The White House IS Showing Leadership on DADT Repeal

Jim Burroway

December 6th, 2010

It’s just not the leadership we expected to see two years ago. Consider the evidence as The Advocate’s Kerry Eleveld reviews Reid’s announcement of the Senate’s floor schedule:

Oh yeah, that.

The near-final nail in the coffin was delivered by Senate majority leader Harry Reid over the weekend when he announced the floor schedule for the week of December 6: nothing Monday, on Tuesday/Wednesday an impeachment trial of a federal judge from Louisiana, with the first votes of the week likely to come on Thursday.

Once the impeachment is a wrap, Reid noted that left “a pretty clear path” to what else needed to be addressed – tax cuts, a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded, and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty plus votes on some other extraneous bills, one of which included the DREAM Act. …

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin — perhaps slightly dismayed at no mention of the National Defense Authorization Act — prodded Reid to “say something about the Defense bill.”

Oh yeah … that. “We’re also trying to figure out a time to move forward on the defense authorization bill,” Reid added, along with offering some minutiae about process and time being too scarce to debate the bill without putting limitations on the number of amendments and length of debate.

In other words, it’s not on Reid’s radar. Especially now that  he can’t milk it for the midterm elections.

Kerry also notes that DADT repeal hasn’t made the White House’s list of “must-haves” for the lame duck session. In fact, the White House’s list just happens to match Reid’s list to a tee. It’s also not among the White House’s talking points, nor does Press Secretary Robert Gibbs mention it unless asked directly — usually by Eleveld.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates can read the tea leaves as well as anyone. While he has supported DADT’s repeal from the very beginning, he told sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea today, “I’d have to say I’m not particularly optimistic that they’re going to get this done.”

There’s a lot of talk that the demise of DADT repeal reflects Obama’s lack of leadership on this issue, but I disagree. I think it’s time we recognized that the White House HAS been showing leadership on DADT. It’s just not the kind of leadership we expected when he said its repeal would a a priority for him. Examples of Obama’s leadership include:

  • Setting the contentious midterm year of 2010 as the year for repeal.
  • Agreeing to a timetable that called for the Pentagon to study repeal but not complete its work or release its report until December — with just one month left before the 111th Congress expires.
  • Actively discouraging any attempt to repeal DADT before the Pentagon releases its report.
  • Refusing to lobby Capital Hill for DADT’s repeal.
  • Opposing DADT’s demise through the courts by appealing the decision striking down DADT as unconstitutional.

Just as Harry Reid got exactly what he wanted when he deliberately set DADT repeal up for failure last September, we would have to be the world’s greatest fools not to conclude that Obama has gotten exactly what he wanted in this entire debacle as well. The entire strategy was laid out too deliberately to conclude otherwise. How this consciously engineered fiasco is supposed to serve him, I haven’t the foggiest clue. But then, I’m not the one make the political calculations here. All I can do is look at the evidence that is right in front of my nose. And it reeks.

And by the way, the HRC’s political calculator is worse than the President’s. Remember when Joe Solmonese was so confident in Obama’s plan? Good times.

John in the Bay Area

December 6th, 2010


I would agree with you on everything except one thing. Secretary Gates has done everything in his power to torpedo repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell until about a week ago. He is no friend to gay and lesbian servicemembers.

Timothy Kincaid

December 6th, 2010

…Reid added, along with offering some minutiae about process and time being too scarce to debate the bill without putting limitations on the number of amendments and length of debate.

In other words, guaranteeing that neither Sen. Collins nor Sen. Brown will vote to break filibuster.


December 6th, 2010

What evidence do you have that Reid deliberately set up repeal for failure in September? All you have is idle speculation. Speculation based on the premise that there were three Republicans willing to vote to break the filibuster. No evidence suggests that there three votes then, or four votes now. This site is positively obsessed with blaming Reid and Obama for the fact that no Republican senator will vote for repeal. I’ll admit I even bought into it at first, but enough is enough. If the GOP is willing to take into account the results of the “study” and vote accordingly, what does it matter if the vote takes place during the lame duck session or not? We all know why it matters. Because a Tea Party House and 47 GOP senators won’t ever vote for repeal. Not now, not ever. Obama’s error was in his complete capitulation and absurdly naïve approach to bipartisanship. The GOP beat him, like they have pretty much everytime for the past two years on nearly every issue.


December 6th, 2010

Timothy, without limits on amendments or debate, how could the vote take place before January anyway? Clearly, Reid didn’t schedule a vote because he knows repeal will fail.

John in the Bay Area

December 6th, 2010

Any idiot would give them their unlimited debate on the Defense Bill. However, the tax bill would be taken up as soon as debate and a vote on the Defense Bill is over. That is how you play hardball.

John in the Bay Area

December 6th, 2010

Another thing. The original Bush tax cuts were passed via Reconciliation. I still do not understand why Reconciliation wasn’t used to pass the extension of the tax cuts for those under $250,000. Perhaps, because the Democrats just wanted to appear reluctant to giving away billions to the richest Americans. This way, they can only end up doing it after the Republicans bullied them.


December 6th, 2010

You can’t use reconciliation twice in one congress, John, nor can you use it for legislation that increases the deficit, which the tax cut extensions do.

John in the Bay Area

December 6th, 2010

It has been used twice in one Congress(multiple times):
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1982, Pub.L. 97-253 (1982)
Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA), Pub.L. 97-248 (1982)
Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Pub.L. 105-33 (1997)
Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, Pub.L. 105-34 (1997)
Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, Pub.L. 109-171 (2006)
Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (TIPRA), Pub.L. 109-222 (2006)

It has also been used to increase the deficit (the original Bush Tax Cuts in 2001). However, if the provision will increase the deficit, it must sunset in 10 years (the Byrd rule). That is why the George Bush tax cuts expire in 2011.

Rob San Diego

December 7th, 2010

I mean really, who didn’t see this coming. Well, I guess it is all up to the courts now. Our entire elected system of congressional and executive leaders are a bunch of spineless PATAK! (Klingon word)

Mark F.

December 7th, 2010


I think this is a gay rights bulletin board, not a tax policy board.

Paul J. Stein

December 7th, 2010

Let the courts decide DADT and PROP8. Then no one is responsible to anyone on this matter. They can run for office again with a clear conscience, or as clear as any politician/lawyers can be.

John in the Bay Area

December 7th, 2010


My point is that the Obama Administration and the Senate with the largest Democratic majority in recent memory don’t fight for anything. They don’t use the tools at their disposal. There is a pattern here that extends well beyond Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Ultimately, the Senate democrats’ strongest commitment seems be (1) Doing as little as possible (2) Projecting weakness at every opportunity (3) Finding ways to enact Republican priorities.


December 7th, 2010

DADT may be code blue as far as Congress is concerned, but NPR had a good piece on Fresh Air today that offers some reason for optimism:


December 7th, 2010

You’re right, John. This Administration has done nothing but cave to the right over and over again for the last two years. DADT is just one example. Even now, they’re letting Brown and Collins get away with pretending to be for repeal, even as they must know (as Brown and Collins must too) that allowing extended debate and limitless amendments to the Defense Authorization bill will extend the vote into January and thus effectively kill all chance of repeal. Collins and Brown get to impress their moderate voters by giving lip-service to supporting repeal while simultaneously ensuring it’s failure through delay. And the Dems will take the blame once again.

Timothy Kincaid

December 7th, 2010


Are you aware of how tiresome your “All Republicans are All evil, All the time” mantra has become?


December 7th, 2010

I don’t think I’ve written anything untrue. There simply aren’t enough hours left in December to allow for limitless amendments and debates •and• also a vote on repeal. That’s why Reid can’t schedule it, which is what he said in the snippet you copy pasted and bolded earlier. I just don’t see how that translates to read taking the blame. To me, that’s far more tiresome.

Taruna Oils

December 8th, 2010

Fuzzy if you’re going to bring my name up all the time, and I can’t imagine why you feel the need to do this, please don’t misrepresent my position. Read my blog and get back to me. And I care what Keith Olbermann says about as much as I care what Cher says.

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