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November 08, 2010

Comments

I wonder if the Democrats are playing the DADT game like the Republicans play the abortion game.

Say you're going to fix it if you vote us into office, but then pull the football away.

I would argue that none of the legislative machinations garnered Harry Reid any actual votes? Could anyone really believe that a single person who wasn't going to vote decided to show up and cast a ballot because of an amendment attached to a bill that didn't pass? Campaign rhetoric about supporting Hispanic people may have gotten him some votes, but he could campaign on that with or without the actual failed legislation. That renders the whole thing even more incomprehensible.

Here's another possibility: The Republicans blocked it like they block everything else that could allow them to fulfill a promise before the election. Do you honestly believe Collins would have given Obama a DADT victory before the election if the DREAM act were not there? Does Mark Pryor support a DADT repeal in isolation?

Both provisions were hopeless because Republicans -- not Reid -- wanted the the Dem base to be demoralized in a low turnout election. They don't give a damn about public support for the policy. Most of them have no sincere opposition to DADT.

And no, Reid got no more votes for failing on DREAM then he did for failing on DADT.

Molosky, the DREAM act lost Democratic Party votes as well.

Reid took something he had the votes for and scuttled it with something he didn't have the votes for.

"And no, Reid got no more votes for failing on DREAM then he did for failing on DADT."

He doesn't seem to think so, or he wouldn't have done it.

"the DREAM act lost Democratic Party votes as well."

I did not say otherwise, but it doesn't matter if the Republicans are unified in denying them a victory, as they were.

"He doesn't seem to think so, or he wouldn't have done it."

If he was going to fail either way, the number of votes he gained is irrelevant, but there is no evidence that he gained votes from failing. Just because a majority of Republicans claim to support a repeal in polls does not mean Republican senators want to hand the Democrats a victory before an election.

To prove your point you need to prove that DADT without DREAM would pass in a vote before the election, keeping in mind that Pryor stated he opposed repeals prior to the report and that Collins would have no reason to ignore her leadership's clear instructions if there were no DREAM act.

The amendment claim was not sincere. There is an infinite supply of ways in which Collins could have voted with her party and still made an excuse about it, the easiest being the excuse Pryor made.

"The amendment claim was not sincere."

We'll never know because Reid attached an unpopular bill to it. From here, you can say that Collins wouldn't have voted for it anyway, but she had already crawled well out onto that limb with her speeches before Reid cut the branch out.

This is 100% fault of Republicans, who opposed unanimously (and the great centrists on specious grounds). Take it up with them. This is just either naive or cynical

And the Dream Act business is a cited excuse, not an actual reason. As this article explains, Collins and Snowe supported it. The idea that the lack of amendments actually motivated people who support all provisions of a very important bill to oppose it is ridiculous. Collins was helping the team, and she fears the Tea Party.

The cowardice -- the people who "screwed over gays" -- is in the GOP. And specifically, it's with the individual Senators who support this and know they are voting immorally.

And even assuming you're right about the DREAM Act motivating the "No" votes (which I think you're not), it's not like it's some radical piece of horrible legislation. It would help military recruitment.

Is Reid the Majority Leader? Did he bundle the two? Or was that someone else?

A leader from your tribe screwed up. He either intentionally torpedoed a measure that he had the votes for (Collins' story, and I would suspect to protect his own ass or some of the Democratic Senators with marginal races) or he intentionally chose to dilute the question by letting Republicans who were on the fence say that it was due to an amendment that was never going to pass while playing up a base that was more important to him than gay people.

Reid chose that. He is the Majority leader of the Senate, and one of the most politically powerful people in the United States. For some reason, which he is certainly not interested in making clear, he made that choice.

Ignoring what he chose, is naive. And gay service members will pay the price of Reid's political game, despite having the support of about 70% of the population.

"To prove your point you need to prove that DADT without DREAM would pass in a vote before the election, keeping in mind that Pryor stated he opposed repeals prior to the report and that Collins would have no reason to ignore her leadership's clear instructions if there were no DREAM act. "

No.

Reid had the opportunity to prove that point on his own. He could have forced Republicans, including Collins to clearly vote against the repeal if he had desired it. He did not desire that the issue be clear.

You can claim that Collins wouldn't have voted for the repeal all you want. Her speech on the subject strongly suggests that she was willing to buck the Republican leadership on the issue. But she didn't get put to that test. Reid didn't force that issue. He bundled it with immigration reform--the largest part of it (the college issue) not even touching on the military bill. There was no reason to do that, at least no reason involving actually attempting to pass the bill.

What Publius said.

Republicans engineered this but not simply because it satisfies their anti-gay base but because it divides the Democrats. Gay and liberal democrats were demoralized for this election already because of this issue and today whole segments of the democratic base are writing screeds dedicated to anti-Obama/Reid rage and threatening to never vote, volunteer, or donate to Democrats again. This big payoff all because they convinced a few people* to vote against their beliefs on two issues.

A few more of those win-win victories, and they can get unified Republican government again in no time.

(* one can only imagine how many Republican senators sincerely support both pieces of legislation, but Snowe and Collins are not alone).

"Republicans engineered this but not simply because it satisfies their anti-gay base but because it divides the Democrats."

How did they engineer Reid putting the DREAM amendment in?

Mind control lasers?

Again, the DREAM Act isn't the reason she voted no. And it's not part of her stated reason for voting no. Collins supports DREAM - she opposed the bill only because of the inability of GOP to propose amendments. And that's ridiculous -- everyone who has watched Congress for past 2 years knows that Senate GOP tries to drag everything out in bad faith, not to help the legislation.

In short, your post and comments are inaccurate -- but it's fun to make fun of Reid as a scapegoat for unanimous GOP discrimination against gays

On a more general level, I'm really baffled that you could look at this whole thing (and count all the votes) and come away with Reid as the villain.

I assume all these Republican Senators who were tyrannically treated by Reid are out there saying how much they support DADT by itself, right? The great John McCain would have voted for it otherwise, right? He's been a great statesman on this issue.

Look at the local reports:

Las Vegas Sun

"In September, Reid attempted to bring up both a repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," which prevents gays from serving openly in the military, and the DREAM Act, which would put some qualifying undocumented immigrant college students and military enrollees on a pathway to citizenship, under the umbrella of the defense authorization bill.

Republicans, led by McConnell and John McCain of Arizona, waged a successful filibuster against even bringing what is normally considered a must-pass up for debate. That measure to fund the military will be one of the first orders of business when lawmakers return to Washington next week; but it’s not clear if the two issues will be the same fight.

Many accused Reid of playing politics with the bill in September, and only including the ancillary measure as a way to make a play to his Democratic voter base in the midst of a difficult election season. The measures did not pass, and Reid beat Republican opponent Sharron Angle by 5 percentage points.

Reid has promised that the DREAM Act will be considered in the lame-duck session, but he has not made the same promise concerning "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell."

Re-read that last sentence, publius. It isn't an accident.

You wrote that the DREAM Act was a reason Collins voted no, and it wasn't. But the larger point is that you're just cynically blaming Reid for institutional GOP discrimination.

Otherwise, I hope you're doing well. ;)

The reason Reid wouldn't allow amendments was because the DREAM could get voted on separately. Which is what Collins objected to.

So publius, why do YOU think that Reid bundled the DREAM act in. If you could explain the logical reason for doing that, I would have less trouble. Why was insisting on that as one of the exactly 3 amendments he would allow, a good thing?

Why was bundling DREAM and DADT repeal a wise choice?

Actually I've seen a good reason, from Reid's point of view at least. If the DREAM act was solo, it could very well lose on Democratic Senator votes: Conrad, Dorgan, McCaskill, Pryor, Landrieu, and wobbly Baucus and Tester.

This is an honest question - can someone explain to me how 41 senators can be entirely at fault for 59 senators completely failing to get anything of any import done for two years? Did they really stand up in front of the rest of the senate and filibuster every single thing of note for 2 years straight?

Health care, when it passed, was mangled almost beyond recognition. I can't think of another major legislative accomplishment.

Please explain to me how this is ENTIRELY the fault of the minority party? How did Republicans stop Guantanamo from closing - how have Republicans authorized the assassination of US nationals abroad - and in this specific situation, explain to me why DADT couldn't be repealed in a straight up vote on just that one bill, forcing Republicans to simply vote for or against DADT?

Doesn't the Senate Majority leader have the power to do that? I'm not exactly opposed to the argument that 'Republicans ruin everything' - But I don't really see HOW Republicans ruin everything, a lot of the time. It just seems like it's the kneejerk "our team did badly, but it's because your team gummed shit up!" - How exactly did they do that?

Can't edit but - Just reread comment and wanted to apologize for intellectual dishonesty. Those of my example issues in paragraph three were things that Senate had almost no control over to the best of my knowledge. Better example would have been DADT and possibly immigration reform or emissions regulation?

Breaking News:

Charlie Brown refused to kick the football today, stating "Lucy always pulls it away when I go to kick". Football pundits noted that Lucy had, in fact, totally promised to leave the ball there this time, and blamed Charlie Brown for the lack of a field goal.

Comments from Sebastion on Charlie Brown's obvious bad faith efforts, tonight at 11:00.

All of those Senators voted for it.

And of course, they're also all Democrats -- like every single other Senator who voted to repeal discrimination.

If it helps at all,Zaeron: WHAT IT MEANS TO REQUIRE AND END A FILIBUSTER.

Short version is that, yes, it requires sixty votes now to get anything done in the Senate that the Republicans want to require sixty votes for. Which is pretty much everything of greater substance than naming a post office.

Also: THE CONSTITUTIONAL OPTION TO CHANGE
SENATE RULES AND PROCEDURES:
A MAJORITARIAN MEANS TO OVER
COME THE FILIBUSTER
.

56 Democrats voted for the repeal of DADT; 41 Republicans + Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor vote against it, and somehow the poster now wants us to believe it was the Democrats' fault. Geez Louise. I'm going to follow Occam's principle here and say the simplest solution is probably the best: The Republicans resisted the Defense Appropriations Bill including the repeal of DADT either because they didn't want to repeal DADT or because they are reflexively opposed to anything that could be construed as a victory for the Democrats. Lucky for them Republicans far and wide are willing to make excuses for them so they don't have to own up to their own votes. What's that called? Having your cake and eating it, too?

The simple, straightforward story is that Republicans hate gays more than they love the military. All else is sophistry.

Well, let me tone that down a bit. Most Republican politicians probably don't hate gays personally. But they know which side their political bread is buttered on. The GOP base -- the Real Murkins who vote in GOP primaries -- hate gays. And they hate immigrants to boot. So what's a poor Republican Senator to do?

Seb's proposition is that GOP Senators are helpless puppets of their extremist constituents, and Harry Reid should have known that and and accommodated their servility. Reid's the bad guy. The GOP "moderates" are brainless, blameless marionettes.

Balderdash.

--TP

"how this is ENTIRELY the fault of the minority party?"

They have the power in the Senate to stop all legislation from being voted on, due the cloture rule. It is politically easy to do this on every vote because many people do not realize that they are the reason why the votes never happen and think the majority is just not trying hard enough. In fact, one should be impressed that they ever passed anything.

" Did they really stand up in front of the rest of the senate and filibuster every single thing of note for 2 years straight?"

Effectively, yes. And when the democrats allegedly had 60 votes, briefly, they had to spend considerable effort getting people to join them who usually don't.

"explain to me why DADT couldn't be repealed in a straight up vote on just that one bill, forcing Republicans to simply vote for or against DADT?"

Why the passage vote wouldn't be held: they need 60 to get there and will not get any Republicans.

As for the cloture vote, attaching it to the defense bill makes it more difficult for to oppose (in theory) since it has to get passed. Obviously this assumes they'd face some criticism for blocking it, but as you can see that really isn't the case.

So what I'm reading here is that people are capable of noticing Republican Senate gameplaying but not Reid's Senate gameplaying. Ok.

I think at best (worst?) Reid can be blamed here for providing the GOP with just another excuse for a no vote but I do not believe that it made any difference. The only GOPsters that these days dare to vote their beliefs instead of their party's command are those that are on the way out and thus cannot be threatened about their reelection campaigns.
If on the other hand the next defense appropriations bill drops the DADT repeal provision, then you can burn Reid in effigie and more than one here will hand you the matches.

"So what I'm reading here is that people are capable of noticing Republican Senate gameplaying but not Reid's Senate gameplaying. Ok."

If by "gameplaying" you mean "political strategy" then of course everyone notices Reid's as well, which was optimal under the circumstances and, as I (and Publius) tried to explain, in no sense "screwed over gays" to "shore up the Hispanic base." The focus on Republican "gameplaying," then, is a response to the implied question "then why did DADT not pass?", because their effect on this outcome was fully deterministic.

Again, part of the purpose of the minority denying high profile victories is to divide and demoralize the opposition.

The reason Seb is getting so much pushback here is that he is using a newspaper and/or partisan technique where it really doesn't sit well. You don't need 'man bites dog' stories to 'sell' ObWi. Republicans block virtually every single bit of business in the Senate, regardless of its merits - regardless of the fact that the country is really in pretty serious crisis - or how they actually feel about it, for two solid years? Dog bites man. Not worthy of discussion. In a recurring moment of moral nullity, I kick my puppy and pee in the water supply every night when I get home? So? You know me! I always do that! But if there's an argument which can be slapped together whose headline is 'Reid Screws Over Gays' - ah, now THAT'S news.

I am not convinced by Seb's argument that Reid intentionally wrecked the bill's chances (why, then, attach DADT to the larger bill at all? and the 'no amendments' excuse is laughable), but even if there were a tiny bit of truth in it, the problem clearly isn't Reid.

I also don't think this issue is analogous to abortion vis a vis the Republicans. The GOP has dined, and will continue to dine (as it were), on abortion for decades. Like so many other social issues they run on, it is not in their interest for any of it to be resolved, and moreover it's not possible for most of them to be resolved by government anyway (see: 'conservatism'). OTOH, DADT will be repealed in relatively short order, and overall greater civil rights for gay people is inevitable.

BTW, does any liberal here believe that Democrats never play political games, and need to be disabused of that by Sebastian?

So what I'm reading here is that people are capable of noticing Republican Senate gameplaying but not Reid's Senate gameplaying. Ok.

So what I'm reading here is that Sebastion believes that on DADT, unlike every other bill considered by the Senate in the 2008-2010 session, the GOP was actually totally serious this time for reals about voting for it.

Sebastion, sarcasm aside -- what you're asking is that we take the GOP claims here as good faith claims. Despite the fact that, multiple times through the 2008-2010 session, they claimed they'd vote for things (or at least not filibuster it) and then when it came time for the vote voted to deny cloture.

This reminds me of the argument (here) over the Healthy Americans Act (Wyden-Bennett).


does any liberal here believe that Democrats never play political games, and need to be disabused of that by Sebastian?

I would say that, while most liberals might agree with this in theory, the more common view is that Democrats act strategically, for the ultimate good of all while Republicans act venally, exploiting the fears, insecurities and prejudices of many of the less well off, as cover for promoting policies to further concentrate wealth in the hands of privileged few.

McKT, you're unclear. If "most liberals" agree with your quoted text, how can there be a more common view than that? "Most" at least connotes a plurality, if not a majority.

Ok - this is my last point. On the whole amendments thing, there is actually a good reason (though unreported) why to block amendments. When you allow amendments, that triggers all this extra debate time -- particularly if you're trying to invoke cloture, etc.

So the idea that the GOP was just trying to change the bill through amendments is an almost willfully naive/cynical approach (not accusing Seb of that - just media and Senate GOP). They wanted to stretch this out and block the ability to other stuff too.

The story of the 111st is great achievement, coupled with an unprecedented procedural abuse by a minority in a thoroughly broken Senate institution.

the more common view is that Democrats act strategically, for the ultimate good of all

The common view is that Democrats act strategically? I'm going to go laugh for 10 minutes. I'll be back..

[wipes eyes]. ha.. OK. I think the common view is that Democrats believe that politics - for all its ulterior motivations - is still, when push comes to shove, essentially a means to deal with problems, whereas modern Republicans believe that politics is a way of life and that having power is an end in itself. Apropos that...


news flash: Harry Reid screws over gay people again

BTW, speaking only for myself, let me say that I have enormous contempt for the Democratic party; but that doesn't change my corollary view that the modern GOP is actually beneath contempt. Nihilism is beneath contempt.

Wow a whole thread on
Democrats = righteous and honest vs Republicans = evil and liars

Reid killed it, on purpose. Just because he used Republican votes to do it doesn't change that.

Reid killed it, on purpose.

mind reading. 20 yards. loss of down.

Wait, if the choice was between chucking the DADT amendment, and chucking the DREAM amendment, I'd vote for chucking the former.

Wow a whole thread on
Democrats = righteous and honest vs Republicans = evil and liars

No. Democrats: inept, contemptible; Republicans: nihilistic, beneath contempt. Bad vs worse. Got it?

The error here is one of projection. Movement conservatives think of themselves as a 'tribe', and assume that their opposition must therefore also think of themselves that way. But most non-Republicans actually *don't* think or behave that way. The Democrats don't even behave like a minimally coherent political party - to the great detriment of themselves and the country. In that sense, it is indeed the Democrats' fault that our politics is so rancid: Democrats fail to countervail anything, no matter how bad or ridiculous. But how does that absolve the GOP? It doesn't.

Not to threadjack, but just to say that I'm now dismantling my computer set-up, and moving to Emergency Back-up PowerBook G4 15", which is fritzy, so it's possible I might wind up offline through next week, if the back-up gives out.

Otherwise I should be able to at least briefly check email all days but Thursday, uncomfortable with that machine as I am, and much as it works only when plugged in, and fritzy as it is.

"But most non-Republicans actually *don't* think or behave that way."

I can't read minds, but from the outside this doesn't look remotely true. Despite all conflict within the Democratic Party, I perceive the tribal effect to be just as strong.

It is reflected in the most common of tribal traits:

"It's ok for me to complain about us, but I will defend us to the death when you criticize us"

A fairly apt description of the current Tea Party/Republican interplay also.

and this:

Democrats believe that politics - for all its ulterior motivations - is still, when push comes to shove, essentially a means to deal with problems, whereas modern Republicans believe that politics is a way of life and that having power is an end in itself.

Is a tribal view worthy of Redstate.

I don't know why both Seb and publius can't be right. Reid could have had an eye on his onw election while putting the bill together and planning its route through the Senate. The Republicans of course were doing what they do; lie, obstruct, play political games for the sake of their elections. I don't see it as an either /or.

"Wow a whole thread on Democrats = righteous and honest vs Republicans = evil and liars"

I am not sure you understand, but I'll just speak for myself. Both are trying to enact policy and win elections. Republicans have the upper hand when it comes to costlessly blocking changes to law, particularly on issues of low salience to their constituency. Whether the use of that power to aid their electoral goals was/is "evil" is another matter. Would Democrats have done the same thing to hurt the Republicans if the situation were identical but reversed? I assume so, and I can easily imagine a scenario like this. That would be the relevant comparison, though, not Reid versus the Republicans.

"Reid killed it, on purpose. Just because he used Republican votes to do it doesn't change that."

You have no evidence for that, but the bigger problem is that it makes no sense. In reality, Republicans had the votes to kill it and then they actually did, just like they did with numerous other policies that a Democratic majority would've been happy to vote for along with a few Republicans. Whether they do it again is up to them. Harry Reid has no sway over any Republican.

Can Harry Reid set up votes to make it look like Democrats support gay-rights but secretly hate gays? Sure he could. This just isn't an example where any of his maneuvering would have led to a DADT repeal before the election. Republicans would have been stupid to allow that and I presume you do not think they are stupid.

can we all agree that the Senate (and its insane rules) is the dumbest part of the US government ?

"This just isn't an example where any of his maneuvering would have led to a DADT repeal before the election."

Aside from this statement, I agree with your view. It is tempered in reality. I also agree I have no evidence beyond my view, as expressed by Seb, that what he did made it seem that way. I see Sebs post as an opinion and your response

This just isn't an example where any of his maneuvering would have led to a DADT repeal before the election.

as another, viewing the same set of information.

"If on the other hand the next defense appropriations bill drops the DADT repeal provision, then you can burn Reid in effigie and more than one here will hand you the matches."

Be careful, because it appears that is exactly what is happening here:

In news from Capitol Hill, momentum appears to be growing for Congress to put off a vote to repeal the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy that bars gays and lesbians from openly serving in the armed forces. Democrat Carl Levin, the chair of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, and Republican Senator John McCain have begun discussing a possible plan to strip the provision from the annual Defense authorization bill.

In fact it was rumors of the above yesterday that spurred me to write about this at all.

Democrat Carl Levin, the chair of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, and Republican Senator John McCain have begun discussing a possible plan to strip the provision from the annual Defense authorization bill.

now why do you suppose they're having such a discussion ?

The other obstacle is in the concerns of Senator John McCain of Arizona, the senior Republican on the Armed Services Committee. Although Mr. McCain has said in the past that he would consider authorizing a repeal of the law once the Pentagon review was complete, he faced a challenge from the right in his recent re-election fight and campaigned, in part, on a promise to preserve the 17-year-old law that requires service members to keep their sexual orientation secret. Mr. McCain [fapfapfapwarhero] has continued to press against repeal.

Sebastion, sarcasm aside -- what you're asking is that we take the GOP claims here as good faith claims.

This. Thank you. I honestly can't believe I'm reading "But [Republican Senator] promised to vote for it!" offered in seriousness in 2010.

Wow a whole thread on Democrats = righteous and honest vs Republicans = evil and liars

No, not even close. It goes something more like this:

The Democrats, on the whole, pander to gay people like Seb and myself, take our votes and contributions for granted, and will rarely if ever lift a finger for us when it involves actually expending political capital. But at least they mostly pay lip-service to the notion that we're fully human and fully-fledged citizens.

The Republicans, on the whole, either hate our guts, or they're willing to pander to people who hate our guts for political expediency. In the eyes of the people they willfully pander to, we are less than fully human, we are damaged/diseased/depraved, and we are not deserving of equality under the law for this reason.

Which party is fighting for our interests in Washington? Neither. Either we fight for ourselves, or the fight doesn't get fought. It's that simple.

I'd hardly call that a case of "D good, R bad"...but that's what you wanted to see, so that's what you saw.

Well said Uncle K.

Which party is fighting for our interests in Washington? Neither

what of the things John Cole listed here ? they don't count ?

That's also a very good point cleek.

I'm pretty much in agreement with Uncle Kevtch on this one. The point for me is that like Republicans and pro-life voters, Democrats take gay votes for granted and pretty much aren't willing to expend any serious political capital. The fact that DADT repeal is supported by an enormous majority of Americans, and in many polls even a majority of Republicans, means that repealing DADT can't cost much political capital and on balance is at least as likely to hurt Republicans in close districts as it is to hurt Democrats.

But despite that, Democrats are still not willing to put forward much/any real political capital. Even when the case is supported by an enormous majority of Americans, they won't do it. There wasn't an even semi-serious push by the administration on the vote. And Reid's push on the vote, I've talked about above.

Yes, Democrats play better lip service to gay issues. My point is that it is mainly lip service. Not commitment.

And BTW [re cleek's link], the travel ban was ended under Bush, and under a MORE conservative Congress than we've had in the last two years. Despite the bipartisan efforts there, Obama still took over a year to get rid of it. You can't call that a triumph of Obama's administration.

But the Democrats did spend political capital on this. And as the Cole link shows, they do a lot more.

I think you can certainly criticize for not doing more, but I think it's important to keep some perspective on the differences between the two parties on these issues. Let's also not forget the 2004 elections - state and federal.

Bravo, Unka K!

Democrats believe that politics - for all its ulterior motivations - is still, when push comes to shove, essentially a means to deal with problems, whereas modern Republicans believe that politics is a way of life and that having power is an end in itself.

Is a tribal view worthy of Redstate.

Why is that necessarily tribal? It's merely tribal is it's wrong. But I think it's pretty accurate. Is everybody's favorite Tory (Andrew Sullivan) tribal? He could've written the same thing (only he would have done it better). So refute it, Marty.

I basically agree with Uncle K, although I think it's a little petulant to - at least by implication - equate both parties on this issue. Yes, neither party as a whole expends much political capital fighting for the civil rights of gay people. But one party is not fighting against, and certainly does spend some. That's hardly nothing. Parties as wholes also never fought for civil rights for African Americans or women either. Individuals did (esp LBJ), but whole parties? No.

But whole parties do fight *against*, as is currently the case. I didn't know Seb. was gay; now the sheer pathos of his blaming Harry Reid for the persistence of DADT is giving me a little vertigo...

DADT has been a long road of Democratic betrayals. Remember it was passed under a Democratic controlled Congress (both houses) and Democratic President, because of the specific resistance of extremely high ranking Democratic senators at the time.

DADT has been a long road of Democratic betrayals. Remember it was passed under a Democratic controlled Congress (both houses) and Democratic President, because of the specific resistance of extremely high ranking Democratic senators at the time.

So the Republicans were otherwise on board right? And as I recall, this policy (at the time) expanded the ability of gays to serve, right?

If the argument is "Dems could no more," that's obviously right.

If the argument is "Dems are anywhere close to GOP in badness on these issues," then I pretty much reject the entire line of argument -- strenuously.

Sorry if I'm being a bit short, but the election hasn't really put me in a good mood

"no more" should be "DO more". sorry

Right. DADT was an improvement over prior policy, remember.

what of the things John Cole listed here ? they don't count?

Sebastian's already dealt with some of this, but: yes, cleek, they count. But here's my own rather unorthodox rule of thumb for what really "counts" in this context: Were there howls of outrage from the right? Did Limbaugh and Beck and O'Reilly make hay out of any of those decisions? Were they fodder for Republican fundraisers? No...while these were good things, they did not involve a serious expenditure of political capital, or we would have heard a hell of a lot more about them than we did.

What people are looking for is some minuscule sign of courage...some sign that the people who claim to fight for our interests will do so even when it means a risk to their short-term political position, as a matter of principle. And that's what we're not seeing.

John Cole can punch all the straw hippies he wants, but when I look at his list, I figure that at this rate of "careful," "incremental" change, we can expect the repeal of DADT in about 50 years, the implementation of ENDA in 100, and same-sex marriage nationwide...never.

Beyond that, the sheer political tone-deafness has at times been staggering. Obama's recent comments that his views on SSM might "evolve" are a case in point. Did he not think about what that would sound like? Does he truly not understand that at a time when so may people are already feeling frustrated, this is worse than saying nothing at all? I don't give a rat's ass about his "views"--I care about his actions.

Shorter me: What Dan Savage said.

Also: last time repeal was put to a vote, 100% of GOP voted against repeal. Right?

I mean, that's gotta count for something.

The fact that DADT repeal is supported by an enormous majority of Americans, and in many polls even a majority of Republicans, means that repealing DADT can't cost much political capital and on balance is at least as likely to hurt Republicans in close districts as it is to hurt Democrats.

Brilliant. So why is it that all of these Republican senators keep getting reelected despite their vocal opposition to repealing DADT? If even a majority of Republicans want it gone then why was it that even without any added legislation there was enough solidarity to make passage of the repeal an iffy proposition? Why is it that now that the Republicans control the House the Marine Commandant and the Republicans are busy trying to make sure that it will not pass? Doesn't this mean that even the majority of Republicans that support the repeal prioritize opposition as an achievement more highly than enacting change that they support?

Please, no feigned innocence here. If it doesn't pass and it doesn't come up for a vote even after all these changes then "majority Republican support" for something that has a supposed supermajority means nothing and our system is well and truly broken.

Also, Reid is an inept jackass and the Dems are pandering to the middle and suppressing their own base because most of the Ds that get elected aren't real progressives and aren't willing to fight for anything left of center.

Therein lies the biggest difference. The Rs are willing to alienate the center for their base. The Ds are willing to alienate their base for the center. The Rs stand firm. The Ds seek consensus. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

If the argument is "Dems are anywhere close to GOP in badness on these issues," then I pretty much reject the entire line of argument -- strenuously.

But if the net result is the same, how much less bad are they? One side wants to keep DADT, while the other wants to get rid of it but is incapable of doing so, even when it's in its best position in Washington in years. At the end of the day, the result is...the same.

DADT was an improvement over prior policy, remember.

I'm pretty sure this isn't borne out by the facts, Eric. I think it's been pretty well documented that discharges went up under DADT over what had been happening previously. I'll see if I can find some links.

UK: But that wasn't because of DADT.

I mean, before DADT, homosexuals were NOT allowed to serve in the military, and recruiters and other personnel were free to ask questions about homosexuality, and to lie was a criminal offense.

Post DADT, they were not allowed to ask such questions.

Keep in mind, also, that sometimes soldiers use DADT to get out of the service - especially when deployments to war zones are coming up.

Alot of the mil guys I know want it repealed for that reason: they argue that too many people use it as a get of the military card.

Eric: this is what I was referring to. I know these numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt, but they do show discharges increasing year by year, up until 9/11.

But that wasn't because of DADT.

Then what was it because of?

Keep in mind, also, that sometimes soldiers use DADT to get out of the service - especially when deployments to war zones are coming up.

They could do that before DADT, too. What changed?

Marty said: I see Sebs post as an opinion and your response [This just isn't an example where any of his maneuvering would have led to a DADT repeal before the election.] as another, viewing the same set of information.

Are there not different facts here? The claim he makes is that by dropping the DREAM act it would have passed. The premise is that there were senators who opposed the DREAM act that supported DADT and just needed to see it dropped.

But the fact is that the Senators in question supported both in principle, under circumstances where they should reveal their sincere beliefs (or adhere to that of their States).

The only evidence in favor of the "Reid screwed gays" interpretation is Collins' claim about the amendments, which came about under circumstances where she was acting against her previously stated positions and had to create a rationale to filibuster the bill while supporting it in spirit. I think we have covered the value of that evidence sufficiently here.

There is overwhelming evidence that the GOP coordinated to filibuster every Democratic promise of significance, regardless of how many previously stated preferences needed to be reversed and how embarrassingly silly the excuses had to be. (and that doesn't make them "evil" by the way). So they would have to stop this in order to give Reid any leverage. It may still happen.

"The point for me is that like Republicans and pro-life voters, Democrats take gay votes for granted and pretty much aren't willing to expend any serious political capital."

What exactly would this look like?

Would it be about more strong public statements in support? If that's it, where do they get the capital to expend? How does more public association with unpopular politicians help any cause?

The Republicans want to kill anything that is either "Democrat" or "Obama" so if Democrats want to to see something killed, they ought to associate themselves with it more.

This dynamic will hold as long as Republicans can profit from this, which is to say, at least until the general mood of the country changes a great deal from the current state.

Then what was it because of?

Not sure, but it could be about the fact that since recruiters/applications were no longer asking that question, that more homosexuals served? Otherwise, what was it about DADT, what was it about DADT that increased the discharges if DADT didn't change status of homosexuals permitted to serve?

They could do that before DADT, too. What changed?

Good question. I'll ask. Maybe the process was streamlined? Or maybe, again, since DADT removed initial filter of "asking" new recruits, it just became more widely used because more homosexuals were serving?

yes, cleek, [Cole's list] count[s]. But here's my own rather unorthodox rule of thumb for what really "counts" in this context: Were there howls of outrage from the right? Did Limbaugh and Beck and O'Reilly make hay out of any of those decisions?

That's not merely unorthodox; it's a very poor rule of thumb, UK. It's not any different in kind from Seb's assumption that Collins would've voted 'yea' had Reid acted differently. It's unprovable and unknowable. Absence of howls on those particular things proves exactly nothing. I'm sure they were busy howling about something else anyway (like the 'Ground Zero Mosque', probably). I'd like to see a bit of courage from dems too - preferably not the quiet kind. I'd like to see it both for the substantive good it would do, but also for the political good it would do. I'm convinced that the Democrats are hated, above all, less for their positions than for their cowardice and fecklessness.

I'd like to add a special note of scorn here for most gay Republicans - log cabin or otherwise. I will leave aside the obvious dissonance of support for a party whose public policy is to persecute gay people - I'll leave that one for the shrinks and the professional rationalizers. But you would think that an historically oppressed, very small, minority, would have some natural feeling for justice for other people (I'm not going to go the Catsy route and say 'ought'). You most certainly can be a conservative and gay, but the modern GOP is hardly conservative in any coherent sense of that word. The GOP works to preserve the prerogatives of wealthy people. You want your civil rights (and you should have them), but you also want to keep your tax breaks, and to hell with poor people and soon-to-be-poor people. You can tell yourself that what you're really interested in is 'smaller government', but the evidence suggests otherwise.

Sorry for the hector, but, Yuck.

jonnybutter, I typed a draft, but you said it better than I did, thank you.

And molosky, yes, you too. Wonderful post! What does it look like when Democrats "spend political capital"? It looks like what has now morphed into the "Health Spending Bill." And killing the formerly Republican cap and trade. I would like nothing better than to hear Democrats turn into an effective megaphone for social justice and income equality, but I haven't seen it happen. And I'm not sure it's the fault of the Democrats either. Much of the country is stupid, small-minded and mean spirited, even when it's in their self-interest not to be. And, don't know whether this is "evil," but it's certainly not good.

"They could do that before DADT, too. What changed?

Good question. I'll ask. Maybe the process was streamlined? Or maybe, again, since DADT removed initial filter of "asking" new recruits, it just became more widely used because more homosexuals were serving?"

Besides the more obvious reason that there were more deployments and redeployments over the last ten years.

And to no particular point, my personal experience was that, with the advent of the volunteer Army in 1973, DADT was a policy for the last 36 years. I knew many gay servicemen and women when I was in the Army (74-77) and they were not sought out or harassed except in two cases:

1) They purposefully declared their sexual status, in which case they were processed out per (at the time)new rules and it was a quick and quiet general discharge.

2) There was a specific complaint of "inappropriate" sexual behavior, in which case they were processed out, after minimal due process, the same way.

In every case I was aware of during that time, the complaining party was angry about something else and used this as the way to get back at the gay serviceperson.

Some fine soldiers were here one day and gone tomorrow, unfortunately.

Sebastian,

Reid had the opportunity to prove that point on his own. He could have forced Republicans, including Collins to clearly vote against the repeal if he had desired it. He did not desire that the issue be clear.

This is crucial. There is no need to isolate the blame here. Sure the Republicans killed it, but Reid could have done a much better job. He's very far from blameless.

Like others here, I'm fed up with the whole Collins-Snowe "moderate" shtick. If they want the credit for being sensible, reasonable Republicans then they need to earn it. And Reid ought to make them. He didn't.

As an aside, I'm tired of having majority leaders who hold vulnerable seats. Whether Reid acted out of self-preservation this time or not, having a leader who is constantly looking over his shoulder like that is just a bad idea. It was a bad idea with Daschle and it's a bad idea now.

Good point re: majority leaders BY.

"He could have forced Republicans, including Collins to clearly vote against the repeal if he had desired it."

He could have forced her to 'vote against cloture' on the repeal, a vote she could easily explain away. Her main concern is the primary.

it's all about McCain. a Republican, last i checked.

FYI, my latest BJ link was supposed to go to comment #6 on the linked post.

it reads, partially, as follows:

On a more positive note, I just had a lovely conversation with Katie from the office of the Senate Armed Service Committee when I made my call to express my support for repeal of DADT. She happened to mention that she had received multiple calls today relating to this and wanted to know where I had heard about the number. She said last time this happened, Chris Matthews had put up the number on Hardball.

She also stated that Levin still supports retaining the repeal language, it is McCain pushing for removal. Our calls matter; if you support repeal of DADT, I encourage you to call the senate committee office and tell them that. The language has not been removed from the bill yet.

"It's not any different in kind from Seb's assumption that Collins would've voted 'yea' had Reid acted differently. It's unprovable and unknowable."

But it is unknowable because Reid didn't want it to be clear. If he believes that it is a cause worth spending political capital on, it is his job to make the choices clear. So you have to conclude either that he did not think it was worth spending political capital on, or that he sucks at his job as majority leader [or both].

"So why is it that all of these Republican senators keep getting reelected despite their vocal opposition to repealing DADT? If even a majority of Republicans want it gone then why was it that even without any added legislation there was enough solidarity to make passage of the repeal an iffy proposition?"

Because for a lot of straight people it just isn't that big of deal one way or another.

Which is precisely why Democratic officials shouldn't be as afraid of the issue as they clearly are.

And BTW, I still haven't seen a good defense of tying it to the DREAM act. Is anyone even going to try?

Look at the political calculation this way. If about 70% of Americans are anti-DADT, Democrats should be willing to stick to the repeal on the military bill. What are Republicans going to do? Fail to authorize a military budget on the grounds of opposing something that 70% of Americans are ok with? How is that going to gain in-play votes?

Now add in the DREAM bill. Liberalizing immigration reform rarely polls above 50%, and certainly not in the middle of the biggest recession in 50 years. Now you've provided something that Republicans can use as an appeal to in-play votes.

Those are two really different scenarios, right?

If about 70% of Americans are anti-DADT, Democrats should be willing to stick to the repeal on the military bill. What are Republicans going to do? Fail to authorize a military budget on the grounds of opposing something that 70% of Americans are ok with? How is that going to gain in-play votes?

It passed the House by about 53%, not 70%. Senate representation in terms of populace is even worse (remember how the 6 senators who worked on HCR for 6 months represented 4% of the US population).

Abolish the Senate.

What are Republicans going to do? Fail to authorize a military budget on the grounds of opposing something that 70% of Americans are ok with?

Yes.

This has been another episode of SATSQ.

And Democrats are uninterested in trying to make Republicans look bad over failing to authorize a military budget on the grounds of opposing something that 70% of Americans are ok with?

Why?

Because they're inept and cowardly, and also realize that the popular & media narrative would be, "Democrats fail to pass defense appropriations bill," rather than "Republicans kill defense appropriations bill over gay service issue."

And Democrats are uninterested in trying to make Republicans look bad over failing to authorize a military budget on the grounds of opposing something that 70% of Americans are ok with?

As you implicitly acknowledge above, that 70% "OK" is a mile wide and a millimeter deep. The other 30%, on the other hand, are impassioned and mobilized. That's a perfect recipe for demagoguery -- the soft, squishy middle is a pushover in a situation like this. You know how this plays out as well as anyone else here, Sebastian:

Republican charge: "The Democrats would rather pander to radical homosexual activists* than ensure that Our Brave Men and Women in Uniform get the resources they need to rid the world of evil."

Democratic response: "I am not a dirty f*cking hippie, and I'm prepared to go all Sister Souljah on the gays to prove it. It's not like they have anyone else to vote for, anyway."

*See what I did there? "I have no problem with gay people...that Sebastian down the street is a perfectly nice fellow, for instance...but those radical activists, that's a different story..."

"That's a perfect recipe for demagoguery -- the soft, squishy middle is a pushover in a situation like this. You know how this plays out as well as anyone else here, Sebastian:"

It's perfect for demagoguery *to the people already voting Republican*.

So what? They aren't voting for you anyway. What they think is irrelevant for your political calculations.

So what? They aren't voting for you anyway. What they think is irrelevant for your political calculations.

I assume you've never heard of turnout? Not aware that increasing bigot turnout is the main purpose of Republican demagoguery?

It's perfect for demagoguery *to the people already voting Republican*.

And also to the much-vaunted "independents," many of whom are low-information voters easily swayed by gut-level emotional appeals.

You yourself said the issue isn't all that important for a lot of the people who nominally favor repeal of DADT. What that means is that it's easily superseded by things that are deemed more important, especially a hot-button issue: "Sure, it would be nice to let the gays have equality...but is it worth defunding the military to make it happen?"

And that would be a very effective ploy with some voters. You'd need a Democratic leadership with real guts and political savvy to counter it effectively, and even then, they might take a political hit for it. Because demagoguery is the Republicans' stock in trade, and they're damn good at it.

That's the extent of my point.

But this is all moot, because we both know that Harry Reid has neither guts nor savvy. He has shown himself to be supremely ineffectual even by Democratic standards, and that's really saying something.

"You'd need a Democratic leadership with real guts and political savvy to counter it effectively, and even then, they might take a political hit for it."

You'd have to be willing to spend a little bit of political capital to actually make the case. Absolutely. And the Democratic Party is generally not willing to do so.

Which is exactly my point. And in some cases, they seem to be willing to trade gay issues away. (See for example the current suggestion that DREAM will stay attached while DADT-repeal won't).

Anyone care to explain the sense in that? Is immigration suddenly a non-demagoguable issue? I would have sworn I'd heard *something* about immigration from Republicans at some point.

Anyone care to explain the sense in that?

John McCain won't let the defense bill go forward if DADT is part of it. he's been filibustering it since September.

cloture. 60 votes. Senate. etc..

Elsewhere, from a hypothetical individual named Sebastián:

Harry Reid screwed over Hispanic young people by attaching the popular DREAM act to a controversial repeal of the longstanding Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.

In a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll in April 2009, 48 percent of Americans favored maintaining the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Thirty-seven percent opposed the policy because they believed it treated homosexuals too harshly, while another 8 percent opposed it because they believed it treated homosexuals too leniently.

(Italics mine)

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