First, I can't believe he said "you look like a student" to a woman who identified herself as a member of a university faculty. That is an irrelevant and, I would say, sexist remark. Not only is it equivalent to saying "gee, you're pretty," but it's revealing that you have a picture of what professors are supposed to look like and you don't mind derailing the conversation to say she doesn't look like one. I know it's supposed to be a compliment, but it's really clueless. Believe me, I've had people say "you don't look like a law professor" or some such thing to me thousands of times over the last quarter century, and I remain superficially polite, but I can tell you it is not appropriate in a professional setting. Unless we are in a social context where it would be welcome for you to say "you look beautiful," then you should not say "you look like a student." Okay?
Now, to the substance: The woman, Bridget Todd, asks the President:
I know that you’ve mentioned that you want the Senate to repeal it before you do it yourself.
My question is — you as the President can sort of have an executive order that ends it once and for all as Harry Truman did for integration of the military in in '48. So I wonder, why don’t you do that if this is a policy that you are committed to ending?Obama responds with a lot of words:
First of all, I haven’t “mentioned” that I’m against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.Oh, lord, he begins by getting all pedantic about words. I'll get pedantic back. She didn't say he mentioned that he was against DADT. She said he mentioned that he wanted the Senate to repeal it instead of doing something that he might be able to do on his own.
I have said very clearly, including in a State of the Union Address, that I am against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and that we’re going to end this policy.Fine, so he's repeating the promise that some people feel very bad that he has not kept.
That’s point number one. Point number two, the difference between my position right now and Harry Truman’s, is that Congress explicitly passed a law that took away the power of the executive branch to end this policy unilaterally. So this is not a situation in which, with the stroke of a pen, I can simply end the policy.
Now having said that, what I have been able to do is for the first time get the Chairman of the Joint Chief’s of Staff, Mike Mullen, to say he thinks the policy should end. The Secretary of Defense has said he recognizes that the policy needs to change. And we, I believe, have enough votes in the Senate to remove to go ahead and remove this constraint on me as the House has already done so that I can go ahead and end it.But, as the linked blog post (by Jane Hamsher) indicates, he doesn't have the votes in the Senate and he hasn't put the weight of the presidency behind getting Senators to vote for repeal. He seems like he's using the statute as an excuse, so that he can play both sides on this issue. I understand the political motivation for that, but it amounts to breaking his promise to end DADT.
Now we recently had a Supreme Court — a district court case — that said DADT is unconstitutional. I agree with the basic principle that anybody who wants to serve in our armed forces, and make sacrifices on our behalf, on behalf of our national security, anybody should be able to serve. And they shouldn’t have to lie about who they are in order to serve.So don't appeal the case! Say you think the court got it right! Or say that you think DADT isn't unconstitutional. It's just bad policy, and you object to the judiciary taking over in this area.
And so we are moving in the direction of ending this policy. It has to be done in a way that is orderly because we are involved in a war right now.That's pretty much a cloaked statement that he thinks the court was wrong and that the policy is constitutional. It's not "orderly" for the court to strike it down. The judiciary shouldn't be supervising the military. I'm going to assert with confidence that that is his opinion.
But this is not a question of whether the policy will end. This policy will end, and it will end on my watch.The arc of history is long! Keep waiting, oh captive voters. Who else are you going to vote for?
But I do have an obligation to make sure that I’m following some of the rules.Some of the rules?! Man, if you are only following some of the rules, why not give gay people a break?
I can’t simply ignore laws that are out there. I have to work to make sure they are changed.Pssst. The Constitution is law.