The 2010 midterm elections were a disaster for Americans who are not extremely wealthy or do not own corporations, and some of the fault lies with Democrats who decided to sit out the elections because they were disappointed that Barack Obama had not waved a magic wand and granted every group their wishes. Now that is has been nearly 5 full months with Republicans in charge of the House and many state legislatures and governors mansions, it would seem that wayward voters may have seen the disaster they had a part in causing by refusing to vote. However, there are still those within the “professional left” who are provoking a tiny segment of the population to speak out against the Obama Administration because the president is governing from the center and not acquiescing to the demands of special interest groups. Instead of using common sense and understanding that the president is not a monarch or a dictator, these disaffected sycophants are lashing out at the president and actively campaigning against their only chance at achieving their goals and desires.
For the past several months, Fire Dog Lake’s leader, Jane Hamsher, has used the case of Bradley Manning to demean President Obama by accusing the president of torturing the soldier who admitted he stole state secrets and passed them off to be published in the Wikileaks case. Hamsher is at it again and this time has attached herself to Lt. Dan Choi, the gay soldier who was excused from the military for exposing himself as a gay American, and is making outrageous claims that could help Republicans win the White House and Senate in the 2012 general election. It is no secret that Hamsher, who claims to be a stalwart liberal advocate, openly opposes the president. This week, Lt. Choi said that President Obama is the “worst president in U.S. history” because he has not made a royal decree giving gays the right to marry.
There is no argument that gays deserve the right to marry the person they love, and that it is patently unfair under the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights in the 14th Amendment that they are not allowed the same rights as heterosexual Americans. There have been great strides made in the two-and-a-half years since Barack Obama was inaugurated, and there are still many hurdles to clear, but change in America has always been painfully slow. It is especially difficult for new ideas and change when conservatives are attempting to go back in time to the 1950s and have convinced half of the population that progress is the work of Socialists who want to destroy America. Even with the opposition from the homophobes on the right, President Obama has worked to ensure the gay community is not discriminated against and although it isn’t perfect, much progress has been made.
President Obama supported ending the unfair DADT law that forced gays to hide their sexuality for fear of being kicked out of the military, and he directed the Justice Department to stop defending the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act that says marriage is defined as one man and one woman. Republicans have taken up the task of defending DOMA at the behest of the Religious Right and conservative Christians. So it is very strange that Lt. Choi, with urging and support from Jane Hamsher, calls President Obama the worst president in history when the alternative is a neo-conservative, homophobic slate of Republicans. Lt. Choi seems to have forgetten what Republicans have in store for the gay community if they control both houses of Congress and the White House.
If Lt. Choi is upset gays cannot marry, he will be devastated when Republicans pass a Constitutional Amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman. He may also be disappointed that most Republican presidential candidates want to reinstate DADT and will sign an executive order as one of their first acts if elected president. In many state legislatures, Republicans are already eliminating anti-discrimination laws in hiring that targets gays, and in some states there are proposals banning gays from working in schools. In many states, Republicans have expressed interest in making homosexuality a crime punishable with prison time, and in extreme cases, religious extremists will institute the death penalty because the bible says homosexuality is an abomination to god.
It has generally been accepted that between 3– 6 percent of Americans are gay, but a recent study shows the number may be as low as 1.7% and it begs the question; is Barack Obama the leader of all of America or should he just work for a small percentage of the population? Conventional wisdom would suggest that whoever is in the White House is president of the entire population, and with support for gays in the military barely over 50%, it would be political suicide to ignore more than half of the population’s concern for issues other than same-sex marriage. But that is the goal of people like Jane Hamsher, and her largely unsubstantiated campaign of hate against Barack Obama has reached a fevered pitch, and she’s using a tiny segment of the population to declare Obama a failure for not following her agenda.
In a recent blog post, Hamsher accused President Obama of putting Lt. Dan Choi on trial for protesting outside the gates of the White House. Earlier in the year, Hamsher accused the president of overseeing Bradley Manning’s torture as if the president was responsible for waterboarding the soldier in a military prison. There is not one shred of evidence that Manning underwent any torture, but Hamsher still promoted the story.
One can only hope that Lt. Choi understands that his best hope for equality for the gay community lies with President Obama and a Democratic controlled Congress, and thus far, President Obama has worked to help the 1.7% of the population that is gay by presiding over several gay-friendly measures. Lt. Choi and all gays should be aware that any of the Republican presidential hopefuls will reinstate DADT and vigorously defend DOMA in the courts until a Constitutional Amendment can be passed defining marriage as one man and one woman. That is the best case scenario if Republicans control Congress and the White House, and at the rate the Republicans are moving in the states, gays will be fortunate to escape prison for their sexual preference and if enough evangelical extremists are elected, they will be lucky to avoid persecution.
Lt. Choi is absolutely right in expecting and demanding the same rights as any other American, but he should ask himself if he thinks a Republican administration will be better for the gay community than President Obama. The president’s record on gay rights in 25 months is better than any other administration to date and he is slowly changing his stance on gay marriage. Choi also needs to understand that Obama is president to the entire country, and to expect the president to single out 1.7% of the population for special treatment when Republicans are destroying the economy, the middle class, and starving the poor and elderly is unrealistic.
Criticism and activism are important for democracy. No president should be immune from criticism, but there is a difference between accountability and ideological bridge burning. If some progressives truly believe that Obama is “the worst president ever,” wait until they get a load of President Romney, Bachmann, or Pawlenty.