"The Scouts are a great institution that are promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives. And I think nobody should be barred from that."
-- President Obama in an interview with CBS News explaining why he believes the Boy Scouts of America should allow gay adults to serve as leaders.
President Obama doesn’t have anything to do with the Boy Scouts of America, so what difference does it make that he thinks there ought to be openly gay scoutmasters?
Quite a lot, actually.
For the Scouts it means what had already been a painful and divisive debate will become worse: more political and more partisan. The prospect of a schism looms larger as the president’s supporters and opponents take sides. Gay activists may eventually get their way, but their victory could be a hollow one.
And for the president, using a pre-Super Bowl interview to pass judgment on the Scouts and their policy will have consequences too. Particularly when it comes to his laundry list of liberal political priorities.
Obama sees himself reborn as a progressive crusader, capitalizing on his re-election to cement a shift from center-right to center-left in American politics and culture. But when he does things like telling sports fans that gay men deserve equality of opportunity when it comes to leading Scout troops, the president is perhaps leaning forward a bit too much.
While the left may be thrilled to finally see the president return to being the impassioned activist they knew him to be, moderate Americans may recoil from a president who is always pushing, pushing, pushing.
On gun control, global warming, fast amnesty for illegal aliens, more taxes for the rich, more spending, etc., the activist president is seemingly everywhere talking about everything.
After “evolving” in glacially slow fashion for years on the subject of the proper rights and privileges for gay and lesbian Americans, Obama is now undergoing a furious evolutionary explosion.
Just eight months ago, the president was still publicly opposed to the idea of same-sex marriage. But after a trial balloon from Vice President Joe Biden, Obama came out to say that he was personally in favor of what proponents call “marriage equality.”
Obama’s current position, technically, is that it is a civil right for people to marry individuals of the same sex but that it is acceptable for state governments to deny that right. One assumes that the president’s evolution on the subject will continue beyond that constitutional paradox.
If, as is the view of most gay activists, sexual preference is on par with race as a characteristic (that is to say individuals are “born that way”) how could the first African-American president stand idly by and see gay rights infringed just because the voters of North Carolina or any of the dozens of other states with bans wanted to do so?
Now, seemingly everything that Obama does seems to touch on the subject of gay rights. His second inaugural address and even his immigration plan both included mentions of gay policy ambitions.
Obama’s evolution smacks of political calculation, with him waiting for public opinion to shift and, more importantly, for himself to be re-elected. But Power Play assumes that Obama really has changed his views about gay issues and the nature of same-sex attraction. Perhaps his public positions have been cynically rendered, but his enthusiasm for the subject now shows that this is something that matters very much to him.
When it comes to federal workers, civil-rights prosecutions and legislative priorities, Obama will stay on the march to treat individuals attracted to members of the same sex identically to opposite-sex-attracted individuals and as a protected class.
That’s all inside his purview as president and Obama has made it very clear that he intends to use his second term in service of the issues most dear to the American left, and gay issues are quite high on that list.
But short of asking his attorney general to sue the Scouts over the group’s exclusion of openly gay men from becoming scoutmasters, there’s not much Obama can do except try to lead public opinion against the organization as currently constituted.
So what’s the point of sharpening and politicizing the debate over gay scoutmasters?
Well, we know that Obama is prone to sharing his opinions on everything from the conduct of the Cambridge, Mass. Police to the rules of professional football, so perhaps this is just the return of Professor Obama, commentator.
Whatever his reason, though, gnawing on the subject of gay scoutmasters as fathers and sons across the land sat down for the big game on Super Bowl Sunday will certainly not do anything to diminish the Republican attack that the president is a hard-left ideologue.
Today, as Obama hits the road again in pursuit of gun control, or the next time he pushes for amnesty for illegal aliens or inveighs against global warming or any of the rest of his agenda, persuadable and moderate voters may have reason to believe the president has become what Republicans said he was all along.
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on FoxNews.com. Catch Chris Live online daily at 11:30amET at http:live.foxnews.com.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on FoxNews.com. Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.