Axelrod book: Obama lied about opposing gay marriage

Candidate Barack Obama lied about his views on gay marriage to get elected in 2008, writes David Axelrod, Obama's campaign advisor in 2008 and 2012.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
President Barack Obama walks with White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod after speaking at a town hall style meeting at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, Calif., March 18, 2009.

If Americans didn't know it already, David Axelrod is stating it for the record: President Obama lied about his opposition to gay marriage in the early years of his presidency.

That's according to Mr. Axelrod's new book, "Believer: My Forty Years in Politics," which, more than anything else, has been described as a paean to his star client, Barack Obama. 

Which is why, perhaps the book's biggest revelation – that Mr. Obama lied about his opposition to gay marriage – is really flattery disguised as criticism, at least the way Axelrod tells it.

"I'm just not very good at bull*******," Obama apparently told former White House adviser Axelrod, after an event in which he stated his apparent opposition to same-sex marriage, according to the book.

In fact, Obama was unabashedly in favor of same-sex marriage, but Axelrod says he counseled his boss to conceal his views for political reasons.

“Opposition to gay marriage was particularly strong in the black church, and as he ran for higher office, he grudgingly accepted the counsel of more pragmatic folks like me, and modified his position to support civil unions rather than marriage, which he would term a ‘sacred union,’ ” Axelrod wrote in the book.

Which is why, at an August 2008 campaign event at Saddleback Church, Obama told pastor Rick Warren, "I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. For me as a Christian, it is also a sacred union. God's in the mix."

When public opinion on the issue changed, so too did Obama's opinion – with the unwitting help of Vice President Joe Biden. Mr. Biden appeared on "Meet the Press" in May and expressed his support for same-sex marriage, before Obama publicly had. Some 48 hours after Biden's surprise statement, the president revealed his "personal evolution" on gay marriage.

That position was reinforced during his 2012 re-election campaign, when Obama finally openly supported same-sex marriage by saying he had undergone an “evolution” on the issue.

“Having prided himself on forthrightness, though, Obama never felt comfortable with his compromise and, no doubt, compromised position,” Axelrod wrote in "Believer."

As far as revelations go, this one landed with a thud.

Because of course, in an example of farcical political theater, for years, Americans played along with Obama on his not-so-secret secret.

As Time noted in a recent piece, when Obama ran for state senate in 1996, he said he wanted to legalize same-sex marriage.

In 2012, the Onion ran a withering satire on Obama's hypocrisy on the matter, titled "Obama Blasts Obama's Evasive Stance On Gay Marriage."

Late night comedians and spoof news, like "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," joked about Obama's attempts to conceal his true position.

And in 2012, when press secretary Jay Carney prevaricated, visibly uncomfortably, in response to questions about Obama's views on gay marriage, the press corps laughed openly.

In other words, as Hot Air put it, "Obama’s position [had] literally become a punchline."

From famous "flip-flopper" John Kerry, to John McCain and Obama, it's no surprise that politicians change their public positions on hot-button topics.

The sad surprise in all of this, however, is that Americans play along with a wink and a nod.

"An unspoken bargain is struck between the president and the nation in which he is expected to lie to the public and the public is expected to wink back in response," writes Hot Air's Noah Rothman. "This level of cynicism, the expectation that obviously our political leaders would mislead us about what they truly believe, cannot be healthy in the long run."

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