‘Best week ever’: Did Obama almost forget gay marriage?

At a press conference Tuesday, President Obama reflected on last week: trade legislation, Obamacare, Charleston, the Confederate flag. Same-sex marriage seemed forgotten. But at the last minute, it wasn't. 

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
President Obama smiles after being asked whether the events of the past few days constituted his 'best week,' as he and Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday.

At his press conference Tuesday with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, President Obama was asked the softest of softball questions: What will he do with all the political capital he built up last week, dubbed by some his "best week ever"?  

You know, Jim Acosta of CNN reminded helpfully, the Supreme Court rulings on Obamacare and gay marriage, plus his warmly received speech in Charleston, S.C. 

Ever the good husband and father, Mr. Obama started with his family.  

“Now my best week, I will tell you, was marrying Michelle,” he smiled. “That was a really good week. Malia and Sasha being born, excellent weeks.”

Obama then went to his second biggest passion, sports. “There was a game where I scored 27 points,” he said to laughter. “That was a pretty good week.”

Then he got serious.

“I think last week was gratifying because, No. 1, we were able to get a package of trade legislation that I believe will serve the American people, American workers, and American businesses well, going into the future,” Obama said.

On the Affordable Care Act, the president did a reprise of his remarks from the Rose Garden last Thursday, after the Supreme Court decision upholding the federal subsidies nationwide. Obama went through what he considers the successes of the health-care law, which he said has “worked better, cost less than even supporters anticipated.”

Next, the president moved on to Charleston, where on Friday he eulogized the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the minister from Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church slain the previous week with eight others by a young white supremacist, who investigators say has confessed to the killings.

“My remarks in Charleston were heartfelt,” Obama said Tuesday at the White House. “It wasn't a celebration. It was, I think, a reflection on the consistent challenge of race in this country and how we can find a path towards a better way. And I was gratified to see not only the incredible response of the families who have been affected by this tragedy, but by the response of people like Governor [Nikki] Haley in how they viewed the issue of the Confederate flag.” 

Last week, Obama said, was “a culmination of a lot of work that we’ve been doing since I came into office.”

Then the president looked ahead to how he might spend “whatever political capital that I’ve built up.” He talked about his plan, announced Tuesday, to extend overtime pay to some 5 million workers. He talked about infrastructure, criminal justice reform, job training, free community college.

“I might see if we can make next week even better,” he mused.

And have another press conference? He was asked.

“I love press conferences. It's my press team that's always holding me back,” Obama quipped. “I want to talk to you guys every day.”

“Sorry, Josh,” he said to press secretary Josh Earnest, seated in the front row of the ornate East Room of the White House.

End of answer – and no mention of same-sex marriage. Last Friday was kind of a big deal, to paraphrase Vice President Joe Biden, when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a nationwide right to wed.

Of course, Obama was thrilled by the ruling. He told us so in his Rose Garden remarks on Friday. But when given a gold-plated invitation to glory once again in a highlight of his presidency, he went silent.

We were sure it was just an oversight, but boy, would he catch heck for not saying anything.

President Rousseff finished her response to the final question. The press conference appeared to be ending. Then, Obama piped up.

“Jim, about last week,” the president interjected. “I did not have a chance to comment on how good the White House looked in rainbow colors.”
 
“That made it a really good week,” Obama said. “To see people gathered in an evening outside on a beautiful summer night and to feel whole and to feel accepted and to feel that they had a right to love, that was pretty cool.”

“And the only bad part about it was I couldn't go out and peek at it myself because then I would have had to clear out all the people, or the Secret Service would have. So I could only reflect on it from a television screen. That's a moment worth savoring.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.