Everyone knows that dolphins are very smart animals. So it's probably an insult to dolphins to refer to a politician who flip-flops when he realizes that he has made a tactical error as "Flipper."
So it is with Gov. Perry, whose stunningly stupid remarks about homosexual "marriage" have required him to flip-flop rather spectactularly.
Now, please, don't misunderstand this as an attempt to get involved with the 2012 election early. I despise the increasingly lengthy campaign-before-the-campaign. I have to admit that I probably wouldn't be noticing what silly things Perry is saying about the 10th amendment if he weren't a plausible GOP 2012 candidate. However, the real reason I'm blogging about it is that, as regular readers of W4 know, the 10th amendment, enumerated powers, and limited federal government are all concepts dear to my heart, and I hate to see them misused by ignorant people who have no idea what they are talking about, especially if this misuse is done by someone influential enough that he might confuse my fellow conservatives.
Perry's original remark went like this:
Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That's New York, and that's their business, and that's fine with me. That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.
Now, this is an incredibly stupid remark. Normally when one makes a comment in the imperative mood, directed to a presumed political audience, we can take it that one is making some sort of political allusion to some present issue. One would therefore infer from Perry's remark that conservatives are somehow urging us to do something contrary to the 10th amendment in the homosexual "marriage" debate and that Perry is disagreeing with them about this policy. Right?
Except that there is no such policy. There is nothing that conservatives are urging anyone to do that the most ardent 10th amendment hawk could object to on 10th amendment grounds. Nothing. Nada. Zero. DOMA isn't contrary to the 10th amendment. The attempt to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, obviously, is not contrary to the 10th amendment.
So what the deuce was Perry talking about? What was he urging conservatives to do or not to do in order to "stay out of [New York's] business"?
I doubt that he knew. It just sounded like a great line. To him or to somebody. Wow, what a gallant defender you are of states' rights. What integrity. What courage. What populism. "Stay out of their business." That's tellin' 'em, Gov. Perry.
Well, of course, there was quite a storm after Perry's remarks, and political opponents took advantage of them, so now he back-pedals. Perry resoundingly tells us that he is a strong defender of a marriage protection amendment. Now, Gov. Perry, that's great and all, and of course it isn't against the 10th amendment. But, unless you're still really ignorant, perhaps you realize that such an amendment would mean that New York's recognition of homosexuals as "married" would be nullified, right? You do know that, right? So, defenders of homosexual "marriage" presumably wouldn't think that an attempt to pass such an amendment counts as "staying out of New York's business." Hmmm.
In his attempt to save face, Perry makes the perfectly correct point that the rights of states are recognized by the amendment process itself. Quite right. How did you come to sound like you were so confused on that in your original remarks, Governor? More, he says that his original comment was merely a recognition of the present "state of law." But why make such a statement in order to call attention to the present "state of law"? Why express such a recognition at all? It's not as though conservatives are urging that federal marshals go out right now and arrest justices of the peace in New York for issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples!
Let's face it, "If you believe in the 10th amendment, stay out of their business" just does not sound like, "Unfortunately, we do not yet have a federal marriage amendment, and therefore what the legislators of New York have done is presently legal. This only underscores the urgency of passing a federal marriage amendment." No. Somehow, those just don't sound the same atall.
Of course, the mantra of states' rights has been a commonplace as a pseudo-argument against a federal marriage amendment (e.g., John Kerry used this argument), which Perry should have known.
But there's more. By some strange coincidence, Rudy Giuliani has been shooting off his mouth in words that sound remarkably similar to Perry's original remark, and at approximately the same time:
"I think the Republican Party would be well advised to get the heck out of people's bedrooms and let these things get decided by states," Giuliani said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." [snip] "I think it's wrong, but there are other things that I think are wrong that get decided by democratic vote," Giuliani told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
If you want to keep your social conservative credentials burnished, the last person you want to be sounding like is Rudy Giuliani.
Maybe Flipper really was smarter.