There’s a funny thing in modern politics, where Obama does the same, tired political dance that all politicians do–but when he does it, it supposedly has an aura of thoughtfulness or authenticity, and other politicians (especially Republicans) are cynically regarded as spinmasters or stupid.
Case in point: the recent controversy over Marco Rubio’s statements to GQ regarding the age of planet Earth:
GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?
Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.
First off, what a strange “gotcha!” question to sneak in between a talk about Rubio’s male role models and discussing young voters. GQ must be thinking, “Hmm, Rubio is the Republican standing favorite for 2016… better kneecap him early.”
Secondly, there has been a wave of totally outrageous outrage in reaction to his answer. (Salon.com: “Rubio Flirts with Creationism”) Apparently this is regarded as Rubio being a resounding young-Earther, and therefore a Science Denying Republican©? Re-read his reply, it rings more of “I dunno, I’m not going to give you any red meat and what the hell does this have to do with anything?”
Slate.com unearthed a 2008 comment from Obama where he gave nearly the exact same response to the same question. Watch Obama, master of the hedge, at work:
Q: Senator, if one of your daughters asked you—and maybe they already have—“Daddy, did god really create the world in 6 days?,” what would you say?
A: What I’ve said to them is that I believe that God created the universe and that the six days in the Bible may not be six days as we understand it … it may not be 24-hour days, and that’s what I believe. I know there’s always a debate between those who read the Bible literally and those who don’t, and I think it’s a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I’m a part. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live—that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true. Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible: That, I don’t presume to know.
Compare the bolded part to the end of Rubio’s statement. Virtually the same answer. You don’t want to offend people who either agree or disagree with the proposition if you don’t have to.
Moral of the story, this is politics as usual. If you’re going to be outrageously outraged at every political comment from the “other side,” you’re basically throwing stones in a glass house. If you’re not getting paid to churn up 24/7 political commentary on TV, ignore the small stuff and stick to the big issues.