Nobody had to tell me to go to the White House last night. Like many Washingtonians, around 11:30 pm, I just knew that’s where I needed to be, despite the chill and drizzle. Thousands showed up: a jubilant, if rowdy, group. Lots of chanting and car horn honking. You may have seen the videos or photos.
But I couldn’t be happy. Relieved that President Bush is on his way out and that there would be neither a President McCain or Vice President Palin to replace him. But no real joy. I must have looked a match to the chill and drizzle because I made the mistake of checking on the California Prop 8 outcome before leaving the house.
Now, I have supported President-elect Obama since the primaries. Bill Clinton was terrible on gay legislation — I couldn’t expect any better from his partner in politics — and the Republicans are beyond the pale. But the fact that Obama made a religious virtue of opposing same-sex marriage and promoted a second-class civil union meant that I could not celebrate him like so many others. Need anyone be reminded that his parents’ marriage was illegal in many states at the time of his birth?
So I made this bargain with myself: support him to the election, but be a careful critic on this and any other matter of policy that I think falls below his own values, or the welfare of the nation. (I think his strategy of never speaking constructively of the poor is another failure.)
I can’t do much about California, or the Mormons (save avoiding Utah) or the Knights of Columbus, but I can join in league with other Americans to put pressure on the President and the Congress. So I shall. If you’ll excuse the phrase, he gets no honeymoon from me.
Liberals need to press hard. The real work begins now.