As our not-so-beloved president goes on live TV to campaign against the rights of millions of Americans, Los Angeles Times columnist Ronald Brownstein identifies what's really happening in this week's Senate debate over gay marriage.
This issue isn't morality or marriage, he says. It's the time-honored tradition of turning a group of Americans into scapegoats so that politicians can goad an obsessed group of voters into turning out at the polls. In 2004, that upset minority -- religious radicals -- gave just enough of a boost to push Republicans into the win column.
The key to understanding that the Federal Marriage Amendment is just smoke and mirrors is the fact that the proposed ban on same-sex marriage doesn't have a chance of passing. Brownstein notes:
Now many inSo far this kind of strategy has helped the GOP, but Brownstein thinks it might come with a cost this year.
believe the essence of politics is provoking confrontations over issues that have little chance of becoming law but a high probability of dividing the country. Washington
But like so much else in contemporary politics, the Senate vote isn't designed to produce a law; it's intended to pick a fight. The White House and Senate GOP leadership are betting that a noisy confrontation over gay marriage will encourage turnout this November from conservative voters -- many of whom, polls show, are discouraged over President Bush's second term.
That strategy may help Republicans in some red states this year. But it could also deepen the image of intolerance hurting the GOP in many white-collar suburbs outside the South.
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