It took Joe Biden's public embrace of same-sex marriage to smoke him out.
But after Joe told David Gregory of "Meet the Press" he was "absolutely comfortable" with homosexuals marrying, Barack Obama could not maintain his credibility with the cultural elite if he stuck with the biblical view that God ordained marriage as solely between a man and woman. The biblical view had to go.
Obama had to move, or look like a malingerer in secularism's next great moral advance into post-Christian America.
Consider. Obama had an appearance coming up on "The View," where Whoopi Goldberg would have demanded to know why he lacked the courage of Biden's convictions. He has a $40,000-a-plate fundraiser at George Clooney's, where the Hollywood crowd would want to know why he does not end discrimination against homosexuals.
He has appearances lined up before gay activists raising millions for his campaign. Monday, his press secretary was pilloried for his feeble defense of Obama's now-abandoned position.
His hand was forced. Yet the stand Obama took could cost him his presidency. Same-sex marriage may yet be a bridge too far, even for a dying Christian America.
On the plus side for Obama, his decision is producing hosannas from the elites and an infusion of cash from those who see same-sex marriage as the great moral and civil rights issue of our time.
But Obama may also have just solved Mitt Romney's big problem: How does Mitt get all those evangelical Christians and cultural conservatives not only to vote for him but to work for him?
Obama, by declaring that homosexual marriages should be on the same legal and moral plane as traditional marriage, just took command of the forces of anti-Christian secularism in America's Kulturkampf. And Nov. 6, 2012, is shaping up as the Antietam of the culture war.
Obama's second problem is that he may soon be seen as America's champion of same-sex marriage, but an ineffectual advocate. For Obama can do nothing, as of now, to impose homosexual marriage on the American people.
Thirty-one states have voted to outlaw it. A constitutional amendment supporting same-sex marriage could not win a majority of either house of Congress, let alone the necessary two-thirds of both.
Hence, Obama is going to spend six months winning cheers by calling for same-sex marriage. But the price of those cheers will be the rallying of millions of opponents of homosexual marriage, who will fight this battle where they are winning it, at the state level.
Only six states have approved homosexual marriage, while 30 have imposed a constitutional ban. In North Carolina, a ban not only on same-sex marriage but also civil unions, though opposed by Obama and Bill Clinton, carried on Tuesday with 61 percent of the vote.
Republican turnout in North Carolina's primary was up half a million, the highest in history. And this is a state Obama carried in 2008, a state whose largest city, Charlotte, will host Obama's convention.
Even in liberal California in 2008, while John McCain was getting a smaller share of the vote than Barry Goldwater in 1964, Proposition 8, restricting marriage to men and women, won.
How does Obama propose to win this battle?
He has one path to victory — the Supreme Court.
The New York Times, declaring that homosexuals' right to marry is "too precious and too fragile to be left up to the whim of states and the tearing winds of modern partisan politics," is looking to the court as the last, best hope to impose same-sex marriage on the nation.
Can't trust voters, can't trust elected legislators, can't trust Congress. Homosexual marriage, says the Times, is too important to be left to democratic decision. The republic must be commanded to accept it by unelected judges who serve for life and against whom the people have no political recourse.
That process of judicial tyranny has begun. A California judge has overturned the decision of California's voters to ban gay marriage, and his ruling is headed for the high court.
The Supreme Court thus will tell us whether this issue is to be decided democratically by voters and their elected state and federal legislators, or dictatorially by themselves.
Four liberal activists on the Supreme Court — Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor — are probably ready to declare that homosexual marriage is a constitutional right, as their predecessors declared abortion to be a constitutional right.
But Obama needs one more justice. If elected, he will get it, and same-sex marriage will be forced on all of America. If Romney wins, the Supreme Court will likely leave the issue of same-sex marriage to be decided by the people and their elected representatives.
Thus everything is up for grabs this November: the House, the Senate, the presidency, the Supreme Court and whether we still call the United States of America God's country.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?"To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.