Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, November 21, 2008


The conservative Washington Times reports that Obama will still seek to repeal the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, but that he will wait for several months to do so, perhaps until 2010.

While obviously I would love Obama to fulfill his promises on gay rights as soon as possible, I must agree that Obama's main domestic priorities should be the economy, health care, and global warming: The nation faces more important challenges right now, and anything having to do with gay rights unfortunately would be a dangerous distraction.

Apparently, the Obama transition team has held informal discussions with the legal groups that have been working on this issue, and they been forthright about their strategy. Though we must never stop pushing, I do appreciate the honesty, and I recognize that this combination of caution and commitment is probably just what the country needs right now.


The Law Talking Guy said...

The problem, as you know, Dr.S., isn't really about priorities. It's the fact that Bill Clinton is viewed as having met his Waterloo on Day One with the "gays-in-the-military" thing, and Obama definitely does not want to repeat that. If that history of failure did not exist, I'm quite certainly changing this policy would be among one of his earliest executive orders. For similar reasons, he has to keep the Clintons away from any health care proposal. For health care, it is widely viewed (conventional wisdom is important in such things) that Mr. Clinton's biggest failure was (1) involving Mrs. Clinton and (2) waiting more than 8 months to put a bill together and allowing GOP opposition to coalesce around this point. He needs to make this agenda item #1 and get it done.

Dr. Strangelove said...

You argue it is more an issue of timing than priority. Maybe. I am not sure the distinction is all that significant.

USwest said...

I am not sure now, with the military fulling employed in two wars, is a good time to rock the boat on this issue. It think it will better addressed once we have pulled out of Iraq and made some progress on Afghanistan.

At the moment, I think the military is a lot more broken than people would like to admit. And I have it on good information that inspector generals across several military bases have seen an uptick in investigations of soliders bitching about Obama. They seem to think that because he isn't president yet, they can vent their spleen. That ain't so. This trend worries me a great deal for reasons I need not explain.

All around, I don't think it wise to challenge the military in this issue now, especially when Obama doesn't have a military record. Let Obama prove to the military that he is worthy of their respect beyond their constitutional obligatoin to serve their commander and chiff, then he will have a better shot at success. I am frankly surprised that they are even thinking about that issue at all, unless they see it as a way of letting the gay community know their sympathies without having to take any real action.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I totally disagree with USWeston this one. Obama will be the commander in chief, and that should be sufficient to command full respect and obedience from the military. As with integrating the military in 1948 or allowing women to serve in non-combat roles, this is something where deference to the military is unwise and unwarranted.

The only problem Obama faces is that the total screwup Clinton had with the issue 15 years ago associated with doing it as a first thing in the administration. That means that this will cost A LOT more political capital than it otherwise would have. It also means that there is a peculiar political hazard and cost to trying to do this out of the box, rather than waiting. But for the history of the issue, I think the timing would be moved up because I believe this basic anti-discriminatino issue is, in fact, reasonably high on Obama's priority list.

USWest said...

We will have to agree to disagree, then.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I think LTG is right that Obama should not and need not wait to "prove" he is worthy of respect--the military will respect the Commander and Chief. I think Obama's actual concern is with the Congress.

Obama's top priorities are health care, education, and the economy. Obama surely recognizes that holding Congressional hearings on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would distract and divide the Democrats.

I disagree somewhat with LTG on the impact of Clinton's efforts in 1993. Because of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the question is no longer whether gays can serve, but whether they may serve openly. The honorable service of thousands of gay soldiers has helped change many minds. It is worth noting that 28 retired generals have now asked for the ban to be lifted, including former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Shalikashvili. Even though Clinton failed in 1992, thanks to that effort Obama now faces a lesser change in policy with a larger number of allies in the military.

USWest is right, however, that Obama will have a much easier time implementing this change if he does what she suggests: focusing on healing and helping our overburdened armed forces. If Obama demonstrates his commitment to aiding the military, they will return the favor. The military will obey his commands either way, but there is a real difference between reluctant and willing obedience.

Raised By Republicans said...

If the courts in Iowa rule in favor of marriage equality, that may change the political terrain - even in the military.

It's worth remembering that the Military screamed about racial integration and that took place either immediately prior to or during the Korean war. I think at some point the military has to submit to civilian control and I also think that it is a very bad idea to allow the military to remain a heavily armed Evangelical Conservative institution.

Perhaps step one would be clean house among the chaplain corps.