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Friday, July 11, 2003

Gay marriage will probably be one of the big hot-button issues in the 2004 election, thanks to the Supreme Court's ruling on sodomy laws. No major candidate wants to alienate the "family values" crowd by embracing the idea of gay marriage, but they don't want to offend gays either by coming out too strongly against it. Thus, we'll see a lot of awkward attempts to appeal to both groups. Howard Dean supported a civil-unions bill in Vermont, but he is reluctant to embrace "gay marriages." Bush declined to back Bill Frist's gay marriage amendment, asserting that marriage is between a man and a woman but saying that the amendment might not be "necessary yet." John Kerry tried to justify his opposition to gay marriage by saying that "marriage is for the purpose of procreation." As Michael Crowley points out for TNR Primary, this condemns couples who cannot or choose not to have children (a group that includes Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz).

I suspect that most candidates wish that the issue would go away. It's hard to explain why gay marriage should be banned without resorting to religious rhetoric, circular reasoning ("gay marriage is wrong because only male-female marriages are right"), and ridiculous assertions (see Kerry's above). But support for gay marriage is not considered to be a safe option, and even Dean's "civil unions" might be risky for him. The candidates will be forced to oppose gay marriage, and hope that nobody asks them any tough questions about their position.
--Posted at 1:16 PM | link

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Slate's William Saletan has announced that he is rooting for John Edwards. He says that this would give Bush a tougher fight than a Dean candidacy. He writes:

A Bush-Dean race would focus on familiar ideological differences. Republicans would paint Dean as a gay-friendly pacifist wimp; Democrats would paint Bush as a divisive, right-wing imperial president and corporate crony. A Bush-Edwards race would focus more on defining the mainstream. Like Clinton, Edwards refuses to accept the conventional border between Democrats and Republicans. He wants to move that border to the right, by redefining the spirit of capitalism and turning it against the GOP.

This is a familiar debate--do the Democrats have a better chance against Bush with a "centrist" or a "liberal"? But Dean isn't much more liberal than Edwards on economic issues, and he should be able to invoke the "spirit of capitalism" just as effectively as Edwards. The real difference between the two candidates is on foreign policy issues, primarily the war in Iraq. It is this issue that will, more than anything, decide the Democratic nomination. The war in Iraq is unlikely to fade as a major issue as long as American soldiers are there. American opinion on the war will determine whether it is prudent for Democrats to nominate the so-called "liberal" (Dean) or a "centrist" (Edwards or most of the rest).
--Posted at 3:48 PM | link

Hey all. I've been gone for a few days, but I should be blogging on a semi-regular basis again now.

Kos has Part V of "How They Can Win" today, starring Lieberman, if you're interested.
--Posted at 2:13 PM | link

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