Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 29, 2010

THE TROOPS DON'T MIND, EITHER.... During his discussion with bloggers at the White House this week, President Obama was asked about the future of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. AmericaBlog's Joe Sudbay asked, "Is there a strategy for the lame-duck session to..." and the president interrupted to say, "Yes."

Pressed for some details, Obama added, "I'm not going to tip my hand now. But there is a strategy ... and my hope is that will culminate in getting this thing overturned before the end of the year." The president went on to say with just a couple of GOP votes to overcome the Republican filibuster, "this is done."

And by "this," I think the president meant ending DADT entirely.

I have no idea what strategy the White House has in mind, but I wouldn't be surprised if this had something to do with it.

A majority of active-duty and reserve service members surveyed by the Defense Department would not object to serving and living alongside openly gay troops, according to multiple people familiar with the findings.

The survey's results are expected to be included in a Pentagon report, due to President Obama on Dec. 1, regarding how the military would end enforcement of the "don't ask, don't tell" law that bans openly gay men and lesbians from serving in uniform.

Not surprisingly, the results were not unanimous, and some servicemen and women -- many of whom almost certainly already serve alongside gay colleagues-- would rather quit than be part of an armed services with openly-gay volunteers. According to the reports, though, these anti-gay troops were in the minority.

The significance of the report, still a month away from release, relates strongly to the debate in the Senate. Several weeks ago, Republicans, led by the strongly anti-gay John McCain, blocked funding for the troops because of a provision that could lead to DADT's repeal. To hear Republicans tell it, Congress couldn't possibly move on this before first reading the results of the Pentagon's poll of 400,000 active-duty and reserve troops, as well as 150,000 family members.

The idea, I suspect, is to bring the defense authorization bill back to the floor in the lame-duck session, after Dec. 1, so McCain and his cohorts will have their main talking point taken away. At that point, a majority of the troops, a majority of American civilians, a majority of the House, a majority of the Senate, the Commander in Chief, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and two of his recent predecessors will all be saying the exact same thing: it's time to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

And at that point, McCain and other anti-gay senators will come up with some new rationale, and depending on how things turn out in the Senate races in Illinois and Delaware, Dems will have to struggle even more to find GOP votes to overcome the filibuster.

Steve Benen 1:20 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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The president went on to say with just a couple of GOP votes to overcome the Republican filibuster, "this is done."

And once I finish grafting Cliff Lee's arm onto my shoulder, my multiyear contract with the Yankees will be "done."

Is he really that naive, or does he think we are?

Posted by: dr. bloor on October 29, 2010 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK
And at that point, McCain and other anti-gay senators will come up with some new rationale

I'm sorry, did I miss the change in the rules of the Senate that required filibustering Senators to justify their filibuster to anyone?

Posted by: cmdicely on October 29, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's a pretty bright fellow, which is why I can't understand why he can't see that the GOP- all of it- has no intention of co-operating with him on any issue. Even the so-called moderate Republicans are very unlikely to vote to break a filibuster of a DADT repeal, simply because, as Mitch McConnell admitted, their main goal is to see President Obama fail. I'll describe it as a syllogism:

The GOP wants Obama to fail;
A successful GOP filibuster of any legislation makes it more likely that Obama fails;
Therefore, it's very unlikely that any GOP Senator will help to break a GOP filibuster.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on October 29, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Can't remember the details, but McCain indicated a few months back that he'll question the survey if he doesn't like the results.

Posted by: K in VA on October 29, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

The majority does not get to tyrannize the minority in the America I love, my friends. If even one red-blooded soldier is uncomfortable with the idea of fighting alongside a pansy, we can't justify forcing him to do so. That's not the America I love and that's not change I can believe in.

Posted by: John McCain (R-AZ) on October 29, 2010 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, did I miss the change in the rules of the Senate that required filibustering Senators to justify their filibuster to anyone?

You possibly missed the fact that John McCain is a media whore who loves to condescendingly blather on about why he takes the ridiculous legislative actions he does -- and that in this habit he is joined by many colleagues.

You may also have missed the fact that McCain has been quite vocal and quite specific about the circumstances under which he will allegedly support the repeal of DADT. As each of these criteria is met, he moves the goalposts.

Posted by: Frank on October 29, 2010 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, what don't the phobes get about this? Gays are in the military, gays die on the battlefield of our illegal and overtly aggressive wars, end of teh GAY!!!

Teatards are sooooo stupid.

Posted by: Trollop on October 29, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

I bet Pat Tillman was gay and had a wife as cover. Why else would he have kept a diary and consorted with liberals like Noam Chomsky?

Posted by: st john on October 29, 2010 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

"And at that point, McCain and other anti-gay senators will come up with some new rationale, and depending on how things turn out in the Senate races in Illinois and Delaware, Dems will have to struggle even more to find GOP votes to overcome the filibuster."

Oh, they already have. Now it is the opinion of a majority of "COMBAT" servicemen that count. So they'll say that the survey doesn't matter because only those carrying guns on the front line matter.

Of course, because of Rummy's turning the whole Army into gun toters and contracting out every support job, every soldier is a "Combat" serviceman.

Posted by: Lance on October 29, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Not surprisingly, the results were not unanimous, and some servicemen and women -- many of whom almost certainly already serve alongside gay colleagues-- would rather quit than be part of an armed services with openly-gay volunteers. According to the reports, though, these anti-gay troops were in the minority.

I'll bet 99% of those morons are from the South. An added benefit of abolishing DADT will be the de-Southernization of the military. Of course, that'll make it difficult to get the cannon-fodder we may need in the future. But then a more intelligent military (since they won't be putting up with the minus-IQs from the South) may not need cannon-fodder.

Posted by: TCinLA on October 29, 2010 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK
You may also have missed the fact that McCain has been quite vocal and quite specific about the circumstances under which he will allegedly support the repeal of DADT.

Every time I've heard him, he has very clearly laid out conditions without which he will not support DADT repeal. He's also been very, very clear in not saying anything that would remotely imply that, were those conditions fulfilled, he would then support DADT repeal.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 29, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK
Of course, because of Rummy's turning the whole Army into gun toters and contracting out every support job, every soldier is a "Combat" serviceman.

That's not fair at all. While large numbers of support jobs were contracted out, many remain (often, the exact same jobs that were contracted out, leading to military and contract personnel having similar assignments), and many gun toting jobs were contracted out (e.g., Blackwater and the other contractors paid to provide security at U.S. bases, logistics trains, etc., in combat zones.)

I think it would be more accurate to say that the effort was to contract out as much of the military as possible, without substantial focus on the "gun toting" vs. "non-gun-toting support" function divide.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 29, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

Every time I've heard him, he has very clearly laid out conditions without which he will not support DADT repeal. He's also been very, very clear in not saying anything that would remotely imply that, were those conditions fulfilled, he would then support DADT repeal.

That's why I said "allegedly support" -- yes, agreed; it's been an implication of support "...[if condition X is met], then we ought to think about seriously [sic] changing it."

Okay. So to get back to your original point of concern: No, he is not required by "Senate rules" to give a reason for filibustering. Whoever implied that he was? He and colleagues will, however, almost certainly provide a rationale in public statements and/or media appearances.

Posted by: Frank on October 29, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

OK, did I miss something? Can there possibly be any doubt about the outcome in *Delaware*? If there is, sane people can just pack it in right now.

Posted by: rabbit on October 29, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, they already have. Now it is the opinion of a majority of "COMBAT" servicemen that count.

I haven't heard this one, but it'd be interesting to drill down on that. Why is combat the new metric for DADT? If, as I suspect, the response would be a variation of the purposely vague old "When the bullets are flying, you've got to be 100 percent sure of the guy next to you," then what does that mean here? Are the naysayers concerned that gay people in combat are lesser marksmen? Less likely to look out for their fellow soldiers? Less committed to their mission or country? So busy thinking about hot cock that they can't concentrate in a firefight?

What's the rationale behind this? I want to make them say it.

Posted by: Frank on October 29, 2010 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

The lame duck session is the strategy. If Dems held congress Obama would have to run in '12 against his own party since morons like Ben Nelson are the real stumbling blocks on the path towards sanity. With Republicans in the majority Obama gets to run against them instead of his own so-called party members.

Posted by: Tuttle on October 29, 2010 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

"A majority of active-duty and reserve service members surveyed by the Defense Department would not object to serving and living alongside openly gay troops, according to multiple people familiar with the findings."

Neither here nor in the Washington Post story to which you link is there any indication of how large a majority feels this way. Seems like an important detail to me.

Posted by: Larry Roberts on October 30, 2010 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

McCain is a jackass. he is a spoiled military brat who should have been tossed out of Annapolis on his ass and he was never qualified to be a pilot (having lost at least 3 planes before the North Vetnamese shot him down). He's an uncivil idiot who routinely barges into Senate committee meetings about which he has no knowledge and tries to bully Senators and staffers around. He sat out the war I fought in with the Marines as a POW, and he has no core beliefs as demonstrated in the 2008 campaign and his primary run in AZ against an even crazier opponent. If thinking like McCain is some sort of litmus test for being patriotic then the country has lost its collective mind.

Posted by: Bob on October 30, 2010 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK
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