Mar
13
2009

NYT Rules for Democrats: Don't Annoy Republicans

The federal government has to decide what to do in a court case concerning same-sex partner benefits. Robert Pear sees this as a problem for Barack Obama in today's New York Times ("Obama on Spot Over a Benefit to Gay Couples"), explaining:

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama said he would "fight hard" for the rights of gay couples. As a senator, he sponsored legislation that would have provided health benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

Now, Mr. Obama is in a tough spot. If he supports the personnel office on denying benefits to the San Francisco court employees, he risks agitating liberal groups that helped him win election. If he supports the judges and challenges the marriage act, he risks alienating Republicans with whom he is seeking to work on economic, healthcare and numerous other matters.

It's hard to see the logic here; if Obama goes back on his campaign promise, that's a rather serious problem. (Pear's language–that he "risks agitating liberal groups"–is a rather odd way to describe a decision to deny basic rights to a class of people.)

No, the real problem–a familiar one for the media–is that if Obama keeps his campaign promise, he might alienate conservative Republicans by taking a position they disagree with. Isn't that what opposing political parties do? In the corporate media, Democrats are expected to trim their sails in order to please Republicans. It's hard to recall a Republican president facing similar warnings from the press.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.