While George W. Bush may be publicly pushing an anti-gay marriage amendment, close friends say he really doesn’t care all that much about the issue.
Writes Debra Rosenberg in Newsweek:
Though Bush himself has publicly embraced the amendment, he never seemed to care enough to press the matter. One of his old friends told NEWSWEEK that same-sex marriage barely registers on the president’s moral radar. "I think it was purely political. I don’t think he gives a shit about it. He never talks about this stuff," said the friend, who requested anonymity to discuss his private conversations with Bush.
But that won’t stop the GOP from exploiting the issue along with other extremist positions. Republicans are scared shitless over the possibility of losing control of Congress and will do anything to energize the nutcases in their base even as others say this latest tact won’t work.
While the GOP leadership clearly hopes this tack can revive their sputtering election prospects this fall, some GOP strategists aren’t so sure. Pew polls show a 10-point jump in support for gay marriage since 2004. And Bush pollster Matthew Dowd doubts it was decisive last time around. "It didn’t drive turnout in 2004," he says. "That is urban legend." Turnout was the same in states with bans on the ballot and those without, Dowd says. GOP consultant Grover Norquist also questions how gay marriage plays as an electoral issue. Though social conservatives vote for marriage bans, it’s not clear whether that will translate into votes for GOP candidates. "We don’t have much to go on," he says. For their part, gay-rights leaders would be happy to leave the issue off the ballot. "We have to make sure [the initiatives] never see the light of day," says Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese, who would prefer to press his case in court.