Believer: My Forty Years in Politics, David Axelrod is throwing Barack Obama under the bus, at least with regard to same-sex marriage. According to David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement:
Political strategist David Axelrod reveals that even in 2008, as Barack Obama was running for president, the then-U.S. Senator from Illinois supported same-sex marriage, despite telling the nation -- and Pastor Rick Warren -- that he believed marriage is a religious institution.
Axelrod writes that Obama, just after stating his opposition to same-sex marriage at an event, told him, "I'm just not very good at bullshitting."
I haven't read the book, but the question has to be: Who else does Axelrod rat out, and on what other issues did Barack Obama lie to the American public in order to get elected? Those looking to continue to make Obama the man you can't trust will naturally ask, "Is he lying to us about something now?"
Despite the lie on same-sex marriage, which, to those in the LGBT community who pay attention, wasn't a secret, my support for the president remains unchanged. Having gone to the Democratic National Convention in 2008 as a Hillary Clinton delegate (which I hope to do again in 2016), when the time came, my support went to Obama, and I joined the LGBT Obama 2008 Committee. His victories over John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 have proven to have been the right thing for both the LGBT community and the nation.
As mentioned, those who follow politics closely knew of Obama's signature on a document stating that he supported marriage equality when he ran for the Illinois Senate in 1996. When he did his 2012 interview with Robin Roberts in which he talked about "evolving" on the issue, many, including me, talked about him having "revolved" on the issue instead.
But the reality is that there are still gays and lesbians in 13 states who can't get married and are suffering because of it. It can only be hoped that the Supreme Court will finally change this situation with their decision this term. Young men and women growing up in the years between 2008 and 2012 believed their president thought they shouldn't be allowed to marry and knew he blamed his religion for that position. Those young men and women believed their president didn't think they should have full and equal civil and human rights, which apparently wasn't the case.
In the years between 2008 and 2012, when Obama revolved on the issue, many in the LGBT community and our allies spent much time and capital, not to mention untold volumes of ink, pushing the president to come out for same-sex marriage. Now we know it was really only political posturing to him and Axelrod, who advised him on the issue. Perhaps if Obama had had some closer friends and advisors who were members of the LGBT community, there would have been a different timetable for when he publicly declared his support for same-sex marriage.
For me it's not being naïve about politics. I understand not speaking out on certain issues before their time. But this passage in Axelrod's book seems to have no purpose other than to try to sell more books, and it definitely could lead to questions about what Obama really thinks about a host of other issues. Is he telling the American people his true thoughts on women's rights, civil rights, religion? Did he lie about why he became a community organizer, and was that really all about politics too?
There should be no question that Barack Obama will go down in history as a good president. His accomplishments speak for themselves. He brought the nation back from the brink of economic disaster and has worked hard to bring American troops home and extricate us from two wars George W. Bush got us into. He has been a great president for the LGBT community.
So for me the question has to be why Axelrod felt it was his right to put this in his book. One would think that if he were respectful of Obama, he would have left this for the president to write about in his own memoir after he left office. Why would he give added fodder to those trying to stop all the good things the president is still trying to accomplish in the remaining two years of his term? We know even good politicians lie, but it usually isn't their good friends who highlight those lies; rather, that is left to their enemies.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post erroneously attributed the first quotation to Time. It should have been attributed to David Badash at The New Civil Rights Project. The post has been updated accordingly.