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October 15, 2009

Comments

For once, I completely agree with von.

Fair enough.

"(McCain is cool with the gays, I'm told, and it makes a Nixon-goes-to-China kinda sense)"

Yeah, but that's trickier when you say in the campaign that you want to "support military commanders" who don't like the idea.

But then again, our President said we should, and he hasn't yet... so maybe it makes sense in a different sense...

Spot on. Seriously.

Issue the press release at noon on Thanksgiving Day, if you want the story to lay low.

This is right. I hate this "a lot on my plate" slogan. Making a sweeping decree is one of the few fun things about being President. It's not like repealing DADT will require the Coast Guard protecting the first openly gay soldier walking onto a base. These are the armed forces, are they not? They take orders.

How is Obama "refusing" to repeal DADT? Is there some DADT repeal legislation on his desk that he hasn't signed yet?

I just don't understand.

This all smells of Rahm.

Chuchundra, I don't know what you don't understand. The President is the leader of his party and sets the legislative priorities. If repealing DADT was a priority to him, it would have been repealed by now. There are plenty of folks in Congress who have drafted up legislation on the matter over the course of the last few years. ... one was introduced in March of 2009 (http://www.civilrights.org/archives/2009/03/131-dont-ask-dont-tell.html).

I've met Rahm, Ugh, and I can assure you that he doesn't smell.

For once, I completely agree with von.

I know! Feels weird... :)

He's the dang Commander-in-Chief (ya know, like the Republicans were soooooooooooo fond of pointing out just a few years ago). This is one case where he should act like it.

Yeah, my only comment is that Obama can't actually do anything other than sign a law that congress first has to pass. Ironically, the Republicans could well look like d**ks opposing a repeal of DADT, whereas it seems like only yesterday, but in fact was 2004, that Rove got a bunch of anti-gay marriage amendments on a bunch of state ballots to rally the bigots and the ignorant who might not have otherwise voted. It's always been my sense that those amendments are what won the election for Bush.

Frankly, the idea that DADT will be repealed without a huge oxygen sucking fight is laughably absurd. We know that Obama has been talking to the people on the hill about this for months and if he thought it was going to be easy, it would have already been done.

Politics can be unpredictable but I feel quite certain about this one. As I said, Obama's people have been working behind the scenes on this which means that this issue will come up in the next few months and when it does, we will see a repeat of all the screaming and crying that we have seen with the HCR debate, at the very least. Eventually it will get to his desk on essentially a party line vote with maybe a handful of cross-party votes in the house and no more than 2 or 3 in the Senate and Republicans across the country will be using the issue in attack ads. I am willing to put good money down on exactly that scenario playing out. Any takers?

Heck, I think that there's a fighting chance that a McCain adminstration would have repealed DADT by now
Imaginary President McCain is the best Imaginary President we've ever had!

... I mean, you know your assertion about Imaginary President McCain is complete nonsense, don't you?

That aside, I believe in the "a lot on his plate" line a little more than do others, but even so I'd would feel better about the people saying "We have to wait for Congress" if I saw more signs of something actually happening in Congress.

I suspect it is a matter of priorities. A fight over DADT would derail the healthcare push. There is probably also a major concern about taking on water going to bat for gays. I think those days are in the rear view mirror, for the most part, and good riddance, but no one ever lost money betting against a politician's putting re-election ahead of principal. One of the things that sucks the most about being conservative is the heinous bigotry of so many so-called conservative leaders. There was a time when being conservative meant, perhaps in theory, allowing equal opportunity and otherwise leaving people alone, economically and in their personal lives.

Presidents can't repeal statutes. He has said numerous times that he supports repeal.

The President is the leader of his party and sets the legislative priorities.

Ha, ha, ha--you must think that Democrats are like Republicans. Like Will Rogers pointed out, we don't belong to any organized poltical party, we're Democrats. If you claim were true, we would have passed health care reform, complete with public option, in August

Heck, I think that there's a fighting chance that a McCain adminstration would have repealed DADT by now

Don't be silly. Do you see a McCain sponsored repeal bill pending in Congress now? Did he say anything in his campaign that was in the slightest way supportive of repeal, or supportive of gays on any other issue? And Sen. McCain, unlike President Obama, is actually empowered to introduce bills in Congress. No, I don't think the Democrats can even count on McCain to vote for repeal, much less lead it.

There was a time when being conservative meant, perhaps in theory, allowing equal opportunity and otherwise leaving people alone, economically and in their personal lives.

When exactly was that time?

Because while I can think of individual conservatives for whom that is certainly true*, I can't think of a single decade in the past century when "being conservative" meant standing up against racist, sexist, and homophobic discrimination in either public or private life. Name me a time when "being conservative" meant you were for legalizing sodomy, equalising age-of-consent, supporting lifting the ban on same-sex marriage, and banning discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation at work or in provision of goods and services.

Again, this is not about individual conservatives - I've met homophobic individuals from left and right on the political spectrum, plus a bunch who basically don't constitute any wing of politics at all. But as a political movement, conservativism has always been about promoting government interference in your personal life - unless you're a straight white man...

And to the chief point of Von's post: The thing is, though, that so long as Obama is talking about it there's just a possibility it may eventually happen, even while his White House staff are deriding gays who want civil rights as left-wing pyjama-clad extremists.

Just as soon as Obama decides it's not worth while, right then I'd expect him to shut up about it and make like all those campaign promises never happened.

I suspect that what McKinneyTexas and Brent said above is about right, but that only makes von's main point ever so slightly premature. I'm willing to wait until after health care reform has been passed. After that, time to put up or shut up.

Also, as rea said:

"Ha, ha, ha--you must think that Democrats are like Republicans. Like Will Rogers pointed out, we don't belong to any organized poltical party, we're Democrats. If you claim were true, we would have passed health care reform, complete with public option, in August"

even while his White House staff are deriding gays who want civil rights as left-wing pyjama-clad extremists.

Even the reporter who claims to have been told that by an anonymous source has now walked it back, saying that his source made the remark in a competely different context, having nothing to do with gays.

"The President is the leader of his party and sets the legislative priorities.

Ha, ha, ha--you must think that Democrats are like Republicans."

Well, ok, the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate set the legislative priorities.

Speaker of the House Pelosi (D).

Majority Leader Reid (D).

Surely they talk to Obama from time to time?

It's amazing how Democrats let President Obama off the hook for not showing strong leadership on an issue that deserves it and does not seem nearly as controversial as it once did.

There's something to be said for Obama's consensus-building style, but there are times it seems like foot-dragging.

Speaker of the House Pelosi (D).
Majority Leader Reid (D).

Surely they talk to Obama from time to time?

Surely you jest. And stop calling me Shi... never mind.

Pelosi and Reid are weak and ineffective (even for Democrats!). We could use a guy like Tip O'Neil about now -- when he cracked the whip, the whip stayed cracked.

Jes is correct re one point: repealing DADT is not a conservative cause. Which is one reason why I am not a polical conservative. (I am, by temperment, somewhat conservative, but a liberal -- albeit of the classic strain.


Sorry, that last comment was a bit unclear. It comes from blogging on a Blackerry.

I agree with von on an emotional level. I do find myself wishing that Obama would just stomp over to the Hilland tell Reid that the Democrats won so please stop acting like the leader of a minority party.

On the other hand I don't know enough abouut how the actual nuts and bolts of COngressional politics works to know how a President can best influence the process.

Pelosi and Reid are weak and ineffective (even for Democrats!)
I'll give you Reid (but would you take him?), but Pelosi? Ineffective? Seems to me, she's gotten the House to pass whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, in whatever form she wanted (with the slight exception of the first bailout, last October, when the Republicans didn't deliver the number of votes their leadership had promised).

I'm not saying she's my hero or anything (she really needs to show some action on the well-documented ethics problems of Murtha and Rangel), but honestly she seems about as effective as anyone in Congress in recent years, perhaps even including the dread Republican House Leadership of the early 00's (i.e. Armey and DeLay, who had an iron-fisted control over the House, and rather grander designs for its use than Pelosi seems to have).

Well, gee... your opinions are all well and good but aren't you overlooking the GOD question?

Sorry, but health care and climate change really are more important than DADT.

Once legislation for both of those is either signed, or dead for the duration of this Congress, he should by all means take up things like the EFCA, DADT, immigration reform, take a more serious stab at cramdown, and so forth.

But first health care, and then maybe let's try to start saving the fucking planet, just for shits and giggles. Everything else can wait.

I get it. Either sign a non-existent passed bill, or shut up about it!

After all, you control the legislative agenda!

Irony really abounds on about 1/5th of Von's posts.

Heck, I think that there's a fighting chance that a McCain adminstration would have repealed DADT by now (McCain is cool with the gays, I'm told

Yes indeed. He's also strongly against torture and he'd definitely have voted for a bill outlawing it had he ever gotten the chance!

He should get behind it. He should have done so long ago. That said, I can sorta kinda see leaving it until after health care -- I wouldn't do that, but then, I'm not President. But not a moment after.

It is remarkably easy to pass laws and enact reforms in the blogosphere. Funnily enough, it works out rather differently in real life. DADT should be repealed, and it would be nice if it could be repealed easily and permanently. This means the military showing some support. They've begun to do this, a little, but we haven't got close to full-out demands for repeal. That said, Obama hardly needs to stir up this fight in the middle of the healthcare battle. Also, could we please have a moratorium on the easy indignation and the false assumptions about how reality and specifically US politics works? We've already seen what the GOP is willing to do on healthcare - do you think they will be any less vicious on DADT? Let's be brutally honest: as far as the majority of the American public goes, even if they are fine with repealing DADT, that doesn't mean they want to see it given priority. We also don't know how hard/soft the support for repeal really is. Judging by the fights over gay marriage, when push comes to shove, I have doubts that the support in the polls would hold up. Better to take some time, frustrating as that may be for the gay community, and get it done once and for all. Rushing in and losing would set the cause back a decade, and that's not exactly what we need.

I agree with von in a general way. This 'a lot on my plate' stuff is crap, and even vague shades of George Bush. It's the attitude responsible for/excuse for, screwing up (IMO) the financial rescue and, paradoxically, botching health care reform, too. With this congress (and this compromised Democratic party) Obama would never have gotten a perfectly progressive re-regulation of Wall Street or health care reform, but barring no healthcare reform at all, I don't see how they could've done much worse on both. The phrase 'too clever by half' comes to mind.

The Democratic Party needs to be remade, and I suppose I was hoping that Obama, with his momentum, his popularity, and his vaunted nationwide organization (what's that *for*, anyway?) would be the one to get that project going. Maybe it will still happen (perhaps after the Administration has one of those proverbial 'crises'?) but it's pretty disappointing so far.

Of course, get DADT of off the 'plate', BTW!

The operative Team O idea seems to be that you should pick your fights, but in fact, they've tacitly, pre-emptively been letting the opposition pick them.

Anxiously awaiting chapter two.

Wait. Obama will come through. He's not Clinton.

But he's also not a fight-picker like McCain.

Congress will repeal DADT at the right time, and he'll sign the repeal. That will have a more lasting effect than just repealing it by executive order as commander-in-chief, the way Clinton tried to do and ran into a buzz-saw.

Another reason it has to be timed correctly is, there will be a terrifying backlash for a while. I'm absolutely certain some gays in the military will be murdered by bigots--just look at what's been happening to gay soldiers under DADT, being chased out by death threats and the officers dragging their feet on addressing them. (There's a lesbian, I forget her name, who deserted the army and is now in Canada because she was afraid she was gonna be murdered. Also there was a piece in the OPINION section of the WashPost (or NYTimes, I don't recall which) entitled "I didn't tell. It didn't matter" about a guy being run out of the army because he didn't brag about pussy.) Obama will need political capital to minimize this.

Much as I would love to see Obama kick the legs out from under DADT, it's not going to be cheap, politically. Taking down DADT is the gateway drug to taking down DOMA. And that's when the brown stuff is going to hit the rotating blades.

I'm not sure where the calculus for this stuff lies in terms of how many states have marriage equality. On the one hand, those states will serve as a good voting bloc and example ("See? Massachusetts is still not a howling wasteland of depravity!"). On the other, every state with marriage equality is another state whose migrants could, under full faith and credit, move in next door to some very frightened people.

A party that uses the "slippery slope" argument all the time anyway will surely map out DADT -> DOMA -> two gay men next door in their advertising. And it'll have traction, too.

I'm sorry, von, but your "put up or shut up" request is ridiculous.

Repealing DADT *without the public support of the military* does not have the 60 votes that would be required to break the *certain* Republican filibuster. Every reasonably informed political player (including Obama) knows this. With the barely possible exceptions of Collins and Snowe, there are zero Republican votes to break a filibuster of DADT repeal and plenty of "true believers" (real or feigned) who would talk themselves hoarse to prevent it.

If you think DADT repeal can break a filibuster today, please discuss your legislative strategy in more detail. Aspects of your legislative strategy that look laughable in light of the legislative debates over the stimulus bill and health-care reform will be mocked, mercilessly.

If you think DADT repeal can't break a filibuster, then what are you complaining about?

BTW, the only way Imaginary President McCain could have repealed DADT is because of the following probabilities:
(a) all blue-state Democratic senators and most purple-state Democratic senators would have voted for it.
(b) there would be enough *Republicans* who would want to spare a president of their party a serious legislative defeat to vote for repeal.

The real President Obama does not face the same political landscape in the Senate - through no choice of his own. If you want to complain about DADT not being repealed, you need to direct your scorn to the political actors who are making choices.

If you want to direct your scorn, you should direct it at those people whose choices could make a difference:
(a) Those senators who might support repealing DADT if Imaginary President McCain asked for it, but wouldn't if President Obama asked for it (reasonable)
(b) At the American people for not electing a Senate more supportive of DADT repeal (unreasonable unless you expect most people to be single-issue DADT voters)
(c) At the American people for not electing Imaginary President McCain because he might have had a better chance to repeal DADT (as discussed above) even though he (to the best of my knowledge), his party and his platform are publicly opposed to DADT repeal (completely unreasonable).

i love the gays (figuratively), and obviously DADT should be repealed, but as others have noted the idea that it wouldn't at this moment derail the healthcare debate (at a time of uptick in the prospects of meaningful reform) as surely as a "have you put on weight?" derails one's chances of sex with one's spouse that night is foolish. homosexuals deserve equal rights, but not at the expense of healthcare reform (or, for that matter, a major climate change bill) when it could just as easily be done 6 months or a year from now. and the magical thing is that President Obama will be President for a WHOLE 4 years! evidently some in the blogosphere think that he needs to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, reform healthcare, reverse climate change, and wage a victorious war against bigotry for homosexuals all in the first 9 months of his 48-month term. not even Superobama could do that. no doubt if the man could speak candidly his sentiment wouldn't be far from "just calm down, i'll get to you; one thing at a time".

a little strategic thinking would do many of those stamping their feet (i'm lookin at you, Sullivan) at Obama over DADT a deal of good, because you know for a fact that the President is thinking in those terms.

Just my two (Euro) cent: I think Obama should act openly* once HCR is done or dead. It should not be postponed in favor of climate change legislation since I do not believe that it could weaken him there more because the opposition will be total anyway. In case of HCR putting direct pressure on Congress about DADT now would have imo the potential to derail it. I think that at least one Republican will be needed to break the GOP filibuster on HCR because "independent" Joe of Connecticut has more or less openly declared that he will join the GOP in killing it.
My proposal would be to try to insert a repeal of DADT in a bill connected to the war in Afghanistan (and/or Iraq) because that would put the GOP in an awkward position. It would be even logical because the US military lost a significant number of specialists (esp. linguists) as a result of DADT that could not be adequately replaced.
The ads almost write themselves: "GOP prefers dead GIs to live gays in the armed forces".
If nothing is done on the legal front before the midterms, I'll join the chorus of "you talk but your walk is away"

*with openly I mean before Congress or directed at Congress ("I want that bill before Xmas on my desk to sign it!")

Ravi, you're right that DADT would not break a filibuster today in large part because there is no formal OK from the military. But this highlights the problem with Obama's position, because the question is not: Would a DADT repeal pass in the current world, without the President leading on the issue? Rather, it's would DADT pass in a world in which the President is leading on the issue? A world in which the President is not just requesting a repeal bill in a vague sense, but demanding a vote on one of the existing repeal bills. In which the President is not just requesting that the military complete its review of DADT whenever its done, but demanding the completed review.

As for the debate in Congress: Why the heck would Obama or any Democrat fear it? The public is firmly behind a repeal. You have (literally) hundreds if not thousands of gay servicemembers who can make the case in a way that is persuasive to "middle America."

Indeed, as Hartmut points out, the pro-repeal ads write themselves. Not to be crass, but pro-DADT folks should be terrified of the first ad of a disabled gay servicemember, who gave his blood and limbs for this country, making the simple point: "I am proud of my country. I have suffered defending it. I have given more than most folks will ever give. I want to continue to give. Please let me."

This is a winning argument. The Democrats could use a winning argument these days; winning arguments don't detract from other arguments -- they enhance your other arguments.*

*The Democrats will pass healthcare, but it's not a "winning argument" in the sense that it has the same simple message same broad support. Indeed, I think that passing healthcare is likely to cost the Democrats a good number of seats. Repealing DADT? Probably zero impact.

Imaginary President McCain is the best Imaginary President we've ever had!

You shouldn't discount the power of Imaginary President McCain as a liberal. Just use the formulation that I provided above. For example: By this time, Imaginary President McCain probably would have ended the Iraq war. It makes sense in a Nixon goes to China kinda way.

(I couldn't resist the self-parody.)

That would be because the health insurance industry is paying out lots of money to ensure that they keep their protected industry protected - ie, they continue to be allowed to rake in money without having to insure people who are likely to need expensive healthcare, or even refuse to insure 4-month-old babies who are "too fat" - and to deny insurance to people who already have expensive health-care needs. Universal healthcare is broadly popular among voters, but more so among the poorest voters who have nothing but their life and their vote: money talks, and their health care needs fall way below the need of your average politician to keep the dollars rolling in.

Whereas the argument against allowing GLBT service people to serve openly was always just that bigotry is a great vote-getter. If bigotry against GLBT people in the military is not a great vote-getter any more, denying GLBT people the right to serve has no great revenue opportunities - unlike denying people healthcare.

Hence the difference, Von. It's not "Popularity" - it's money.

I agree with von on his post. What Obama did about DADT recently struck me as hilarious, if it weren't so cruel. He responds to criticism that he hasn't followed his rhetoric and promises about DADT with action by......making more promises about DADT? What? We know you can give a good speech, dude. But how about actually doing something that will help out people who just want to serve and will serve our interests as a whole, too? M'kay?

I also agree with the point he makes in the thread that, yeah, there are political difficulties in doing that, but there always are. The point is that he could make a difference if he even attempted to lead on this question and to make what could be some pretty compelling political arguments. This gets at what really annoys me about my so-called liberal and progressive leaders. They're always telling me that measures that advance our supposedly shared interests can't be done and shouldn't even be tried, or should be done "someday." Whereas the conservative whackdoodle leaders (sorry, von) are unashamed about standing up for their core interests (every sperm is sacred, the holy market, global military dominance) without apology, persistently and often effectively. But they at least give it a shot.

Jes, I believe I said "conservative, perhaps in theory". That was then, this is now. Unfortunately, back then the consensus that gays should not serve openly in the military or get married or any other damn thing was nearly universal. That is, the libertarian side of conservatism never had to confront individual rights at the margins, but focused only on maximizing individual freedom within conventional mores. The theory then remains valid, it just has a much broader application. The notion, though, of individual rights has been hijacked by the fundamentalist wing of conservatism to the end that everyone is free to believe and act as the fundamentalists would have it. Let me further clarify that individual liberty to conservatives did not include, for the most part, rights of the accused, minority rights, etc.

the conservative whackdoodle leaders ....are unashamed about standing up for their core interests

Correct, and this is how they move the goalposts to the right over and over. It's Negotiating 101. There's also the little matter of the fact that there will be a 'firestorm' no matter what Obama says or does, or doesn't say or do.

Jes, I believe I said "conservative, perhaps in theory". That was then, this is now.

And now, as Von himself admits, supporting equality for GLBT people is still not a conservative issue.

(Which is why, incidentally, he's Monday-morning-footballing when he claims an administration with Sarah Palin as V-P would have done anything about discrimination against gays in the military any sooner - McCain, like all the other Republican candidates for President, was squarely and publicly against allowing GLBT people to serve openly.)

I see what you're saying, and yes, I know this is how many conservatives who are, as individuals, fully supportive of GLBT equality justify their opposition to the conservative mainstream.

The notion, though, of individual rights has been hijacked by the fundamentalist wing of conservatism to the end that everyone is free to believe and act as the fundamentalists would have it.

The problem with this argument is that the conservative mainstream has shown no signs of trying to disengage with or even fight with the fundamentalist "hijackers". Where was the conservative condemnation when Keith Kerr, a gay man who is a retired brigadier general with 43 years of service, a graduate of the Special Forces Officer Course, the Commanding General Staff Course and the Army War College, asked the Republican presidential candidates why they thought that American men and women in uniform are not professional enough to serve with gays and lesbians - and every single one of them ducked the question?

I don't really buy the "there is so much on my plate" argument or the really irritating "realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult" argument from that 'anonymous' white house source.

Repealing DADT isn't functionally anything like crafting a new health care bill. From a legislative perspective it could be done in something very close to a one-liner: "For purposes of the UCMJ, especially but not limited to fraternization rules, relationships between members of the same gender shall be treated exactly as outlined for relationships between opposite genders. Section [whatever the original DADT rule is] is repealed."

This isn't a 1,000 page new structure for 1/6th of the economy we are talking about here. I know Congress likes to make everything sooooooo complicated. But seriously this isn't.

Further, repealing DADT is MORE popular than health care reform. So don't get all 'closely divided country' on us. We're practically at 70% percent support. We're swiftly approaching the zone where the people who are against the repeal are equal to the people who think that the moon landing was staged.

Precisely how long do we have to wait for Democrats (controlling both Houses of Congress and the Presidency) to 'lead' on this? 75% popular acceptance? 90% popular acceptance? They have just under 70% NOW. What other proposal that they are considering has 70% support? A bill to confirm that children shouldn't get crack as a part of their school lunch?

"homosexuals deserve equal rights, but not at the expense of healthcare reform (or, for that matter, a major climate change bill) when it could just as easily be done 6 months or a year from now."

BA: This may have come out the wrong way, but that sort of give-them-a-pat-on-the-head, wait-your-turn treatment is what makes gay and lesbians feel like second-class citizens.

I don't think it's ever a good thing when this country puts civil rights on the backburner.

And why can't the President/Congress tackle more than one issue at a time? Isn't that what they get paid to do?

I get being pissed at Obama for not 'putting up'. I'm not certain enough of the practicalities to be sure of whether the argument that it would be politically disruptive enough to screw with the rest of his agenda is a good one, but whether or not there's some argument for his dilatoriness, I'm pissed.

But I don't see any argument at all that he should 'shut up' about it. The more he reiterates that this is a priority that's going to happen someday, the harder it is for him to back away from it. Like Jes said, if it drops out of his rhetoric, it's off the agenda.

Lip service isn't much, but it's head and shoulders better than no service at all.

Repealing DADT isn't functionally anything like crafting a new health care bill.

No. It's slightly more complicated than simply legislating to remove the words "over 65" from the Medicare Act.

But universal healthcare (even if it means higher taxes) still has majority support. cite

And this with all the lies the health insurance industry has been promoting over the past few years about how it will cost the US more if the health insurance industry is subject to the same competition and customer safeguards that industry is required to follow in every other developed country in the world - all of whom spend less on healthcare and get more.

The problem for Obama in providing universal healthcare is the money the opposition are willing to pour into preserving their protected insurance industry.

The problem for Obama in repealing DADT is the kneejerk bigotry from the Republican party that got DADT into legislation in the first place.

They're different kinds of problems, so comparing them is probably slightly futile.

"homosexuals deserve equal rights, but not at the expense of healthcare reform (or, for that matter, a major climate change bill) when it could just as easily be done 6 months or a year from now."

My challenge to everyone who wants gay people to calm down and get over it on this issue is this: when exactly would it be ok to freak out over Democratic party dithering? Can we freak out a week after health care reform, or do we need to wait until a climate bill is passed?

Is end of the year ok, or is that uncomfortably close to the 2010 midterm elections?

Is just after the midterm elections ok, or do we need to wait until 2011?

Do we need to wait until Obama is safely elected to a second term in late 2012?

Should we worry if it isn't done by 2013, or do we need to wait until after the 2014 midterms?

Also, at what general population acceptance level do Democrats forfeit their right to pretend to be 'leading' on the issue? We are at 69% now. If it gets to 75% before the Democrats bother to do anything, do they still get credit for leading on gay issues? What if they wait until 80%?

I suppose one thing they have in common, though, is that both issues - the presumption that it's impossible for the US to provide universal healthcare, and the presumption that it's impossible for GLBT people to serve openly in the US military - are the kind of negative "American exceptionalism" presumptions - somehow the US isn't good enough to do what other countries do. Also, they're what Glenn Greenwald calls "Beltway insider" presumptions - they're claimed as universally true, even though they appear from opinion polls to be held by only a small minority of Americans.

Hence the difference, Von. It's not "Popularity" - it's money.

Although the number and variety of interest groups make any health care reform challenging, the more fundamental problem for reform is a general distrust of government. Government services are perceived as substandard in America to a greater extent then they are in Europe; perhaps even more important, Americans seem to have higher standards for government services than Europeans. We grade our governments harsher and, probably, our businesses less harsh. Europeans tend to do the opposite.

I'm really, really generalizing here, but there's a reason why "C'est la vie" is French .... and it's loosely connected to why Americans seem so obsessed with sex scandals. Yes, we're conflicted about sex, but we also expect a lot more from our politicians than, say, the average Italian. Or so it would seem. We more easily give into dreams of hope and change -- remind you of anyone? -- and are more easily disappointed.

There's room for an extended, off-topic riff here regarding why Americans are like this .... it probably has to do with the fact that we're more diverse and united by spelled-out ideals (e.g., we have a written Declaration of Independence and one of the first written Constitutions) than, historically, Europeans have been. But I'll stop here.

So good to see you support the idea of a single unitary executive able to overrule one of the other branches of government, Von.

McKinneyTexas, I don't think support for gay rights is conservative. Oh, it's possible to approach gay rights conservatively -- i.e., go slow, build consensus, etc. That's reflected in some of my thinking: I like elected legislatures formally adopting gay marriage, and don't much like judges ruling in favor of gay marriage. I think it's the most likely way to create lasting rights. Brown v. Board of Education was important, but the Civil Rights Act was much more important in terms of actually changing lives.

But supporting gay rights? Not conservative by any stretch. Libertarian is not conservative, and I'm going to keep fighting attempts to combine two fundamentally different strains of thought.

the more fundamental problem for reform is a general distrust of government.

Sure, but it's important to remember that the "general distrust of government" is yet another of those faked-up things.

Medicare is a hugely popular government program, scoring far higher than private health insurance. Indeed, in tribute to its popularity, I hear tea-baggers were marching with signs saying "get government out of my medicare" apparently not realizing that if the US government did, they wouldn't have Medicare.

Government services are perceived as substandard in America to a greater extent then they are in Europe

Say rather that government services which are popular and known to be of a higher standard than private services, such as Medicare, are not acknowledged as "government services".

There's room for an extended, off-topic riff here regarding why Americans are like this

You have a really rotten national media, which is riddled with corporate power spreading propaganda about "what Americans believe". See Glenn Greenwald on "insider Beltway" myths, passim.

I'd much rather have an inclusive (t)ENDA sooner than DADT repealed.

Both, yeah eventually, but first things first.

I, for one, would like to see von do a post expanding on his 12:05 comment.

Von, what I've always considered to be a hallmark of distilled conservative thinking is the individual's right to be free of government intrusion or direction up to the point where one's rights intrude on another. That conservatives have historically reserved this right to white, straight males does not undermine the principle, only its limited application.

Sure, but it's important to remember that the "general distrust of government" is yet another of those faked-up things.

Not at all, Jes, and with good reason. I deal with the Federal and state government all the time. You will not find a more rigid, unimaginative, unmotivated and occassionally ethically challenged group of people/institutions anywhere. My confidence in the Feds being able to actually execute something as complex and massive as health care over haul is less than zero.

You will not find a more rigid, unimaginative, unmotivated and occassionally ethically challenged group of people/institutions anywhere.

Well, that kind of sweeping statement is certainly convincing. Not.

My confidence in the Feds being able to actually execute something as complex and massive as health care overhaul is less than zero.

And yet, as I noted above, Medicare - a government-run, government-funded healthcare programme - is far more successful, far more trusted, and far more popular, than private health insurance.

Von, what I've always considered to be a hallmark of distilled conservative thinking is the individual's right to be free of government intrusion or direction up to the point where one's rights intrude on another. That conservatives have historically reserved this right to white, straight males does not undermine the principle, only its limited application.

But that's not a "conservative" notion; that's a libertarian notion. And, in America, an idea associated with the West (which, for these purposes, starts at the Mississippi and includes Texas).

I would argue that conservatism comes in many flavors, but none of those flavors privilege individual rights in the way that you describe. Some are certainly hostile to Federal power, but that hostility is linked to the notion that the Feds will change the way things have always been done.

It's true that a lot of conservatives talk down big government, but, when you drill down, you find out that it's not government they don't like: Conservatives probably pass as many laws, and criminalize as much stuff, as liberals do. It's true that conservatives don't like taxes. Or the notion of paying for someone else's mistakes (or escape responsibility for one's decisions). But I think it's a mistake to conflate a dislike of taxes or an embrace of responsibility (in others, at least) with respect for individuals rights.

McKinneyTexas -

You seem to have forgotten that the folks who were running the government for the last eight years have been doing their best to demonize public employees, destroy their ability to do their jobs and lie about out. I have no reason to believe your claim*, but even if it were true, you could hardly blame government employees for doing exactly what they were forced to do by Republicans.

* It also appears that you have never dealt with people in private industry.

would DADT pass in a world in which the President is leading on the issue?

No, it would be filibustered. (The MSM wouldn't describe it as a filibuster, but rather as Obama not having the 60 votes needed to pass it, but here we can use words correctly.) And if there were Blue Dog defections, as is likely, this would be reported as a huge defeat for Obama.

I'm not saying that pushing DADT repeal isn't the right thing to do, but it's not a slam-dunk, and it's not clear to me that getting beaten on it is a win for the Good Guys.

Have Republicans signalled a filibuster on DADT? Why is everyone assuming that?

I'm assuming zero-sum electoral politics would be involved. If Obama proposes something, that's reason enough for the Republicans to oppose and probably filibuster it; the actual popularity of the result is irrelevant. Denying the President and the Democrats anything they can consider a success is more important.

I fully expect that an Obama-proposed "Apple Pie Act" would result in the RWNM telling us that hot fudge sundaes are the only acceptable dessert for true Americans.

FWIW, I tend to agree with those that feel that Obama has every intention of pushing for a repeal. But he is also a pragmatist and wants to get HCR done first. And, as much as I hate DADT and want it repealed, I do believe real HCR reform like that proposed by the House as opposed to Wyden-Bennett, is more important at this specific point in time. In fact, I don't think Obama woudl even be mentioning it if it wasn't important to him. I don't think the Pentagon woudl be doing as much as it is if he didn't want it done. I don't think there would be as many back room discussions as there about details of how to handle the repeal and what policies to make official for the military.

"I fully expect that an Obama-proposed "Apple Pie Act" would result in the RWNM telling us that hot fudge sundaes are the only acceptable dessert for true Americans." Well, they definitely wouldn't go for eclairs or tiramasu.

Have Republicans signalled a filibuster on DADT? Why is everyone assuming that?

P1. The Republicans filibuster everything.
P2. Repeal of DADT is a thing.
C. The Republicans would filibuster repeal of DADT.

QED

Sebastian, it is certainly reasonable to assume Republican opposition. When you have things like this taking place:

A few weeks ago, in the wake of Van Jones' resignation from the administration, the right turned its proverbial guns on Department of Education official Kevin Jennings. The smear campaign against Jennings has now incorporated a significant chunk of the House Republican caucus.

Fifty-three House Republicans have signed a letter to the Obama administration asking for the ouster of Kevin Jennings, an official charged with promoting school safety, because of his career as an advocate of teaching tolerance of homosexuality.


"As the founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, Mr. Jennings has played an integral role in promoting homosexuality and pushing a pro-homosexual agenda in America's schools -- an agenda that runs counter to the values that many parents desire to instill in their children," the lawmakers write.


it's pretty certain that there will be a lot of pressure on Republican members to oppose any measure that is seen as a step forward for teh gay.

"I, for one, would like to see von do a post expanding on his 12:05 comment."

Ditto that.

I suspect that the American experience of govt and resulting attitudes towards it have been influenced by the peculiar nature of the way the North American landscape was re-populated by Europeans and their slaves and servants after the demographic decimation of the Native Americans. To many of those folks in the 18th and 19th Centuries the US govt was something useful when it was displacing and if necessary killing off the natives, and was invisible when it was paying for the infrastructure which made their frontier existence much easier than it otherwise would have been, but it was an intolerable nuisance when it turned towards them. The Whiskey Rebellion and the Oklahoma Land-rush come to mind, as does the unpopularity of British crown policy towards trans-Appalachian settlement before the US Revolutionary War. It really does not take many dots to connect these events with some of the more unsavory aspect of movement conservatism today: wanting to bomb scary brown people while cutting taxes and complaining that we don't want any cuts to our Medicare.

Sebastian: Have Republicans signalled a filibuster on DADT? Why is everyone assuming that?

Because Republicans have such a long-standing tradition of homophobia that there are probably still Republicans in either House who were responsible for legislating DADT in the first place, and those not old enough for that, grew up in a party whose electoral tradition always included kicking the gays.

As I noted upthread, all the Republican candidates for President came out in favor of DADT. If the Democratic party can get repeal through, no doubt Log Cabin Republicans will be sourly ungrateful as usual...

Umm Jesurgislac, you may not have been following American politics very closely, but DADT was a DEMOCRATIC party creation.

Sebastian: Umm Jesurgislac, you may not have been following American politics very closely, but DADT was a DEMOCRATIC party creation.

Umm, Sebastian, you may not have been following American politics very closely when DADT was passed, and I know you love to pinkwash the Republican Party beyond reason and recognition (including, on at least one occasion, blaming the Democratic Party for DOMA), but: HEARING OF THE REPUBLICAN RESEARCH COMMITTEE'S TASK FORCE ON MILITARY PERSONNEL SUBJECT: PROPOSAL TO END THE BAN ON GAYS IN THE MILITARY CO-CHAIRED BY REPRESENTATIVE JON KYL (R-AZ) AND
REPRESENTATIVE CLIFF STEARNS (R-FL)
. February 4, 1993.

You may also want to read (or probably not) the speech the Republican Senator Dan Coats made against homosexuals being allowed to serve openly in the military (July 1993)

Wanting to believe that everything homophobic in US politics was the fault of the Democratic party may be your preference, Sebastian, and may be the preference of Log Cabin Republicans and dreamy straight guys like Von who think well of McCain, but ... the facts are the facts.

Incidentally, since I never saw you acknowledge this when you were arguing that DOMA was all the fault of the Democratic Party, you do know that 16 Senators voted against it... and every single one of them was a Democrat?

The Democratic Party is hardly a pro-gay rights party. The best that can be said of it is that, for the most part and on the whole, it has as a party acknowledged that GLBT people are human beings, deserving of roughly the same rights and respect as other human beings.

The Republican Party has consistently and very directly treated GLBT people as meat to be thrown to the evangelist wolves following the party sleigh. Log Cabin Republicans may cling to the sleigh hoping that they are favored meat, but...

Have Republicans signalled a filibuster on DADT? Why is everyone assuming that?

P1. The Republicans filibuster everything.
P2. Repeal of DADT is a thing.
C. The Republicans would filibuster repeal of DADT.

QED

He's got you there, Sebastian.

Less flippantly, have any Republican Congresspeople signaled legislative support for DADT repeal? Take, for example, this recent story:

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) said he expects the House to hold hearings on a bill to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in winter or spring of 2010.

Murphy, speaking to the Blade at a Wednesday event sponsored by the Raben Group, a D.C.-based public affairs firm, also said he has 166 co-sponsors lined up for the measure and commitments from another 10 lawmakers to vote for the bill but not sponsor it.

How many of those 166 sponsors, or those 176 if you include the other 10 claimed to be quietly backing it, do you suppose are Republicans?

Well, as it turns out, you don't have to guess. A blog calling itself Pam's House Blend has a Google Spreadsheet listing the sponsors, and the other Representatives they're targeting. They list 180 sponsors as of Wednesday the 14th, and one of them is a Republican. They only list 17 more Republicans as being worth the effort of lobbying them.

But keep on telling yourself that there's a secret groundswell of Republican support in the Senate that will ensure a floor vote for, and passage of, DADT repeal. I think they're just as real as Imaginary President McCain, who supports DADT repeal. Meanwhile, Actual Senator McCain said in May of DADT that "the policy has been working and I think it’s been working well."

Jesurgislac, you just don't know what you're talking about. DADT was passed at a time, like NOW where Democrats controlled the entire legislature and the Presidency. Don't Ask Don't Tell was a Democratic Party project, designed by Democrats, passed by Democrats and signed into law by a Democratic President. The opposition to it at the time was spearheaded by Barney Frank (D) and Barry Goldwater (R).

And again, at 69% approval, it isn't clear at all the Republicans are going to filibuster.

BTW, I notice that no one has answered my question about exactly how long they think we should wait before we can hold Democrats accountable.

I have another question. What makes you think you have 50 Democrats willing to vote to repeal it...?

Sebastian, I haven't heard much about support for DADT repeal in the Senate. But, as I noted above, there are now 180 Representatives - 2/5 of the House - sponsoring a DADT repeal bill. I don't know when that bill is moving forward, but it doesn't look like there's nothing happening.

Still, what I really don't understand why you think that the Republicans, who have been filibustering everything and stalling nearly all of Obama's nominations, would somehow decide to change tack and approve a measure that is certain to further incite their base, which is already frothing at the mouth after a steady diet of incitement from Fox News, talk radio, and antediluvian preachers.

You keep on citing this 69% number like you believe it, which is touching - but have you seen the regional or the sociological breakdown on that one? Have you seen how many of those 69% feel strongly enough about it that it will change their voting behavior, compared to how many of the 31%? Do you really think it will stay at 69% once the propaganda campaign gets into swing?

I notice that having apparently decided on the basis of nothing whatsoever that there's significant, if quiet, Republican support for DADT repeal in the Senate, you didn't comment on the link I found stating that, so far, 179 Democrats and one solitary Republican have signed up to back DADT repeal in the House. Do you really think the Republicans in the Senate are so wildly different from their House colleagues?

And, in this vein, did you see this Steve Benen post yesterday? The key parts of the post:

Rep. Mark Kirk (R), currently running for the Senate in Illinois, has come under some fire from the right for his alleged moderation. His decision to vote for a cap-and-trade bill in June, for example, led to widespread outrage in conservative circles. (Kirk has since changed his mind and now opposes the bill he voted for.)

The Illinois Republican is also known for moderation on social issues, most notably gay rights. Kirk, for example, was the lead GOP co-sponsor on an expanded hate-crimes bill, and is on record supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. This, of course, is also anathema to the Republican Party's base.

So, as his Senate campaign gets underway, Kirk feels it's necessary to abandon the moderate image he worked hard to cultivate. (thanks to reader G.K. for the tip)

He supports continuing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays serving in the military.

"I think it's worked out well," he said. "Keeping that all out of the workplace makes common sense."

And that's in Illinois. Kirk has decided, literally, that his shows too little homophobia for him to become a Republican Senator, and he's specifically signaling this decision by endorsing DADT.

And from the same day of Steve Benen posts, we have the latest in the continuing saga of Republican attacks on Kevin Jennings, apparently becaue Jennings is involved in education and is not a heterosexual. This is the party you think is just waiting to let DADT repeal happen.

P.S. My memories of 1993 politics aren't great, but in 1993 Barry Goldwater had been retired for more than half a decade. I'm sure he was vocal, but he was in no position to "spearhead" anything.

I guess I've been a bit overwrought in my last couple of comments in this thread, so I should step back a bit and try to gain perspective.

Sebastian, I agree with you that the persistence of DADT is unjust. I agree with you that I'd like to see more action from the Democrats in Congress and from Obama to repeal it.

I'm less certain than you seem to be that things aren't proceeding behind the scenes, and that they aren't sincere in their intent to get DADT repealed. I think 179 House Democrats on the record for its repeal is pretty significant - though I'd like to see a similar proportion of Senators, and of course what I'd really like is more than a similar proportion, in both chambers; I'd like to see enough for repeal to pass. And I'm more receptive than some to the argument that it's acceptable to pass health care reform first.

The part where I strongly disagree with you, where I find your stance infuriating, is when you start making these assertions about how President McCain would have repealed DADT by now, or that the Congressional Republicans will cheer on DADT's repeal. There is just not the slightest scintilla of evidence for this, and a lot of evidence to the contrary, and it's frankly beneath you to make these absurd claims. I understand the desire to find a home in some political party, and I would never suggest that you become a Democrat. But I do think it's important that you acknowledge the truth: the Republicans, in their current form as an organized party and extending to the vast preponderance of their elected officials, are simply not worthy of your support. Your criticisms of the Democrats would seem more firmly grounded to me if they did not emerge from within this haze of delusion.

Don't Ask Don't Tell was a Democratic Party project, designed by Democrats, passed by Democrats and signed into law by a Democratic President.

And was, at the time, an incremental improvement over the status quo. With the entire military, including Saint Colin Powell, insisting that openly gay soldiers would destroy unit cohesion, nothing more was feasible. Honestly, you sound as if DADT ended a centuries-long tradition of gay-friendly armed forces.

"is when you start making these assertions about how President McCain would have repealed DADT by now, or that the Congressional Republicans will cheer on DADT's repeal. There is just not the slightest scintilla of evidence for this, and a lot of evidence to the contrary, and it's frankly beneath you to make these absurd claims."

Would you mind quoting me on where you got these impressions? I'm pretty sure I haven't said anything that even remotely resembles that. Are you confusing me with someone else?

Warren Terra, to be fair to Sebastian, it was Von (the original poster) who claimed that "I think that there's a fighting chance that a McCain adminstration would have repealed DADT by now".

Sebastian merely declines to acknowledge that institutional Republican homophobia plays a strong part in Democratic slowness to reform. His repeated and long-standing criticisms of Democratic politicians for not moving as fast on human and civil rights for GLBT people as Sebastian would like come oddly from a conservative who, until the Republicans went openly pro-torture, was himself a committed Republican.

It would of course be more effective if conservatives who would at least prefer to vote Republican if doing so hadn't meant voting for George W. Bush (or Sarah Palin!) criticized conservatives and Republicans for being homophobic and for actively hindering civil and human rights for GLBT people. But Log Cabin Republicans are an odd breed.

Then again, I suppose the point of these criticisms may be to attempt to drive a wedge between gay conservatives and the Democratic party. Republicans often seem kind of annoyed that GLBT people, black people, Latino people, even those wealthy enough to "count" as Republicans, will rigorously vote against a Republican candidate, just because the Republican party is institutionally homophobic, racist, and misogynistic.

It is almost as if they think the Democratic party must be cheating in some way to get these voters so consistently on their side, rather than doing some self-examination and cleaning up their act.

There is no reason why conservatives have to be so much in opposition to equality for GLBT people, legal immigration, free and open access to abortion and other women's healthcare, family and child-friendly work policies, or why they have to be so wedded to their racist anti-civil rights past. Were there enough conservatives - and former Republicans - willing to criticise their own party for their past and present failures to support GLBT people, immigrants, black people, and working women with children to care for - well, maybe the Republican party would change.

So long as the Republican reaction is merely to try to make the Democratic party look just as bad, it's clear there's no wish or will to change.

"is when you start making these assertions about how President McCain would have repealed DADT by now, or that the Congressional Republicans will cheer on DADT's repeal. There is just not the slightest scintilla of evidence for this, and a lot of evidence to the contrary, and it's frankly beneath you to make these absurd claims."

Would you mind quoting me on where you got these impressions? I'm pretty sure I haven't said anything that even remotely resembles that. Are you confusing me with someone else?

I appear to have conflated Von's assertions about Imaginary President McCain with your assertions about Imaginary Senate Republicans. So I'm responding more to a combination of various conservative commenters/posters than to any one, and obviously I should have toned down my response to the individual conservatives as they did not bear sole responsibility for propagating the claims in question. My apologies.

With that caveat, my basic point, about Conservatives refusing to acknowledge the essential awfulness of the Republican party at a gut level, still stands. At this point, any progress in this county - indeed, any movement in this country, for good or for ill - will have to come from the Democrats, and over the Republicans' refusal to participate. The Republicans just aren't interested in government, or in policy.

"With that caveat, my basic point, about Conservatives refusing to acknowledge the essential awfulness of the Republican party at a gut level, still stands. At this point, any progress in this county - indeed, any movement in this country, for good or for ill - will have to come from the Democrats, and over the Republicans' refusal to participate."

Ok, but that doesn't actually mean that Republicans filibuster every single bill--they don't. Nor does it mean that Democrats are serious about bringing to a vote everything we might want them to (or that they might pretend to want to).

I contend that DADT may be one of those issues that Democrats don't really want to bring to a vote, and therefore won't do so unless we keep the pressure up on them.

I contend that DADT may be one of those issues that Democrats don't really want to bring to a vote, and therefore won't do so unless we keep the pressure up on them.
The former concern is one that I share to some degree, and the latter resolution is one that I heartily endorse.

And I will point out that there are some signs of progress this time that I don't think we've seen before. 180 sponsors in the House may not be 218, but it's still pretty impressive for a bill that no-one expects to get action before the new year. Obama is offering at least rhetorical support, and it's said his people are plotting with Lieberman and maybe others in the Senate. Things may well happen - but, by all means, keep up the pressure.

And conservatives who oppose the overthrow of DADT and DOMA would probably claim to "support the troops" - but gay soldiers ought to "wait in the parking lot":

Beloved wasn't allowed into the ER in February after my car accident. The ER nurse in charge wouldn't even tell her my condition, and told her to wait in the parking lot.

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