Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 2, 2010

IF THEY WERE LOOKING FOR COVER, THEY FOUND IT.... Proponents of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" have been looking to this week as the last, best chance to convince the Senate to do the right thing. The combination of the Pentagon's report on servicemembers' attitudes and a high-profile hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee would, if all went well, give Democrats the boost they need to finish their work.

So far, repeal advocates have reason to be pleased. The Pentagon's report was arguably even more encouraging than expected, and today's hearing, featuring testimony from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, and the co-chairmen of the Pentagon's Working Group who prepared the study, answered every possible objection. Every Republican rationale was raised, considered, and debunked.

If you missed the hearing, which will have a second day tomorrow, Igor Volsky did a great job compressing hours of exchanges into this six-minute clip.

But a point Greg Sargent raised seemed especially important: "Military leaders essentially pleaded with GOP Senators to support repealing DADT, arguing that the failure to do so would put the state of our military at serious risk. In his testimony this morning, Defense Secretary Robert Gates put this as clearly as you could ask for."

For Republicans open to even the slightest bit of reason, this should offer them all the cover they need. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Secretary of Defense -- both of whom were appointed by a conservative Republican president, incidentally -- said approving the pending repeal provision is what's best for the U.S. military. Period. Full stop.

We already know that, for the clear majority of Senate Republicans, this is irrelevant. Just a few years after it was deemed outrageous and unpatriotic for elected politicians to ignore the judgment of our military leaders during a time of war, the GOP Senate caucus will no doubt try to kill DADT repeal anyway, because, well, they and their base really don't like gay people. That these gay people are willing to volunteer to put their lives on the line for the rest of us is apparently irrelevant.

But repeal proponents don't need all the Senate Republicans; they need a handful of Senate Republicans. Going into today, there were in upwards of five GOP members who were at least open to doing the right thing.

If they were paying attention today, looking for reassurance, the course ahead should be obvious.

Steve Benen 3:25 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (11)

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It's worth hoping for, but they seem intent on denying Obama everything, at all costs.

Posted by: Rathskeller on December 2, 2010 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Did an Democratic senators participate in the hearings? I've been reading the news about this through out the day and every Republican has been breathlessly covered...not one single mention of a Democrat.

Posted by: SaintZak on December 2, 2010 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

You wonder how Lugar, Collins, Snowe and maybe Ensign decide this thing. Clearly, they know DADT repeal is justified on its merits. But that's not the key to this. McConnell has leverage here and I'd love to have it explained exactly what it is. Committee assignments? Re-election help? What?

Posted by: walt on December 2, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's not just McConnell they have to worry about. The bat-shit crazy tea parties, whose insanity was elevated by the feckless media and ultimately emboldened by the election, are going to go after anyone who actually do the right thing.

Hell, the tea party is going after Lugar for his support for START, which was completely nonpartisan before a black man was in the White House.

Posted by: Holmes on December 2, 2010 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

"before a black man was in the White House."

Perhaps you know your fellow countryman better than I do, but I think any Democrat,and especially Mrs Clinton would receive comparable treatment. Like royalty believing in a divine right of kings, today's republicans believe in the divine right of republicans to rule.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on December 2, 2010 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

", but I think any Democrat,and especially Mrs Clinton would receive comparable treatment."

Yes, they would have opposed any Democrat but their hatred towards President Obama has a special edge because of his race.

I have never seen the office of the President disrespected the way it has been for the past 20 months..From 'You lie' to opposition to START to Eric Cantor telling Netanyahu he will keep the President in check.

So, yes they would have harassed any Democrat but Obama has the additional misfortune of being black.

Posted by: TT on December 2, 2010 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

This week history will stand in judgement of those who champion full inclusion of American citizens, and/or those who would throw us back to the days of bigotry and violence toward otherness!

Republican senators, which side of history will you be on?-Kevo

Posted by: kevo on December 2, 2010 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

If Dems had any cajones, they would hold a press conference and say, "it appears the GOP supports the military only when they put them in harm's way, but not so much when they return injured or are in desparate need of trained and couragous patriots who just happen to be gay."

If you want MSM coverage, you got to throw down the gauntlet. Americans in general, and the MSM in particular, love a good fight.

Dem leadership should give them one.

Posted by: bdop4 on December 2, 2010 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Some one needs to give McCain and others a slap on the head and tell them to just vote and get it over with as it IS GOING TO HAPPEN.

Posted by: mishanti2 on December 2, 2010 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, you need to read Digby on this, she has this nailed. Gay-bashing has always been an important part of the GOP arsenal in their ongoing efforts to completely hoodwink their crazy voters. Now more than ever:

A Freebie For The Haters

by digby

Greg Sargent seems a bit surprised that no Republicans have grabbed the DOD lifeline they were offered today to end DADT "for the good of the military." I think that in normal times they would have done it, but moderates are running scared of the Tea Party and contrary to popular myth, most of the Tea people care more about persecuting gays than they do about populism. This is a freebie for a party that is going to have to toe the line for the corporations down the road and needs to build up some credit with the rubes. If you listen to Talk Radio it's not hard to figure out where the party is coming from on this. It's a non-stop gay bash.

It's possible that the Dems will still be able to find a couple who will do it, but I don't think it's going to be anyone that's coming up for reelection soon or anyone who has a strong Tea Party presence in their state. This is some red meat they can give to their haters and I don't think they want to miss that opportunity.


Take it to the bank. DODT will not be repealed for at least two years, if not much longer.

When you let crazy people put criminal opportunists in power, opportunists who care absolutely not one whit about anything but their own power and wealth, this is what you get.

Posted by: LL on December 2, 2010 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

This article misconstrues Gates assertion that the military will be damaged by not repealing DADT. First, DADT was already "repealed" by the 1993 law as Congress blocked Clinton's DADT policy. But Gates assertion is that the civilian courts, which do not have jurisdiction by Congress to hear cases on the military affairs...the military courts and Congress are the place for that, are at risk of overturning the DADT policy and the 1993 law.

It is not wise to open the floodgates for sex criminals such as those who commit sodomy, et. al., into the military. And what is a dementia here is how people are calling those who do not want sex criminals in the military as "bigots" yet there are a host of other disqualifying factors that the military turns people away from serving. I sure do not hear anybody crying "bigot" on policy holders "banning" those who are obese, or have a disability, or have not completed their GED, or committing check fraud and other security risks, heck, even heterosexuals in cohabitation under Common Law marriage. What about their rights? Oh, never mind. Serving in the military is NOT a constitutional right!

Posted by: ralhow on December 3, 2010 at 10:19 PM | PERMALINK
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