Dissension In The Ranks

Apparently the White House is in a tiff because Melody Barnes said she supported gay marriage:

So when one of Obama's top advisers, Melody Barnes, suggested that she personally supported gay marriage before a crowd at Boston College last week, it could have been a minor story. But it became a bigger one when the White House press office responded defensively, first insisting that no such support for gay marriage had been offered and then not signing off on the release of the video of Barnes's appearance until the dead-news hours of Friday afternoon.

Leaving her position aside, this strikes me as an instance where things like "message discipline" get in the way of what makes sense. I would expect--indeed I would hope--that people in the Obama White House differ over a range of issues. And to the extent that they were asked their personal views, I'd like to see--from time to time--one of them say, "This is what I believe,"  and have the press office say something like "We have a range of opinions in the White House. This administration's position is XXX. But we believe intelligent debate is essential to governing." Or some such. Condie Rice differed with Bush over affirmative action. The world didn't end.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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