Strange Days: Obama's Opposition to Gay Marriage a Good Thing?

The Sunday Week in Review featured a front-page essay by the section's editor, Sam Tanenhaus, "Sound of Silence: The Culture Wars Take a Break."

When Tanenhaus came on board the Times Book Review in 2004 he was accused of being conservative, but one would be hard-pressed to convict him based on the available evidence during his tenure - "the emptiness of free-market liturgy," anyone?

Besides having a thin, forced, and familiar feel, Tanenhaus's latest essaymanaged to portray Obama's opposition to gay marriage (which would normally make him a villain or at least hypocritical in the Times' eyes) as a Clintonian-style tactical victory against conservatives, absent of any anti-gay taint.

The culture wars may not have ended, but on some fronts the combat has gotten rather quiet. For instance, family values.

True,David Letterman's awkward joke about a daughter of Gov.Sarah Palin of Alaska prompted denunciations of the "media elite" (though it also boosted Mr. Letterman's ratings).

But the admissions of extramarital adventures by two Republican stalwarts, Gov.Mark Sanfordof South Carolina on Wednesday and SenatorJohn Ensignof Nevada the week before, did not help their party's cause and stood in dim contrast toPresident Obama's recent success in co-opting parts of the conservatives' cultural agenda - whether voicing his opposition to gay marriage, or delivering Father's Day homilies on parenting.

Is it the Times' understanding that "Father's Day homilies on parenting" are by definition part of a solely conservative agenda? Liberals generally get defensive at the suggestion that they are less committed to family values than conservatives.