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The threat to DADT repeal may come from Obama rather than McCain

Timothy Kincaid

June 20th, 2010

Two news reports offer an odd turn of events.

From the anti-gay uber-conservative Washington Times

No filibuster on gays

There will be no filibuster of the pending defense budget bill that contains a repeal of the military’s gay ban — at least not from Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is leading the fight to preserve the ban.

Contrary to a smattering of press reports, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee is not trying to find the votes to block the bill, which may reach the floor next week. A filibuster takes 60 votes to override.

“Sen. McCain is not filibustering the bill,” his spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan told special correspondent Rowan Scarborough.

However that does not mean that the repeal will go through. From the AP

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says President Barack Obama could end up vetoing legislation that would lift the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

But Gates tells “Fox News Sunday” that Obama probably still would veto an upcoming spending bill that includes the repeal — if the bill also contains money for defense projects he says are wasteful.

If the bill is vetoed, the legislature will either override the veto or begin the process of revising the bill. It seems unlikely that there are adequate votes or political will to override the President. So political horse trading will resume.

Some legislators want to keep the spending in the bill so as to protect interests in their community. And DADT may become a bargaining chip because, let’s face it, very few legislators give our interests much priority.



June 20th, 2010 | LINK

Obama won’t veto. This would be political suicide for him with LGBT’s. I know he hasn’t been the fierce advocate, but this is too huge.

John in the Bay Area
June 20th, 2010 | LINK

If Obama vetoes the potential repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (regardless of whether the reason is two engines for the Joint Strike Fighter), he will have essentially written off the gay vote.

There is nothing in his history to indicate a willingness to actually stand strongly for or against anything in particular. This would be a very strange time for him to decide to do it, and could not be interpretted any other way than as writing off the gay vote.

June 20th, 2010 | LINK

If he does veto he is finished.

He has done so much to alienate his base that this will be the final straw. He will be over.

Mark F.
June 20th, 2010 | LINK

This wasteful, unnecessary, obscenely excpensive bill should be vetoed. Not because of DADT, however.

Rob San Diego
June 20th, 2010 | LINK

I’m glad you have more faith in Obama than I do Jake. I foresee him vetoing it. However, I would like to know which Republicans slipped in all these crazy spending items that our own secretary of defense says we don’t need. This would be part of that hidden heterosexual agenda, poison the bill with wasteful spending to keep the ban on gays.

June 20th, 2010 | LINK

He should veto the bill, until some of the wasteful spendind is cut. No way DADT will be a part of any “bargaining chip”. The Dems in Congress forced repeal this year, against Obama’s wishes. It would be political suicide to toss it aside.

June 20th, 2010 | LINK

He’s about to lose the gays.

Ben Mathis
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

He should veto if there is f-35 funding in the bill and other worthless expenditures meant only for more efficient terrorizing of other countries. I’ll gladly (as an American) sacrifice topical level gay rights in order to prevent the torture and destruction of whole villages by US murder toys.

If Obama or the rest of the US government wanted to stand up for gay rights, they could do it in a myriad of ways that doesn’t require being tacked on to military funding for the largest exporter of terror in the world, the US military.

Neil D
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Another Democratic Party bashing from Mr. Kincaid? I’m with Ben Mathis on this one – why should I cheer on those who wish to serve an evil foreign policy?

June 21st, 2010 | LINK

I’m with Ben. Still considering moving to another country at this point though. Why should I spend the rest of my life in a country that has nothing for me but immature disdain?

Ben in Oakland
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

This just illustrates the real problem– our political gridlock. DADT repeal should never have been attached to a defense spending bill, but introduced on its own, to stand on its own merits.

Now, everyone has a reason to say no. not germane to the spending bill. Too many porkers at the public trough. And everyone that is lukewarm about repealinbg it– or more accurately, worried about the ocnsequences for cthem should they vote repeal– is off the hook.

I’m so glad that 60 member majority was the savior ofo ur ocuntry. I feel just–so–


June 21st, 2010 | LINK

I like to imagine the following: Obama does not veto and grudgingly funds the military spending he doesn’t like. Then in some future war 20 years hence, a squadron of planes with the new engine saves the day in a pivotal battle. The war will be won by an engine that was only approved because Obama wanted to live up to his campaign promise to the gays.

In other words, gays won the war :)

June 21st, 2010 | LINK

I’m amazed that anyone still thinks that Obama cares one whit about gay voters.

But about this budget bill, doesn’t this contain the DADT repeal that is more of a nebulous “at some point some time when some study is done and some people have taken some time to review and then if *they* decide…”? In other words, is it really a loss if Obama vetoes it?

IMO the amount of real time it takes to repeal DADT will not be much different if this bill is passed vs. if a separate *real* DADT repeal is made later.

June 21st, 2010 | LINK

As much as I dislike the fact that this vague anti-DADT attachment might be repealed. I find the spending in the bill ridiculous. I don’t want my dignity granted at that cost. I’d rather wait then only further damage this country’s economy and foreign policy.

Yes, I want GLBT equality, but sometimes other things are a priority, even for me, a gay man.

June 21st, 2010 | LINK

I agree that I’d have no objection to the bill being vetoed due to the inclusion of wasteful spending, especially since the bill only codifies into law the procedure already adopted to end DADT.

Jim Burroway
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

With all due respect, this post omits a critical paragraph, and is thus devoid of the context for the veto threat:

Gates wants to get rid of an aircraft engine and additional transport aircraft that some lawmakers want to keep. They generally represent areas with defense contractors that would stand to lose business from the cuts.

Obama’s veto threat has NOTHING to do with DADT, and everything to do with a billion dollars of earmarks for a jet engine that the DoD neither needs nor wants. it is a perfectly legitimate and laudible position against powerful defense industry lobbyisys. To turn this onto a complaint into Obama’s supposedly trying to somehow kill his campaign promise is sI’mply not grounded. there are many good reasons for Obama’s footdragging on so many issues of importance to us, but this is too much of a stretch.

And as an Arizona voter, I can well vouch for McCain’s growing animus toward the gay community. Funny how that happens mow that he’s facing a credible primary threat from a tea party challenger.

Timothy Kincaid
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Actually, the information from the “critical paragraph” was paraphrased as:

Some legislators want to keep the spending in the bill so as to protect interests in their community.

which only differs slightly from

Gates wants to get rid of an aircraft engine and additional transport aircraft that some lawmakers want to keep. They generally represent areas with defense contractors that would stand to lose business from the cuts.

in that I did not include detail about the exact nature of the projects (ie aircraft engines) as it matters little if they were engines or tanks or any other project.

And if there is any “complaint” it is not to be found in the words I wrote. Nor was this a defense of McCain.

You’ll note that I see this as “an odd turn of events” and as a threat. I did not say that the veto was not legitimate or a denial of promises but rather that it will reopen DADT.

June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Let Obama take a stand and just pass an executive order, repealing DADT.

June 21st, 2010 | LINK

And if Obama vetos it, it’s not because of DADT, it’s because of the meat of the bill and the overspending it contains. If you then write Obama off… who are you going to vote for instead… a republican?????? Seriously????

June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Someone explain this to me if I’m wrong but this is the sequence of events that need to happen to kill DADT repeal:

1)Obama vetoes the bill and they can’t override.

2)They go back to start negotiations to cut spending.

3)The GOP/conservative democrats say that the only way that they will agree to the funding cuts is if Dems give them DADT.

4) Dems agree

All this presumes that:
1)they wont cut spending before a veto

2)Obama isn’t bluffing (the GOP would attack for vetoing military spending and the LGBT community would attack over DADT neither of which Obama really wants)

3)DADT would be important enough to John McCain and other republicans to cut the spending but not important enough to democrats/Obama to stop a horse trade

4)There’s nothing more important to republicans or less important to democrats that could serve as a decent bargaining chip.

My guess is that the dems wouldn’t cut DADT repeal so much as weaken it even further. Give the DOD a longer amount of time to do it’s study and give them more ways to block open service.

Timothy Kincaid
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

It is a mistake to view the F-35 engine as a Democrat v. Republican issue.

The house voted on an amendment to remove the funding but it failed 231-193. Reviewing the roll call, it become clear that this was not a partisan vote. While on a percentage basis the Republicans were more favorable, the result was that 115 Democrats and 116 Republicans voted to keep the second engine.

The Senate bill does not include the funding so unless the Senate amends to include the funding this issue will be an item of negotiation between the House and the Senate. That is probably where it will die.

But if it does not, DADT repeal could most definitely be a negotiating chip for either getting more support for an override or for appeasing some conservative House members who support the engine funding. If so, John is probably correct about either longer “review” time or perhaps sign off by all military chiefs.

June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Look, it’s high time LGBT people withing the military banded together and came out en-masse, say 5,000 or 10,000 of them (via a website, youtube postings, editorial columns, blogs reaffirming their commitment as gay people to the army, navy to their commanders, to the Pentagon and so on, etc). The point is, a tidal wave of LGBT declarations will overwhelm the system. It will not be possible to pursue even a tiny fraction of the outings. And if some are dismissed, while others are not, then let’s see protests outside recruitment centers and military bases.

There is no dignity on having your rights voted on. Truth, reality are not decided democratically.

65,000 of you together, do not need to depend on the whims of politicians. you could end all this tomorrow with a tiny amount of self-belief and co-ordination.

Jim Burroway
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

Timothy is absolutely correct: the F-35 engine — and indeed almost all defense earmarks for that matter — almost never are a Democrat vs. Republican argument. As the Washington Post reported last month:

Gates has repeatedly threatened to advise President Obama to veto the entire defense bill if Congress pursues the second engine. The House approved the project anyway, overcoming an attempt by opponents to strip it from the bill. That attempt failed by a vote of 231 to 193, with both parties divided on the issue. [Emphasis added]


The Pentagon has disputed those figures, calculating that it would cost taxpayers $2.9 billion more, on top of $1.3 billion already spent, in upfront costs to develop the second engine. Gates has also said that any potential savings from having a competition between contractors would be “theoretical.”

Major defense contractors have carefully established defense plants and subcontractors around the country where they can parcel up the work to ensure jobs are created specifically in congressional districts and states represented by key senators on both sides of the aisle to guarantee the flow of money to their contracts. And they target Dems and Reps alike for a very smart reason: no matter who is in control of either the house or the Senate, major defense contractors want the key leaders to have a stake on whether a contract goes through or not regardless of party affiliation.

It’s my personal opinion — and not the point of this thread — that Obama’s veto threat is completely justified. The blame however rightly rests with the irresponsible Democrats and Republicans both who are fighting to add this costly expenditure to our growing deficit.

DADT’s repeal would be a very unfortunate casualty. And there is plenty of blame for Democrats and Republicans for setting up the conditions for that to happen. Sen. McCain, to his great credit, opposes the jet engine program because it is wasteful and costly. However, his intent to prevent DADT’s repeal is well know. His office now says however that he won’t filibuster the bill in the Senate because of DADT. I suspect his reasons for doing so is because he already knows he doesn’t have the votes to sustain a filibuster from among his own caucus (killing the bill would endanger their own earmarks for contracts in their states), so now he can backtrack on his threat and appear “statesmanlike.” I don’t buy it one bit.

Timothy Kincaid
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

McCain’s claim to statesmanship was forfeited in his 2008 campaign when he sold his reputation, credibility, and integrity in the hopes of convincing the country that they guy they’d known for decades was someone else entirely.

He should discover that his health requires him to spend more time with his family and graciously pull out of the race. In retirement he can reflect on who he really is and perhaps find a way to salvage his image.

But I digress.

John in the Bay Area
June 21st, 2010 | LINK

If Obama vetoes this bill, he will be saying that this stupid airplane engine is more important that repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. There really is no other way to interpret that. While it may be exactly what he thinks, it will hurt him and many Democrats heading into the fall elections for this Democratic president to deep six Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal.

Neil D
June 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Mr. Kincaid is again forced to defend his posts against charges of anti-Democratic Party bias:

“And if there is any “complaint” it is not to be found in the words I wrote. Nor was this a defense of McCain.”

I think it was the headline that led me to the conclusion that this was another attack on Obama and the Democrats. Maybe the headline should have been:

“DADT repeal caught up in fight over wasteful defense spending.”

But that might not get as many page views as the more provocative headline.

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