Friday, July 21, 2006

The Truth about the Lincoln Davis Speech

Congressman Lincoln Davis (D-TN) is being widely pilloried for his speech before the House suggesting that the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage doesn't go far enough. Davis said he wanted to ban divorce, adultery, and domestic abuse, as well.

Defending their boss, Davis' staffers are explaining that he was using sarcasm and that the controversy has only come about because some pundits didn't get the joke. They are partly right. Davis' comments were intended to be sarcastic, but the reason that he wasn't understood that way was that his sarcasm ran counter to his cynicism.

Thus, one critic of Davis, Judd Legum of the Center for American Progress, is reported in The Tennessean as asking, "If he felt this (the marriage amendment) was exploitative, then why did he vote for it? I think the reason why they are coming out and pushing back (is because if Davis were serious) it would put him on the fringes."

Here is what pundits such as Legum, who works in Washington and should understand these things, didn't get:

Davis wanted to have it both ways: he wanted to make sure that his fellow sophisticates in Washington understood that he was above this silly gay marriage thing, but he also did not want to go on record voting against marriage as a union between a man and a woman -- a vote that would not have gone over well in his largely rural Tennessee district. As a result, he ridiculed the amendment before he voted for it.

For that bit of cynicism, Davis deserves to be pilloried. That the mockery of him partly misses the point is merely collateral damage. Besides, given the name "Lincoln Davis," a desire to get on both sides of an issue may qualify as a genetic defect.


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