It's no secret that things are not going well for the Obama campaign. The President has been forced to veer to the left on gay marriage, immigration and a host of issues to shore up his base. And even as unemployment is ticking ominously upward, gaffes and ill thought out statements on the economy—"the private sector's doing fine" and "you didn't build that"—are confirming the suspicions of independents and moderates that Obama really is the redistributionist radical that his critics have been warning about.
The fact remains that this is a center-right country and if you're a Democratic president who appears beholden to the left, you're in trouble. If you want to reassure voters, you have to establish your independence. Bill Clinton famously did this in 1992, when rapper Sister Souljah told the Washington Post in reference to the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, "If Black people kill Black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?" Clinton seized on her statement and condemned it in a speech to Jesse Jackson Sr.'s Rainbow Coalition saying, "If you took the words ‘white’ and ‘black,’ and you reversed them, you might think David Duke was giving that speech.” Was this a calculated moment? Perhaps, but Clinton was lauded for courageously speaking out. In the end, Clinton reassured centrist and right-leaning voters that he was not beholden to Democratic race hustlers at odds with the values of middle America.
Obama could really use a Sister Souljah moment of his own -- and he's got an opportunity for one staring him right in the face: The President should to ride to the defense of Chick-fil-A.
The fast food chain is run by a devout Christian family. The CEO of the organization has been lambasted by gay activists for a week now for expressing his support for the traditional biblical marriage model. Again, it's not news that the owners of Chick-fil-A are conservative Christians, and Cathy's private beliefs are largely irrelvant to his business -- which does not discriminate in who it serves or hires. In fact, the recent Chick-fil-A controversy has been a manufactured one, given that Cathy's quotes have been trumped-up and taken out of context.
However, that hasn't stopped the media from shrieking and liberal politicians from overreacting. The mayor of Boston wrote a letter telling the company not to open a restaurant in his city because of Cathy's beliefs. Earlier today, we learned a Chicago Alderman is trying to stop the restaurant from opening in his area, and Chicago Mayor and Obama's former Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel made supportive remarks about keeping the chain out of his city, saying Cathy's beliefs on marriage “are not Chicago values.” (In other news, Chicago politicans are lecturing others on "values," even as Rahmbo is working with anti-Semites.)
Politicians threatening to shut down a business based on the personal beliefs of its owner is an anti-American slap in the face to religious freedom, especially since the majority of the country agrees with Cathy on same-sex marriage. If Obama wants to reassure moderate voters, coming out with a strong—but calculated!—defense of the restaurant's right to do business is a no-brainer. Let's list the ways this would be good for Obama:
—He reassures socially conservative, blue collar "bitter clinger" Democrats that he's not afraid to take on the cultural elite and defend those who are being pilloried for adhering to their cultural and religious traditions. Rural Democrats in crucial electoral areas such as Western Pennsylvania and Southern Ohio were likely not reasured by the president's about face on same-sex marriage.
—Defending the Chick-fil-A CEO's right to express his religious beliefs without his business suffering legal consequences would blunt some of the criticism he's been getting from Catholics and evangelicals who are hopping mad over Obamacare's birth control and abortion mandates.
—He can defend Cathy without making his sudden same-sex marriage flip-flop seem even more disingenuous. All he has to say is, "You don't have to agree with Chick-fil-A's marriage views. You can speak out against them and refuse to patronize their restaurants. But it's not right to penalize them legally for their beliefs." Even a lot of staunch liberals would likely recognize the value of respecting the owners of Chick-fil-A's right to expression if the president forced them to set aside the hysteria for a moment.
—By coming out in support of Chick-fil-A, Obama could gently criticize Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Alderman for persecuting Chick-fil-A. That way, he can distance himself from the sleazy Chicago machine politics of his early career that many people still associate him with.
—He can use this to reinvigorate his campaign with a genuinely postive theme -- bringing people together. It's a natural thing for Obama to revisit. After all, it was exactly this theme of forging common ground among our diversity and shared heritage that made people like him in the first place. Anyone remember this speech? It was given eight years ago, but it seems awfully applicable to this moment:
The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into red states and blue states; red states for Republicans, blue states for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an "awesome God" in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
Obama's got a golden campaign opportunity here. The question is whether or not Obama is too dependent on gay campaign bundlers and far-left interest groups to stand up for Chick-fil-A.