Not long ago, Barack Obama gave a highly publicized speech in which he disparaged bloggers as a class of people who, along with lobbyists and talk-radio hosts, ought to be ignored. Just what Obama holds against bloggers was never entirely clear, especially since he is known to occasionally meet with us (or so I have read). Today, Obama has a blog item of his own in the Huffington Post, urging Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. A consideration of its polemical merits makes clear the source of his mysterious resentment of bloggers: rank envy.
What’s noteworthy about Obama’s blog post is not its conclusion, which I agree with, but its limp reasoning. Obama simply repeats over and over that discrimination is wrong:
Here in the United States, we're united by a fundamental principle: we're all created equal and every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law. We believe that no matter who you are, if you work hard and play by the rules, you deserve the chance to follow your dreams and pursue your happiness. That's America's promise …
It's offensive. It's wrong. And it needs to stop, because in the United States of America, who you are and who you love should never be a fireable offense.
Americans ought to be judged by one thing only in their workplaces: their ability to get their jobs done …
As I said in my second inaugural address, our nation's journey toward equality isn't complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
In America of all places, people should be judged on the merits: on the contributions they make in their workplaces and communities, and on what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the content of their character."
I agree! The trouble is, conservative and libertarian opponents concede that job discrimination against gay and lesbian employees is wrong. They muster other arguments against ENDA: The law is unnecessary; it will encourage frivolous lawsuits; the government has no business regulating private contracts; the law will somehow threaten the culture of marriage. I find these objections pretty frivolous. (A GAO study found that states that have already enacted job protections for gay and lesbian employees have seen very few lawsuits as a result.)
A good blog post might cite and rebut some counter-arguments, throw in some hyperlinks, muster some evidence and maybe a little snark. Obama’s post does none of these things. It merely regurgitates the premise.
Obama likewise pads out his post with repetitive calls for Congress to pass ENDA. Given that he has already stated his endorsement of the law, calling for Congress to pass it is itself a redundant concept. Obama wastes precious Huffington Post blog space repeating this unnecessary idea:
That's why Congress needs to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, also known as ENDA …
This bill has strong bipartisan support and the support of a vast majority of Americans. It ought to be the law of the land.
So I urge the Senate to vote yes on ENDA and the House of Representatives to do the same …
I would not normally concern myself with the literary merits of a single blog post, except for the fact that Huffpo inexplicably gave it such prominent front-page space. Arianna Huffington obviously knows how to attract an audience, but the decision to display such a weak op-ed is bizarre.
Clicking on the writer’s author page reveals that, in addition to being a mediocre blogger, he is also an extraordinarily unproductive one. Obama has written just three posts over the last five years. He has written some long-form work that has met with critical and commercial success, yet he struggles mightily with the short form. He resents bloggers because he is a failed blogger himself. Obama should not quit his day job. Whatever that is.