Friday, March 15, 2013

Portman's Opportunism

Longtime readers of WMD know that my position on same sex marriage is that I oppose it while favoring civil unions. The reason I take the position that I do is that while I am a firm believer in the rights of individuals, I am also a staunch supporter of religious rights as well. Personally, I don't think government should be in the marriage business at all. I don't think there should be a "marriage penalty" when it comes to taxation. I don't believe that there should be a legal advantage or disadvantage to marriage. I think if two people want to establish a legal and binding relationship between themselves, that is okay by me...but don't call it marriage. Marriage has a religious connotation that government has absolutely no say in determining or establishing.

All of that brings us to Rob Portman's latest stunt to increase his name recognition and favorable polling numbers amongst a certain segment of the population. It is no secret among those who have followed Portman's career for any length of time that Rob doesn't do anything that he doesn't think will benefit his career. In fact, if it weren't for the fact that Will Portman went to Twitter to proclaim how proud he was of his father, I'm not entirely sure I would 100% believe that Rob has a gay son. That is just how opportunistic Portman is about his career, in my opinion. But don't take my word for it, here is what Michael Turk had to say:
In 2004 Portman supported a Constitutional ban on SSM; not just a ban against it. He wanted it enshrined in the Constitution. He has defended DOMA. In 2009, he opposed a law that would have allowed gay couples in DC the right to adopt. He has actively opposed gay rights for a decade at least. But then there is this:

“[W]hat happened to me is really personal. I mean, I hadn’t thought a lot about this issue. Again, my focus has been on other issues over my public policy career.”

Huh? You were that active in voting on an issue you really hadn’t thought a lot about? So your default position on issues you don’t think about is to deny people rights? Really?

Reconciling his past opposition to SSM and his current conversion is almost impossible. His explanation is that his son Will came out two years ago and that profoundly changed his mind.

But less than two years ago, at a speech to the University of Michigan law school, a full third of the school got up and walked out of his speech in protest of his positions on gay rights. That was, if his timeframe is to be accepted, after his son came out.

Granted I am a reliable cynic, but it seems to me that Portman, who is bandied about as a potential POTUS contender in 2016, is seeing the writing on the wall.
Turk goes on to describe some recent polling which states that nearly 70% of Republicans oppose gay marriage but notes that there is a strategy in which Portman's new found position on the subject could work to his advantage in a large field of candidates for President in the 2016 cycle.

Mark my words, THAT is what THIS is about. Portman sees what he thinks is the writing on the wall and wants to jump on that particular bandwagon and try to make it seem as if he is leading the charge. My guess is that once the "excitement" of this little media splash is over, the issue will go away for Rob until he sees another opportunity to exploit it for political gain.

The biggest problem that I have with Portman is that it appears there is nothing he won't sacrifice to the political gods if he can be seen to find some gain in doing so. What's next? What if little Sally decides to have an abortion? Can we count on Rob to not change his mind on being pro-life? What if his wife Jane, who used to work for Tom Daschle, decides that guns are icky? Can we count on Rob Portman's Second Amendment convictions?

These are all terrible things to contemplate, but since we have no idea who Rob Portman is going to be today let alone tomorrow, we HAVE to ask these questions. And more importantly, we HAVE to get answers to them. Portman has never lost an election, but I think he is going to find himself facing a serious challenge in his own backyard (Southwestern Ohio) if he can't convince people that he has principles and values that aren't subject to change due to personal situations. We don't elect leaders to represent themselves. We send them to Washington, Columbus, County and City Halls to represent US and OUR beliefs, not theirs.

SIDEBAR: BizzyBlog's Tom Blumer has been at the front lines of exposing Portman's opportunism for years...(here and here are two examples)