Days after arch-competitor TIME magazine garnered oodles of buzz over its mommy porn cover, struggling Newsweek opted for calling President Obama the First Gay President in a cover story that is generating even more chatter. The big question is: will this help or hurt Obama's campaign? Rasmussen has been reporting a growing lead for Romney ever since Obama announced his new belief and intention to not do anything official to promote gay marriage, leaving it to the states.
Conservative commentary has mostly celebrated the cover as a further electoral disaster for Obama's re-election campaign.
Jazz Shaw at Hot Air:
When is the shark definitively jumped and the daily bread burned past any reasonable definition of being toast? Ladies and gentlemen, this would be that point.
He points out that this sudden evolution is believable only to those who need to believe:
I'm not such a political neophyte as to suggest that this is unique in politics, but the bold faced, brazen machinations and ham handed plotting which have characterized this "evolution" in the President's position on the subject at hand are rather breathtaking. And I'm not saying that people don't actually "evolve" in their positions, beliefs or ideology. I know that my own attitudes and beliefs in my twenties were a far cry - in some instances at least - from where I stand in my fifties. Very few of us spring out of the halls of high school fully formed with all of the opinions we'll hold until the grave.
But these evolutions generally take place over a long period of time, as exposure to new people and different ideas are examined and experimented with. Some are kept, others are rejected. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has gone in the course of less than a decade from full throated support of gay marriage to full opposition on religious grounds, back to full support. Are we really supposed to be buying this?
Noah Rothman of Mediate presents a summary of positive reaction from MSM liberals, starting with Andrew Sullivan, author of the Newsweek cover story and HIV positive openly gay advocate:
"Beforehand, I was kind of steeled. I was like, 'I didn't care; he's going to disappoint us again.' And then I sat down and watched our president tell me that I am his equal. And that I'm not going outside - I'm fully part of this family. And to hear the president who is in some ways a father figure speak to that - the tears came down like with many people in our families."
"I never understood the power of a president's words until that day," Sullivan continued. "This man saying, 'I'm with you. I get it. You're like me. I am like you. There is nothing between us.'" Sullivan went on to say that the gravity of that moment was "overwhelming."
Matthews said that, if there is any opposition to Obama's move, it would come from an older demographic. Huffington Post Editorial Director Howard Fineman said in response that there will be an attempt to "exploit this."
"Republicans are divided on this," said Fineman. He said Obama's move split the Republican party, some of whom are supportive of gay marriage while some are not. "The studied calm and caution of the Romney people I thought was instructive," said Fineman.
Gloria Borger, CNN chief political analyst, said that Obama gains young voters out of this move and loses older voters - ending in a wash. Sullivan agreed, interjecting that this is a "small 'c' conservative" issue, getting government out of the business of marriage.
"What [Obama has] done with Romney is make this a stark choice," said Sullivan. When the issue of Romney's alleged bullying incident came up, Sullivan called it "ugly stuff."
"It's the powerful punishing the weak," said Sullivan. "I think it's a character issue."
Tina Brown, editor of Newsweek/Daily Beast, is presumed to have run the cover in order to sell magazines, not particularly to elect Obama, though she is a member of the cultural left. Ed Driscoll at PJ Media presents an interesting history of the newsweeklies, making a strong case that their time has passed, and desperation is producing covers oif the sort seen this week:
Rendered dinosaurs in the age of the Blogosphere, Time and Newsweek now have to resort to stunt covers both to gin up PR, and in the hopes that somebody buys the thing when they see it in the checkout line at Pathmark or Walgreens. As the London Daily Mail reported on Sunday, "After Time magazine went with a cover shot of a young blonde mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old boy, Ms Brown is said to have taken it in stride, saying 'let the games begin!'"
No doubt, the cover will sell some copies and even more so, make Newsweek the hot topic today. But will it fatally damage Obama? That remains to be seen. For one thing, expect the media Democrats to bait Republicans into saying things about Obama's sexuality, as Sen. Rand Paul did. They want to paint the picture of Mitt Romney (and Republicans) as mean, greedy, bigots, and offering up Obama's sexuality as a topic of discussion creates minefields for Republicans. The media Democrats will offer immunity to anyone of the left discussing Obama's sexuality, while torturing any available comments from the right into hate speech.
The Obama campaign is already reaping millions of dollars from gay donors, and now, with this momentum behind them, gay fundraisers will be energetically canvassing and pressuring gays to donate the maximum amount allowable. So not underestimate the importance of a well-organized, generally affluent cadre to both raise money and drive turnout.
Finally, and most importantly, this is a great distraction from the economic issue. That is a tactical victory. But people do not forget about the economy because the gay-friendly media are obsessing over homosexuality (as usual).
On the other hand, motivating the base works two ways. Evangelicals were believed to be less than enthusiastic abotu Romney owing to his Mormon faith. As Andrew Malcolm of IBD writes:
Near the end of the competitive part of the recent Republican presidential primary season, Gov. Mitt Romney began showing growing support among evangelical voters. The Mormon had been losing that influential portion of the GOP base by lopsided proportions. Not anymore.
Thank you, Barack Obama.
The smartest move for Romney and conservatives is to express boredom with media tricks and focus on getting the economy moving again.