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Tilting at Windmills

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December 22, 2010

DAN CHOI GETS HIS RING BACK.... In July, there was a striking moment at the Netroots Nation conference. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) personally pledged to Lt. Dan Choi that he would work to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the policy that led to Choi's discharge.

At the time, Reid accepted Choi's West Point ring, but promised to give it back. "When the bill's signed, I'll keep it safely and then give it back to him," the senator said.

At an event in Reid's office this afternoon, Reid kept his promise and returned the ring to its rightful owner.

Steve Benen 4:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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I found this extraordinarily moving.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on December 22, 2010 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

I also hope that Choi returns to the army. We need excellent officers like him.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on December 22, 2010 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

There's something about Harry Reid I've always liked, and it's on display here. I'm not sure what you'd call it but I'll settle for ordinary humanity. He's not flashy, clever, or eloquent. He doesn't use oratory to inspire. But in that unadorned way of his, he reminds me why I'm a Democrat.

Posted by: walt on December 22, 2010 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Lovely video. Courage and perseverance on on display here.

Maybe bookmark this to remind that good guys and girls do win sometimes. But it is not easy.

Posted by: Elizabelle on December 22, 2010 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Now that's priceless!

Posted by: whichwitch on December 22, 2010 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

I watched the segment when Lt. Choi gave Reid his ring. He tried to make an outright give of it if memory serves. Reid said he couldn’t keep it permanently, but the he would hold it till the day that the policy was repealed at which point he’d give it back. The whole thing increases my respect for Reid both as a politician and a human being. Since that time, I had entirely forgotten the incident. I glad to see that Reid had not. In addition to it being a wonderful gesture, it is a wonderful political opportunity to tout a success.

Short version: It’s all good.

Posted by: David Hunt on December 22, 2010 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

I would love to imagine the phone call went something like this: "Hello, Dan? This is Harry Reid & I believe I have something that belongs to you. It would a pleasure & an honour to return it to you."

*sniff* I just teared myself up.

Posted by: raff on December 22, 2010 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Today is a great day! Thank God we had Dems running both houses of Congress and sitting in the White House, if only for a short time.

We'll continue to bicker, but today should remind us that in 2012, we need to fight like hell to keep the Senate, regain the House, keep Obama where he belongs, and kick the living shit out of the TeaGOP Party.

Posted by: Chris on December 22, 2010 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

You may kiss the ring!

(I couldn't resist..)

Posted by: Trollop on December 22, 2010 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.

Posted by: Shrillhouse on December 22, 2010 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK

I never doubted that Harry Reid would do his damnedest to make it happen. I read his autobiography some time ago ("The Good Fight") and learned how (quietly) determined he is to get the best deal for the American people. Also know some people who know him personally--Republicans from Nevada who have known him for years and speak of him highly. I really recommend his book. Knowing all about his past history, especially his childhood, makes it so more enjoyable to watch him in action.

Posted by: jw456 on December 22, 2010 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

Dan Choi has done nothing but hog the media spot light. Last week he was stating he didn't want to attend the signing, that his "warrior" training taught him not to seek the limelight. However, within the community he is not a leader. He has become a cartoon figure that gays in the military lament. He continues to assert he is the leader of the cause when he is anything but.

Posted by: Paul on December 22, 2010 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

Is Choi's behavior really so bad, Paul? In many ways, you could make a similar comparison to Abbie Hoffman and the SDS back in the late 1960s. Nobody in the SDS really took Hoffman seriously, and Hoffman surely stole the limelight. But nobody wanted to listen to boring speeches at an SDS rally. Hoffman's stunts were more fun and drew more attention to the issues than the SDS ever did. The media could ignore a huge SDS rally, but they couldn't ignore Hoffman's antics. Hoffman obviously wasn't as serious as the leadwers of the SDS, but it didn't matter. And today, nobody cares when Human Rights Campaign holds a rally and gives speeches that nobody listens to. But they like it when they can find one compelling person to speak for a movement. Dan Choi was it, and he brought the media's attention to an issue it would rather have ignored. Maybe Dan Choi is a media hog, but so were everyone we remember. Think guys like Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Jesse Jackson and Malcom X. All limelight seekers. And the other side has the same in George Wallace, Ronald Reagan and Billy Graham.

Posted by: fostert on December 22, 2010 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK


Choi's behavior really was that bad and he should be glad that Harry Reid is a classy guy...

See this October 28, 2010 post on Queerty:

In the same Village Voice interview where he knocked Gay Inc., Dan Choi also called Sen. Harry Reid — who remains in possession of his West Point ring — a "pussy" who will "be bleeding once a month" after the Senate majority leader's compromised DADT strategy failed to pass. Choi tweets an apology for using the slur, which comes after Choi saying he's comfortable with being called both a "feminist" and a "misogynist."


Posted by: MJ on December 22, 2010 at 11:06 PM | PERMALINK

MJ, compared to what Abbie Hoffman did, Dan Choi is a lightweight. Both in cleverness and in offending people. It is the nature of our society. If you want to be seen, create conflict. Abbie Hoffman was far more offensive and at the same time far more creative. It takes much less to create a spectacle now, and Dan Choi worked far within what Abbie Hoffman would consider acceptable. But you miss my point, it is the spectacle that creates the media discussion. We live in a day that you can put 200K people on The Mall and the media doesn't even see it. But if you create spectacle, then the media covers it. And it becomes an issue. This is exactly where Abbie Hoffman thought the media was going and exactly what he capitalized on.

Posted by: fostert on December 22, 2010 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

And think about it, the young generation has so much easier media at their disposal and they can't make anyone listen. Abbie Hoffman forced every media to listen. He literally stopped the New York Stock Exchange from trading for about five minutes. He did it by throwing bundles of one dollar bills on the trading floor. And those traders were trading millions of dollars every minute. Yet they'd stop trading and pick up one dollar bills. He exposed the lunacy of the traders. And now, the observation balcony is lined with bullet-proof glass because of his antics. He threw about 5K on the floor when billions were at stake, and that shut down our entire financial system for five minutes.

Posted by: fostert on December 22, 2010 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Dan is a bit of a drama queen. But a sincere and honest one, with his heart in the right place. And like foster said, he has kept the DADT issue in the public eye by the various things he has done, including the ring deal. Plus, not that he planned it that way, but just being Asian American and visible and gay is a good thing in a lot of ways.

Posted by: emjayay on December 23, 2010 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

Lt. Choi's courage and grace are an inspiration. When the history books are written, he'll be on the right side. This is America - sometimes the right thing is just too damn difficult, but we get there eventually. Which isn't to say that the promise of the Declaration of Independence has been fulfilled, but it is being fulfilled, fitfully and haltingly, it's being fulfilled. USA!USA! USA!

Posted by: Geoff G on December 23, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK



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