Friday, September 24, 2010

How Obama and the Democrats Saved DADT

Don't Ask, Don't Tell should have been dead by now. That it isn't is testimony to the fact that Barack Obama has actively worked to scuttle measures to end the policy. His claims that he would abolish DADT were a campaign lie, not his intentions.

Consider that Obama has always had it in his power, as Commander-in-Chief of the military, to abolish the policy excluding gay people from the military. Truman abolished racial segregation by his orders and Obama could have done the same thing—had he wanted to do so.

The measure to abolish DADT only came up in Congress because House members wanted to get rid of it. The White House did not want the measure introduced and did nothing to help it pass.

Obama continued to try to ignore the matter entirely. Outside pressure got the measure introduced into the Senate. At this point repeal seemed a sure thing. There were more than a enough votes to repeal the measure. There were enough Republicans in support of repeal that it should have been a cake walk. And, had the measure been put up to a straight vote it would have been repealed.

But now the Democratic leadership, in the form of Senator Harry Reid, came up with a way to push pro-repeal Republicans into voting against the repeal.

Instead of a straight-up vote the measure was rigged to prevent the vote. And many in the normally pro-Democratic gay community have figured this out. Jim Burroway, at the gay news site Box Turtle Bulletin, wrote "we cannot forget that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rigged the process in order to squander the votes that were already there to break the filibuster. In failing to break the filibuster, Reid got what he wanted..." In other words, Reid wanted DADT to fail and he wanted it to fail in a way that he could blame on Republicans.

Wayne Beeson, at Truth Wins Out, reported that Alexander Nicholson, from Servicemembers United, the largest group of gay military personnel, "wondered if Reid was intentionally sabotaging the bill." Nicholson explains how Reid sabotaged the vote to guarantee failure:
Just more than 60 votes had been lined up to break a filibuster on (the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA) and allow the legislation to move forward for debate, amendments and a final vote before the Senate adjourns for yet another month-and-a-half-long recess. That was until Sen. Reid announced he was going to use his status as Senate Majority Leader to block the minority’s customary ability to also offer their amendments to the massive annual defense-spending bill.

This unusual and controversial move by Sen. Reid predictably enraged all Republicans, including the few who were previously prepared to help break the filibuster and allow a repeal-inclusive NDAA to move forward. And who can blame them? This isn’t a very fair move on Sen. Reid’s part, and it wasn’t a very fair move at points in the past when Republicans did it either.
Republicans, who supported repeal, publicly said that they had to vote against the measure because of Reid's dirty trick. And while Reid was doing what was possible to stop the measure from passing, the White House did absolutely nothing to try to pass the measure. In spite of Obama's campaign promises the reality was that he was, once again, refusing to do anything to repeal the measure.

Worse yet, Obama's recent appointee to run the Marine Corps made a visit to Congress where he urged them to vote against repeal.

Jim Burroway, one of the more perceptive writers in the gay community, wrote:
...[A]nyone with any powers of observation over the circumstances under which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brought the bill to the floor cannot reasonably escape the conclusion that the filibuster suits his political purposes as well, as he and many other Senate Democrats struggle to hold onto their seats in tight mid-term campaigns. To not recognize that what happened yesterday was nothing but political theater, and that all the participants came away with something they wanted going into the final stretch of the campaign season — well let’s just say that just because Schoolhouse Rock didn’t cover political theater, it doesn’t mean it’s not an important byproduct of the legislative process, even if (or especially if) a bill fails to become a law. And in this case, that nasty byproduct was more important than actually doing the horse-trading it takes to pass the bill itself.
I think Burroway is right. The optimal thing for Democrats was to create the appearance of repeal without actually succeeding. The effort was supposed to shore up their support in the gay community as the only major party willing to fight for equality of rights. But, if the measure passed, it would just give theocratic Republicans another thing to bitch about. Given that the Democrats are already in trouble, due to their ramming through Obama's health care debacle, they didn't want to hand another issue to the loony Right to scream about. But they needed the measure to fail because of the Republicans.

And the Republicans didn't mind playing along because they want to reassure the religious fanatics who control the GOP that they are still doing the "will of the Lord" by legislatively bashing gay people, the way Jesus wants.

But there is one loose end out there: the court ruling that said DADT was invalid. U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips declared the law unconstitutional and she said she intended to issue an injuction restricting the federal government from enforcing the law.

Now, if Obama really wanted repeal, he could say "thank you, very much" and plead that the judge ruled and he had to obey. But Obama doesn't want repeal. At best he doesn't want repeal now. Instead his Justice Department has filed a motion asking "that Phillips refrain from applying her ruling nationally, or to the military overseas. Instead, the Department of Justice argued that the immediate effect of her decision should be to prohibit the military from expelling openly gay service members who belong to the Log Cabin Republicans."

Really! I'm not making this shit up. Obama's officials are saying that since the Log Cabin Republican brought the successful lawsuit to declare DADT unconstitutional then the ruling should only apply to members of that group. Gay Democrats, who stupidly campaigned for this clown, can, in legal terms, go fuck themselves. One of the most loyal groups to Obama has been the gay community and this is how he rewards them. Everything this man does reeks of a one-term wonder.

He has pissed off the majority of Americans and now he is alienating the one group that would have stood by him, no matter how incompetent he has been, if he just delivered on a simple promise: repeal DADT. Considering that a majority of voters support repeal, it was a safe bet. But Obama had his eyes on the November votes and he didn't want to give the Right another issue. But, considering how hard Obama has worked to make the Republicans look appealing to voters, what more harm could he have done?

The Obama administration told the court: "A court should not immediate cessation of the 17-year-old policy without regard for any effect such an abrupt change might have on the military operations, particularly at a time when the military is engaged in combat operations and other demanding military activities around the globe." Thanks for reminding us of another promise Obama reneged on.

The only thing Obama fought for was legislation meant to destroy private medical insurance over the long run. The few good things he promised are the things he has actively prevented from changing. He has not ended the wars, in fact he is now using the fact that he failed to keep that promise as a justification for keeping DADT.

In a comedic response to Obama's active betrayal of the gay community the Libertarian Party is now making a bigger effort to attract gay voters. Yet the Party keeps promoting the bozo, Wayne Root, a cultural conservative, as their clown prince for the nomination. It wasn't bad enough that they previously nominated anti-gay Republican Bob Barr as their presidential candidate, but they had to cement the tragedy by making Root their VP candidate—not that they could have put forward a reasonable candidate otherwise. The main alternative to Root and Barr would have been a disaster as well.

The fact is that the Libertarian Party just doesn't get what is going on. One day they want to be Republican-lites pushing a "tea party" image and the next day they want to appeal to gay voters. They have not been consistently pro-liberty and are now too closely tied to the anti gay Right to pull gay voters in their direction. These days the LP is having a hard time attracting even gay libertarians.

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