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, May 08, 2009

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

So a number of people are grumbling that the Obama administration is dragging its feet on doing anything about gay rights. This is correct; he is. Some suggest that he is doing this out of conviction, i.e., that really doesn't care about gay rights. More on that in a minute.

Other suggest that he is doing this out of political expedience. The administration's fear is that broaching social issues now will destroy the post-2006 Democratic coalition that invited rural Democrats who disagree with urban Democrats on social issues to join the party if they were generally in line with the economic issues. The payoff to rural Democrats for not supporting Republican candidates or legislative initiatives on social issues is that the Democrats will deprioritize social issues altogether. Obama wants to keep this coalition together to pass health care reform and education reform, among other things. Gay rights can come later, right after the 2010 midterm elections but far enough in advance of the 2012 elections to defuse the issue.

Still others see this as just more evidence of the idea that Obama really doesn't care enough about gay rights to give that a proper priority. Just sit in the back of the bus and wait. This is hard to deny also. Human rights are a top priority, not a low one. I can't blame those who are angry at him for being asked, yet again, to sacrifice their rights for the "greater good." They fear that Obama will always find something to prioritize over gay rights.

Both sides are right about this. That's what makes it agonizing. Obama is probably correct about the effect on his economic agenda of attacking the "don't ask don't tell" policy now, and the liberal wing is correct that continuing to enforce that policy (just expelled another gay man this week) and DOMA is horrific.

If Obama follows through on gay rights after the 2010 midterm elections, that will be enough for me. I think even most gay folks are willing to wait another couple years in exchange for getting what they deserve. It's an unfair trade, but not a wholly unreasonable one. But the calculus for me changes if the Obama administration continues to sell gays short to pursue other agenda items. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, justice too long delayed is justice denied.


Anonymous said...

Might has well have voted for McCain.

I still do not regard Obama as a leader. He is an excellent political hack, but there has been no changes.

DADT could be ended in thirty minutes of Obama writing a directive to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff himself, signing it and faxing it to the Pentagon. He would still have had time to eat a burger with "Jesus H Christ, he picked, Joe?" Biden.

The wars.

The war on drugs.

The war on single payer insurance.

The corruption in the Pentagon.

The corruption in the financial markets.



Investigation of war crimes.

As far as I am concerned he is AWOL. After a month automatically classified as a deserter.

Third party.

Raised By Republicans said...

Anonymous. He's shut down GITMO, and he's released the torture memos (at no small political cost potentially) that exposed the hypocrisy of the Bush administration and - more importantly - revealed their lies about the time line. That is, the Bushies claimed that these memos were not ex post justification for actions taken in anger. The release of these memos proves this was a lie.

The health care issue is high on Congresses agenda. If you insist on single payer or nothing then you are - sorry to say - on the fringes politically.

As for your call for a "Third Party." How will adding yet another party in Congress that can potentially veto change actually encourage the kind of change you want? Adding more parties is not the answer to your dreams. Convincing more people of the rectitude of your positions would do more for you.

The "might has [sic] well have voted for McCain" comment reflects a failure to learn from past mistakes. I would have thought that disastrous consequences of the "Gore = Bush" type mantras from the far left would have taught you that there are important differences between a candidate who compromises and forces you to accept compromises and one who disagrees with you 100% on most issues.

Raised By Republicans said...

LTG, I think you are probably right about the possible explanations. I suspect a combination of them is at work here - especially given that he's getting advice from a group of people some of whom want him to move faster, some who want him to not move at all and some who want him to move cautiously.

Another factor to consider. It looks like the pro-marriage equality thing has some momentum for the moment. Every victory on that dimension gives Obama a little more incentive to move on "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and gives him more cover to do it too.

Dr. Strangelove said...

There was a time when I would have agreed wholeheartedly with the previous Anonymous poster. But that was before 8 long years of George W. Bush made me grateful for anything I could get. I don't care anymore if the sandwich Obama serves is bone dry, skimpy with the meat, and thin on the fixin's... We're starving over here in liberal-ville!

I trust that President Obama will get around to advancing gay rights sometime next year--but if we have to wait until 2012, so be it. I do not believe he is "playing" us, like Bush played to the evangelicals--Obama made some specific promises (repealing DOMA, repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", and passing ENDA) and I trust he will keep them. I must agree that the economic issues--the bread and butter issues--are more important to the nation and Obama is right to focus on them.

If Obama fails to keep his promises, I will have trouble re-electing him. But he has plenty of time and everything I have seen indicates he will be true to his word. Frankly, I suspect what will happen is that Congress will take the lead this year in repealing DOMA and passing ENDA. But like I said, I can wait. What's another two or three years?

The Law Talking Guy said...

I hope the Democratic party can give Obama the space he claims he needs here. In many ways I sympathize with the Anonymous poster. I disagree that voting for McCain would be no different, of course, but I can't disagree with the angry voice that says why the heck are we going so slow? Damn the Senate, full speed ahead!

As I said, it's a shitty bargain Obama is offering. We voted for CHANGE and we have to wait even longer. But if he keeps his end of the bargain, it will have been worth it.

Raised By Republicans said...

We've gotten an enormous amount of significant change from our new executive branch. First, he shut down GITMO. Second, he's improved our diplomatic standing around world from "ignored and resented" to "cautiously respected." And in doing that he's out maneuvered three governments who have been thorns in our sides since long before Bush made a mess of things: Cuba, Venezuela and Iran.

Not to mention that he inherited a huge mess in the form of this financial crisis and had to deal with a lot of sunk costs in the form of the Bush-Paulsen no strings attached bankers bail out. Despite that he managed to - with Congressional cooperation - to dramatically change the direction and emphasis of governmental responses to the recession by shifting away from handing over huge sums of cash to bankers to funding, research, public work projects and education.

And all of that in just under 4 months in office.

I guess I'm asking everyone here just what you expected in your first 100 days? A revolution? He's done A LOT of things that are major improvements. Sure each of us can find things that he hasn't moved on that are pet priorities of ours but looking at the big picture, the changes are coming fast by the normal standards of the US institutional structures.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Obama has had two huge, huge successes that we can all be proud of: the stimulus package and the $3.4 Trillion budget. I also think he has handled the automobile industry meltdown very well. But a couple of the things you mentioned, RbR, are not quite accurate.

The bailouts for the financial sector are pretty much preceding as they did under Bush, actually. Obama has been fairly straight up about that. Congress added a few cosmetic caps on executive salaries, true, but apparently those did not apply to executive bonuses.

Obama has not yet shut down Guantanamo Bay either... He signed an executive order to do so by Jan. 21, 2010, but they still don't know what to do with the prisoners. The camp is still functioning.

Dr. Strangelove said...

If the Daily Kos is reporting correctly, President Obama promised replied to a soldier who wrote to him asking him to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In a handwritten reply, Obama promised again he would fulfill his commitment to do so, although it would take "some time."