Sullivan on Obama's decision to stop defending DOMA in court:
The genius of the Holder decision is that it forces the GOP to decide very quickly whether to double-down on this issue.
It's the last thing Boehner wants to be thinking or talking about. And Obama has wisely restricted his shift to the federal government's recognition of what states have already done. In other words, Obama's decision can be viewed as a federalist one. Why, after all, should some states not have all their marriage licenses recognized by the federal government, rather than, say, 98 percent of them? Since the DOMA provision protecting every state's right to decide how to define civil marriage remains, this becomes an issue of the states versus the federal government. Which again intensifies the Republican internal conflict.
Meanwhile, the gays are ecstatic—a little too ecstatic in my view. Not to say I am not extremely gratified by the DOJ's decision. Just that I recognize its limits. As Obama used to say: no sudden moves. But his legacy on gay rights is beginning to build into a historic one. Yes, I have complained loudly in the past. My loyalty is to the issue, not the president. But he is coming through—more cunningly than most of us grasped.
Which is not the first time one can say that on many issues, where Obama's caution and incrementalism have begun to create a legacy that is deeply unsatisfying in the present but looks rather substantive from the rear-view mirror.
I have complained loudly in the past too. I think the complaints—and the drop in support for Dems in the midterms—are why we're seeing movement from the White House on our issues now. Don't get me wrong: I'm a little ecstatic—not too ecstatic, just a little ecstatic—about the movement we're seeing from the White House. We're in a much better place than we were a year ago.