Obama Decides to Pander to the Haters

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Yesterday the Obama administration told gay rights advocates that it wouldn’t be signing an executive order to ban LGBT discrimination among federal contractors. Today press secretary Jay Carney was peppered with questions about this, and eventually settled into an awkward set of rote talking points about Obama preferring to address LGBT discrimination via legislation rather than executive order. The Washington Post reports:

The dispute opened up an unexpected election-year rift between the president and a loyal political constituency that has scored historic victories from his White House — namely the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and the administration’s decision to stop advocating for the Defense of Marriage Act.

….In recent weeks activists began to worry that the White House might opt against approval. Democratic strategists are wary of any new policies that could be attacked by conservatives as anti-business, and stepping out on gay rights in the heat of an election campaign risks handing likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney a rallying point to energize the evangelicals he has thus far struggled to inspire.

Advocates were informed of Obama’s decision in a tense private meeting Wednesday with top aides Valerie Jarrett and Cecilia Munoz. The officials said the president would not sign the order “at this time” but was instead focused on pushing for passage of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, according to several attendees.

This is hard to make sense of. The administration’s excuses for not signing the executive order are pretty transparently preposterous. They know perfectly well there’s no chance of passing ENDA with Republicans in control of the House, so a legislative solution is off the table. And it’s not likely they’re seriously worried about lawsuits either.

This leaves only craven political calculation as an explanation. And that’s puzzling too. Sure, it’s an election year, and everyone gets craven during election years. But really, how many evangelicals are there who are (a) likely to get energized by an executive order banning LGBT discrimination but (b) haven’t already been energized by Obama’s repeal of DADT and his refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act? I guess there might be a few, but it’s got to be damn few. If hating the gay is your hot button, you probably already loathe Obama about as much as you’re ever going to.

So not just craven, but really, really craven. Obama probably risked losing literally dozens of votes over this. What a wuss.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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