Thursday, December 08, 2011

Obama good, Obama ungood

The good news is decision that gay rights and human rights "are one and the same" in a speech by Hillary Clinton, one that states the Obama administration will work for this concept internationally, and put some money behind it.   They also acknowledge imperfections here in American, while being studiously silent on gay marriage.

The foreign policy realists would say this will cost us internationally, just as any other human rights effort will cost us.  They'd be correct in some areas, although other places like Europe it should actually help our image and soft power.  Long run is a different story though, as history kind of arcs somewhat toward justice.

How this gets reflected in domestic politics will be interesting, because people who are somewhat conservative on gay rights domestically, say hypothetically a political science professor who supports civil unions, would fall on the far left of the spectrum of the countries with the worst discrimination.  The natural Republican reflex of opposing everything Obama does will then start looking pretty awful in the context of horrible abuses overseas. Rick Perry lost no time decrying "special rights" promotion, but the actual Republican nominee will probably lose votes while irresolutely dodging the issue.  Score one for the good guys.

The ungood side is the decision to overrule FDA's authorization of selling the Plan B contraceptive as a standard over the counter item.  Double plus ungood not because of the politics but the false claim that the science gives any reason to do this.  To the FDA's credit, they more or less stated their disagreement and weren't suppressed from doing that.  This is standard, almost, Republican-style War on Science.  Chris Mooney's book on the subject noted the Democrats were guilty too of this offense, but just not nearly to the same extent.  One strike against the Obama Administration in this regard.

I don't want to end on that note, so I'll add another piece of good news.  Younger Americans are significantly more accepting of climate science than older ones.  Now consider that even some Republicans acknowledge their antipathy to gay rights is a dying cause.  The very few scientists who don't accept climate science are also aging out (page 12) and not being replaced by anyone except lawyers, so the younger generation is being educated the right way.  I'm not sure how many demographically-challenged positions the Republicans really want to take, but maybe they should reconsider.

UPDATE:  Chris Mooney on Plan B here.  Similar grasp of the obvious.