“My View” from the May 10, 2012 edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
Let’s give three cheers for Joe Biden.
We love him for his uncanny way of committing gaffes, which is what they call it in Washington when a politician tells the truth.
That’s what Biden did Sunday on “Meet the Press,” when he essentially said gay marriage was fine by him. It raised a crescendo of pressure on Obama to hurry up and acknowledge his own “evolution” on this, and it prompted the president’s dramatic announcement yesterday that he, too, supports same-sex marriage.
Maybe it was all a set-up — just like the conspiratorial minded are saying — but I doubt it. My feeling is that sometimes, despite the best laid plans, stuff just happens — especially when Joe is around. And this was one of those times.
But whichever it is, all’s well that ends well, and this is a great ending. Even though it might turn politics even murkier between now and November, the moral step forward is unambiguous and good for the longer arc of justice.
One question does linger with me, though: Joe Biden voted for the Defense of Marriage Act before he apparently changed his mind. President Obama was for gay marriage — before he was against it — before he was for it.
Are these flip-flops or evolution? And how do we tell them apart?
Maybe when we agree with someone it’s evolution? And when we don’t … it’s hypocrisy?
Well, consistency is, as they say, the hobgoblin of little minds. Our thinking can change as the facts change, as ideas change, and as maturity sets in. And yes, that even applies to elected officials, whose every word gets retained on tape and thrown back at them. They can still reform their views, especially on fundamental issues like this one.
Maybe we should be more tolerant about these shifts. Or maybe it’s just that I agree with where the President came out so I want to be forgiving. The point is we heard the right answer yesterday — after evolutions, revolutions, changes in the national pulse and a little dash of Biden.
This has been a good moment for the cause of justice.
That’s “My view.”