Archive for December 19th, 2010

Ere He Catches The Recruiting Sergeant’s Eye

The United States Senate voted 65-31 Saturday to repeal the Clinton-era “don’t ask don’t tell” policy restricting the service of gay people in the United States military. Coupled with the 250-175 vote for repeal in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, this means the policy is effectively dead, the bill awaiting only the president’s signature.

That DADT would be repealed during the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency was an inevitability to anyone who both listened to, and believed, President Obama, and Massachusetts Congressmember Barney Frank.

In April of 2008, then-candidate Obama told the Advocate that he supported DADT repeal, and that he believed repeal was something he could “reasonably” accomplish during his presidency. In July of that year, still a candidate, Obama told the Military Times that repeal “is not something that I’m looking to shove down the military’s throats,” that “I want to make sure that we are doing it in a thoughtful and principled way.”

In December of 2008, after Obama had been elected president, together with a Democratic Congress, Congressmember Frank said: “I’m confident we’ll be able to repeal [DADT] in the first Congress, in the first two years—but I think the priority has to be to get the Iraq policy set, and then move to repeal it.” Frank repeated much the same message to the New Yorker a month later: “After the troops get home from Iraq, gays in the military. The time has come.”

Retired Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett, one of more than a hundred senior military officials who signed off on a November 2008 statement supporting DADT repeal, stated at the time that it was important for the Obama administration to first lay the groundwork for such a repeal. “I think that they’re going to want to talk to a lot of people, including the military leaders—talk about how it can be implemented, what the ramifications and implications are, and how they can go forth on a step-by-step process,” Barnett said. “And I personally would not ask for anything more than that.”

Throughout 2009, President Obama met numerous times with senior Pentagon officials to discuss DADT repeal. In January of 2010, in his State of the Union address, he pronounced repeal a priority, and vowed to work with Congress to accomplish it by the end of the year.

Several days later, both Obama’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Congress that they favored DADT repeal. Mullen’s support, in particular, surprised not only gay activists, but also members of Congress.

Gates shortly thereafter announced an “exhaustive” nine-month Pentagon review of the DADT policy, which ultimately concluded that repeal would not only not result in the destruction of the United States military, but was either supported by, or mattered not a whit to, some 70% of active-duty military personnel.

In October of 2010, President Obama told a group of liberal bloggers that he was pursuing a strategy that he expected to result in the repeal of DADT during the lame-duck session of the 111th Congress:

Q: Well, can I ask you just about “don’t ask, don’t tell,” just following up? I just want to follow up. Because you mentioned it—

Obama: Yes, sure. Go ahead.

Q: Is there a strategy for the lame-duck session to—

Obama: Yes.

Q: And you’re going to be involved?

Obama: Yes.

Q: Will Secretary Gates be involved?

Obama: I’m not going to tip my hand now. But there is a strategy.

Q: Okay.

Obama: And, look, as I said—

Q: Can we call it a secret plan?  (Laughter.)

Obama: I was very deliberate in working with the Pentagon so that I’ve got the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs being very clear about the need to end this policy. That is part of a strategy that I have been pursuing since I came into office. And my hope is that will culminate in getting this thing overturned before the end of the year . . . Now, as usual, I need 60 votes. So I think that, Joe, the folks that you need to be having a really good conversation with—and I had that conversation with them directly yesterday, but you may have more influence than I do—is making sure that all those Log Cabin Republicans who helped to finance this lawsuit and who feel about this issue so passionately are working the handful of Republicans that we need to get this thing done . . . [T]he only really thing you need to do is make sure that we get two to five Republican votes in the Senate . . . Because what I do anticipate is that John McCain and maybe some others will filibuster this issue, and we’re going to have to have a cloture vote. If we can get through that cloture vote, this is done.

Prior to the Senate vote to repeal, cloture on a McCain-led filibuster was achieved by a vote of 63-33.

Now that DADT repeal has indeed been accomplished, will there be a retraction of the hundreds of thousands of hot words spewed over at the shriek shack these past many months, condemning the Jim Crow homophobe Barack Obama, and his running-dog lap-dog Barney Frank?

Of course not.



When I Worked

December 2010
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