A Plume for the Media Caucus?

TPM Reader BK thinks Obama’s marriage move will shore up critical elite media support …

I wanted to offer a few brief thoughts on some of the potential upside of Obama’s pro gay marriage declaration, apart from any moral, polling, or fundraising calculations. Let me preface this by saying that I’m allergic to any narratives about liberal media bias and “elite” media conspiracy. That said, I think this move inevitably shores up considerable sympathy (if not exactly “support”) and regains some luster with a demographic crucial in 2008: the media, maybe particularly television.

The move may very well turn off some swing voters across the country, but among media equal rights for gays and a general comfort with homosexuality quickly becoming settled issues. They will report this move as “politically risky” but almost never as potentially ethically wrong. Fox will seek for ways hint at it, but there’s a reason conservative media hasn’t been hitting back particularly hard: the Republican commentariat too tend to live and move in fairly cosmopolitan circles and are generally, on a personal level, much more comfortable with gays and gay rights than their base (loved seeing Shep Smith welcoming Obama to the new century). There is also a sense among younger voters (I am one), even those who fall short of being explicitly pro gay rights, that the way the issue is breaking historically is clear and inevitable. If Romney pushes back too hard he will come off as crusty and out of touch even to those younger voters who might otherwise tilt toward him. McCain was done in by this exact type of stigma.

One final point. Putting aside the extant put still hard to quantify percentage of voters turned off by Obama’s shift on the issue, his statements have and will continue to result in coverage for him featuring people genuinely and deeply proud of and moved by his stance. I can’t image that many of Romney’s supporters would ever day they’ve really been “proud of or moved by” their candidate. When Obama stands in this sort of lighting, Romney just can’t go toe to toe. This kind of staging and presentation can be more consequential than actual policy.

I don’t think I fully agree with this. But I do think there’s something to it. Dems are often on the wrong side of this dynamic when it comes to “getting serious about entitlements.” The elite media consensus is near inflexible on the proposition that you become ‘serious’ when you talk up axing Social Security or Medicare. And I think BK is right that this is close to a settled issue for this same cross section of the population.

I also think there is some vulnerability for Romney if he gets nudged into pushing the opposition too hard. Everybody gets that marriage equality is coming. Even people who see it as a terrible development. The shift of public opinion is undeniable.