October 18, 2010

"Obama’s go-slow 'don't ask, don't tell' plan backfires."

The headline in Politico.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton nearly derailed his presidency with an early move to end the military’s ban on gay service members. Aides scrambled to craft the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as a compromise to get the politically radioactive issue off the new administration’s back.

President Barack Obama’s aides were intent, above all else, on not repeating that experience when it came to carrying out their campaign promise to open up the military to gays, so they moved cautiously.
Give them credit: They found a new way to screw things up.
The result: Obama now faces his own political crisis over the issue that threatens his support from key Democratic constituencies, undermines his relationship with the Pentagon and puts him in the odd position of defending a practice he has denounced as discriminatory and harmful to national security.

“It’s crazy that all this is happening 2½ weeks before a national election,” said Richard Socarides, an adviser to Clinton on gay issues during the ’93 fiasco. “The timing could not be worse for them, but it was fairly predictable that their strategy of postponing and delaying getting into this stuff was, at some point, going to come back to haunt them.”
So, this technique of going slow resulted in the troublesome matter heating up at exactly the point when they least wanted us to notice. Poetic justice.

The article has a lot of detail on the way the lawsuits progressed in court, including the decision not to appeal the 9th Circuit case (Witt) that would have brought the question of the constitutionality of DADT to the Supreme Court — with Elena Kagan, then Solicitor General, defending the statute.

Meanwhile, there was the Log Cabin Republicans' lawsuit, which was filed in 2004 and proceeded terribly slowly under Judge George Schiavelli (a Bush appointee). Schiavelli resigned in 2008, and the new judge, Virginia Phillips, a Clinton appointee, got things going, and she hit Obama with her decision that DADT is unconstitutional on September 9th of this year. Ironically, her decision was based on the heightened scrutiny standard announced in the Witt case that the Obama administration chose not to appeal. Funny, the way a President can't control the courts.
Phillips said it was hard to accept the Justice Department’s arguments that the law was constitutionally sound when Obama was telling audiences that “reversing this policy ... is essential for national security.”

“Obama’s made a lot of statements that we’ve been using as evidence against the government,” said Log Cabin attorney Dan Woods. “They’re in a very awkward position.”
Tangled in their own web.

35 comments:

DADvocate said...

A lot of things have changed since 1993. Apparently, Obama's and his administration are unaware of this.

AJ Lynch said...

I think the military is already open to gays.

Bob Ellison said...

Politico's analysis is correct. Obama's message lately has been "Mark my words: DADT will end on my watch." Well, Mr. POTUS, get to it! It's law, so he can't just brush it aside, but he has only words and no actions to show that he will end it. So he looks like a wimpy Commander in Chief who can't command, a weak leader who can't control his party and his government, and a blowhard who doesn't have the guts to push something past his detractors.

In short, a jerk.

Scott M said...

This whole affair has always been about do-gooderism up against reality. Simply waving a magic wand to remove the policy does nothing to address the underlying problems. Thus it goes will just about all do-gooderisms.

pm317 said...

Poetic justice, indeed. I remember one video (didn't watch too many) from the campaign'08 where Obama disdainfully says about politicians in DC given one too many chances and years to do the right thing but they don't and why give them one more chance. His wife went around saying it is not rocket science, everybody knows what to do but lack the will power (so she said Barack will clean their souls). Good rhetoric but what will he do now? She is at least cleansing people's palate of desserts with her will power.

traditionalguy said...

What an intriguing result from Obama's "Community Organizing 101" tactics used here. The Community organizer tries to use the "slowly heat the water trick" to boil out the dominant Frogs. But in this case the frogs all started leaping out of the pot at once just as if Obama had poured in hot water at the beginning. There must be some other answer to this sudden use of reality against The Great Organizer's latest lies. I don't know the answer. But one guess is that the near death to America experience that we all went through with Obama, Pelosi and Gore's Global Warming caused by CO2 supestition has shocked ALL sides of the debate into demanding truth from High Priest Obama. He is far too dangerous to treat as another confused Harvard educated idiot...the man is dangerous to all sides that live and enjoy life in America.

Quayle said...

Supporting gay rights is a principled stance unless you want votes, then it has to be slow-rolled.

And this passes for leadership these days.

Compare to Rosa Parks who actually did stop riding the bus.

Kirby Olson said...

My local paper said that Alexander the Great was gay, and that this meant that good military leaders could be gay. So we should accept gays in the military.

I wouldn't know. I wouldn't make such a good soldier.

Obama was also never a soldier.

He's now CIC.

But I doubt if he'd have made a good soldier. Colin Powell was a good soldier. What does he think about it? That would be relevant to the issue.

I think it should be left up to the military brass to decide, rather than leave it up to armchair judges -- many of whom have never served.

I've never even fired a gun. I doubt if Lady Gaga has either.

I'm not in the business of defending the country (except verbally). I do think the military should decide, and people who've served should decide this, based on what they think is best in terms of defending our country, and attacking countries who pose a threat to us.

What proportions are we talking about? How many gay people are in the military?

Can they find significant American heroes -- Medal of Honor winners, etc. -- who were gay?

I'd think those would make good precedents for establishing the truth of their argument.

This administration has lost its ability to argue persuasively, and now just says, "well, we won, so it's going to be like this."

For another two weeks, perhaps, that might be true.

PatCA said...

It's an article of faith on the left that the American populace are stupid. Most of Obama's missteps are grounded in that belief.

I guess he was wrong.

garage mahal said...

Obama is like Strom Thurmond.

Salamandyr said...

Ironic that the Obama Administration's appeal is based on a strict constructionalist argument; that something can be wrong and a bad idea and not be unconstitutional.

Bob Ellison said...

@Kirby, I'm with you, mostly. But I disagree that the military brass should have all the power in this question. When Truman ordered desegregation of the military, much of the military didn't like it, nor did much of Congress. We did it anyway, because Truman wasn't a wimp, and that change was one of the great triumphs of American military history. The several armed forces are among the most revered institutions in America.

In most cases, comparisons of civil rights (mostly for blacks and women) to gay rights fall apart because the issues are so different, but in this case it's a good analogy. Simple math demonstrates that America must have had plenty of gays and lesbians who served heroically in the armed forces. Searching for them to hold up as examples would not likely be very fruitful because of the obvious stigma.

And yes, Obama was never a soldier, but he is the CinC. He was tough enough to fire McChrystal. Why isn't he tough enough to do what he says we must do WRT DADT?

He should put up or shut up.

Fen said...

Can they find significant American heroes -- Medal of Honor winners, etc. -- who were gay?

I'd think those would make good precedents for establishing the truth of their argument


I'm a former Marine. The argument isn't about whether gays make good soldiers. They do. In fact, most historical accounts imply that gay's fight more fiercely and heroically than straights.

The argument is about unit cohesion. Its the same reason we don't want females in victor units - the males stop bonding as a wolfpack and start competing against each other for the female's favours. That, and the issue of gender privacy (females dressing and showering with males).

The Ghost said...

the DADT issue is not about the ability of gays to perform their jobs in the military.
Nobody can seriously argue that they can't do the job. This is not about gay rights, it is about the rights of the majority of service members to not be forced to live in "mixed" common quarters.
That is what the military is even now studying ... they will most likely come back with a proposal that lays out how gays can be openly integrated into the services and I doubt it will be a one size fits all solution for all the branches.

Fen said...

most historical accounts imply that gays fight more fiercely and heroically than straights.

When I said this, I was thinking of "bedwarmers" in the Roman armies. Someone with more historical knowledge on the topic may want to correct me...

edutcher said...

The piece has less to do with homosexuals in the military than The Zero's political heavy-handedness. That Politico is bringing this up is proof of how the media is starting to bail on him.

Then again, since we've never seen his academic transcripts, so exactly how do we know he's as smart as we were told he is.

(Same as his medical records. Next to them, the birth cert is small fry.)

Scott M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott M said...

Fen - there's a been a wide swath of history since the Roman empire, wouldn't you say? Quite a few of those subsequent societies had serious taboos on gay relationships. Thus, I would doubt, that hard data on the quantifiable ferocity of known gay soldiers is much thicker than a pamphlet on Jewish sports heroes.

Fen said...

Fen - there's a been a wide swath of history since the Roman empire, wouldn't you say?

Yes, but the fault is mine for not being familiar enough with it to present examples pro/con

Quite a few of those subsequent societies had serious taboos on gay relationships.

I'm of a mind that our core laws are nothing more than a codification of Morality. So I think societies made taboo for some good reason that protected their society/tribe etc.

Fen said...

My local paper said that Alexander the Great was gay

Not really. Different culture. Bedwarmers were common and accepted by society, but only young males. It was tabbo for an older male to be a "bottom". Kind of an experiment and then start making kids approach.

Palladian understands the topic more than me (in fact, I'm just repeating what he taught me). If he steps into the thread, maybe he can add more (or clarify whatever I messed up)

Pastafarian said...

Hey, is it just me, or did about 15 minutes worth of comments just disappear into the ether?

I could have sworn that I'd contributed a couple of comments to this thread. Not that it's any great loss; but there were some intelligent comments there too, in addition to my stupid observations and opinions.

edutcher said...

For the record, Alexander swung both ways, but mostly the prescribed way. At a certain age, one was expected to leave same sex behind. Al had a companion from childhood with whom the relationship was strong friendship plus, in all probability, a little sex.

former law student said...

The article has a lot of detail on the way the lawsuits progressed in court, including the decision not to appeal the 9th Circuit case (Witt) that would have brought the question of the constitutionality of DADT to the Supreme Court — with Elena Kagan, then Solicitor General, defending the statute.

This statement makes no sense. Witt filed suit in 2006, and the Ninth Circuit ruled on it in May, 2008, remanding it back to the District Court. Kagan would not be the Solicitor General for some eight months, because GW Bush was still President.

The District Court's ruling has just come out -- September 24, 2010 -- too late for Solicitor General Kagan to act because she is now Justice Kagan.

So WTF are they talking about?

former law student said...

The Ninth Circuit held that Witt's challenge must be an "as-applied" challenge and not a facial challenge. Thus DADT may be unconstitutional in Witt's case, but constitutional in every other case.

Robin said...

Fen, Roman armies punished homosexual acts between legion soldiers with death. A rather brutal death in fact.

El Pollo Real said...

The Ghost wrote: This is not about gay rights, it is about the rights of the majority of service members to not be forced to live in "mixed" common quarters.

This could be win-win as far as jobs and economic recovery goes. The easiest solution would be to build out existing quarters, expanding them to include separate L, G, B, and T sleeping quarters. Construction industries have been hit the hardest in CA so maybe here is the best place to start.

Fen said...

@ Robin - thanks for the correction

The easiest solution would be to build out existing quarters, expanding them to include separate L, G, B, and T sleeping quarters.

Except you cant house the bisexuals together. LOL.

Can't wait to see them refit the USS Wasp like this. What a cluster.

Maguro said...

Can't wait to see them refit the USS Wasp like this. What a cluster.

Precisely!

Cedarford said...

The ironic thing is the people most in favor of Gays in the military, tend to be the liberals and progressive Jews of Hollywood, NYC, the media - least likely to serve themselves.
While the strongest opposition is from groups that form the volunteer military - culturally conservative blacks, hispanics, native Americans, small town whites.
The military estimates that gay service is in the low single digits, will be in the low single digits if DADT is ended, and that for every gay attracted to volunteer, they could lose between 15 and 30 straight volunteers. (The range depends on how many scandals involving gay officers and NCOs develop and the impact not just on recruits - but parents concerned the AF just busted 9 lesbians at two AFBs intimidating young females into homosexual acts. Parents who may decide young Sally or Lakisha or Juanita is best off staying out of the military)

If you look at the "gays in the military activists" you see few actually wanting in - gaining that right is meant as a "marker" of moral authority. Positioning politically for the next argument -since gays are now fully accepted and fighting and dying for America - it is unpatriotic and unAmerican to oppose gay marriage, encouraging teens to experiment with how gay they wish to see they are, time for the churches to back off - given the hero troops!

Sort of like the feminist drive to have "women in combat". Few feminists like the military or want females in combat - but sought it because it was an excellent stalking horse for their "glass ceiling" "pay disparity" arguments in the civilian job market.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Fen: The argument is about unit cohesion. Its the same reason we don't want females in victor units - the males stop bonding as a wolfpack and start competing against each other for the female's favours. That, and the issue of gender privacy (females dressing and showering with males).

How do the British and Israelis deal with this issue?

Chase said...

How do the British and Israelis deal with this issue?

We don't really know - do we?

I mean, when was the last time either's military was called to do even a thousandth of a percent of what the US military does around the world on a daily basis?

Seriously.

In other words, Jason - how everyone else does it doesn't matter. It's apples to oranges, J.

Write back if you don't get what that means.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Chase: Write back if you don't get what that means.

I grew up in apple country and I live in orange country so I can say without a doubt they are both fruit and therefore especially germane to the issue being discussed.

And someone who says the British haven't (lately) done even a thousandth of what the Americans have done is clearly clueless of the military situation around the world.

Blue@9 said...

Maybe they can make all-gay formations, a modern-day Theban Sacred Band. As Fen said, the fighting ability of gays isn't in question.

And yeah, Alexander wasn't gay so much as bisexual, assuming you want to use those labels. It was pretty common for men to have intimate relationships with younger men or same-aged companions. It may sound gross to many of us, but it was just a very different kind of society.

Jamie said...

Seems to me that a Sacred Band is almost the ONLY way to make it work... How do you house people? If the quarters are private, OK, no huge problem except for showering (and please forgive my ignorance; my experience with military quarters was limited to being a married officer's dependent child). But if quarters are shared, what do you do? Put (for instance) one gay man in with three straight women, on the grounds that HE won't be attracted to THEM? But they could sure make his life difficult. Put a bunch of gay men together? Attraction certainly possible. I dunno. (Of course, reversing the genders, the same problems pertain.)

Jamie said...

And P.S., housing is of course not the only problem. But unit cohesion is harder to measure.