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May 11, 2012

Gay Marriage: The Obama-Biden Jostle

It was easily the biggest instance of crossed wires between the garrulous vice president and his more buttoned-down boss, in a White House that has been marked by occasional eruptions from Mr. Biden. And the effect was magnified both because it involved a divisive social issue and because it came just as the general election is heating up.

“There is no dancing in Delaware,” said former Senator Christopher J. Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat, referring to Mr. Biden’s penchant for bluntness bred in a home state known for its tradition of not dancing around issues.

– from: Obama Campaign Pushes the Issue of Gay Marriage (NYT)

Whether Biden forced Obama’s hand, setting in motion a hastily-executed endorsement of same-sex marriage before Obama was there yet, or the impulsive Biden unintentionally provided the push that a cautious Obama needed all along, it’s fascinating how this photo lands in the thick of the mix.

Taken on April 4th, it preceded Obama’s announcement by five days and Biden’s dramatic endorsement of gay marriage on Meet the Press last Sunday by two days. I’m sure most of you can look back at some significant event in your life, recall the days leading up to it, and sense there was something in the air.

Of course, in considering this photo of Obama being teased and blocked by Biden, you have to also think about the timing of the White House Press Office inserting the photo into the White House Flickr Stream this past Tuesday, the day before Obama’s TV interview. Ultimately, I’d like to know if posting the image was just a random choice, perhaps informed by not-quite-conscious instincts, or if everyone in the White House knew the President’s announcement was in the works and the posting of the photo was simply good-hearted recognition (and some natural teasing Biden back).

(photo: Pete Souza/White House caption: President Barack Obama jokes with Vice President Joe Biden backstage before the STOCK Act signing event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building South Court Auditorium, April 4, 2012. .)

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