Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 13, 2011

DADT DEAD-ENDERS: TIME TO MOVE ON.... It's only been a few weeks since the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy was repealed, but I more or less assumed the right would move on to other issues by now. This was a resounding defeat for them -- the vast majority of Americans backed DADT repeal, and it was approved with bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.

But dead-enders haven't quite moved on. Likely presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty (R), for example, talked to the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer yesterday. The right-wing host asked specifically about whether the Minnesota governor is prepared to "work to reinstate the prohibition on open homosexual service in the military." Pawlenty replied:

"Bryan, I have been a public and repeat supporter of maintaining Don't Ask, Don't Tell. There's a lot of reasons for that, but if you look at how the combat commanders and the combat units feel about it, the results of those kinds of surveys were different than the ones that were mostly reported in the newspaper and that is something I think we need to pay attention to. But I have been a public supporter of maintaining Don't Ask, Don't Tell and I would support reinstating it as well."

A few things to keep in mind. First, Fischer is one of the single most hate-filled figures in conservative politics, and for Pawlenty to even appear on his radio program does not speak well of Pawlenty's judgment.

Second, Pawlenty's support for reinstating the DADT policy is a reminder of just how far 2012 presidential hopefuls are prepared to go to impress far-right primary voters who'll choose the Republican nominee. Don't be too surprised if the GOP contest includes a competition to see which candidate can prove he/she hates gays more than the rest of the field.

And third, the right really needs to give up on this. Just last week, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's military personnel panel, said he'd look for chances to bring back DADT, too.

Look, I know how much the right hates losing, and DADT had a long run. Last year, Republican almost beat back the effort to repeal the policy, but they came up short. The public wanted to see the change; military leaders wanted to see the change; and lawmakers in both parties approved the change. The moment President Obama held a celebration to sign the legislation, conservatives should have realized the game was up. There was a political fight, and they lost. Why keep pushing this?

That said, I don't imagine Democrats mind, necessarily -- if every Republican presidential candidate opposes a policy that 77% of the country supports, that's likely good news for Dems.

* Update: Greg Sargent reminds me that the "DADT dead-enders" phrase was originally his idea for how to frame this a while back. Greg's right; he came up with the line, not me.

Steve Benen 12:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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"Dead-Ender" sounds kind of violent

Posted by: Pat on January 13, 2011 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

There's white-bread Republicans, and there's red-meat Republicans, and Pawlenty has to find a way to appeal to both. The world is what it is, etc.

Posted by: MattF on January 13, 2011 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

a reminder of just how far 2012 presidential hopefuls are prepared to go to impress far-right primary voters who'll choose the Republican nominee

They'll also be asked how many guns they own, who in the Democrat [sic] party was at fault for the Tucson shooting, be asked to demonize any LBGT people they know and condemn any who are married or have kids, etc. Add any other questions the RNC chair candidates were asked.

It's just so... counter-productive, divisive, hateful, etc.

Daniel Hernandez was wonderful to include e pluribus unum in his statements at the memorial last evening. The right needs to be reminded of that constantly.

As for Pawlenty, he is nothing but a political hack, and even a majority of Minnesotans wouldn't vote for him for president.

Posted by: Hannah on January 13, 2011 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Like abortion in the 80s and early 90s its not about repeal, its about votes and money. The last thing Republican politicians want is for DADT to actually be reinstated (at least not anytime soon).

No, what they want is to pound on the issue for next for years. Like abortion, it will be featured in fundraising letters. Take prominent positions in the party platform. It will drive their people to donate money and turn them out at the polls.

And Democrats/progressives need to take this pounding seriously. In the 80s and 90s the idea that Roe Vs Wade would be repealed or that significant restrictions on abortion rights could actually pass was considered a remote if not outright ridiculous idea. As far as the left was concerned, the issue had been decided and it was time to move on.

Fast forward through 30 some years of constant Republican pounding on the 'decided' issue of abortion. States across the country have passed increasingly restrictive laws to limit access to abortion services (which are being upheld by an increasingly conservation federal bench). There are actual signs that for the first time in decades support for abortion rights has actually declined.

The Republicans will do the same thing with the now 'decided' issue of homosexuals serviing in the military. They will pound away. They will be patient. And if the left is not careful then 20-30 years from now there might actually be talk about a return of DADT in some form and/or other significant rollbacks in GLBTs rights.

A lot of you think that sounds nuts or paranoid. Just remember, if someone had told you 1990 that support for abortion rights in the US might start declining in the next 20 years or that access to abortion providers was becoming increasingly difficult in large sections of country, you probably would have called them nuts and/or paranoid.

Posted by: thorin-1 on January 13, 2011 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget that every Republican who wants the nomination has to win (or at least do very well in) the Iowa caususes. Don't forget that Iowa is the state that drove three state supreme court justices from office after a unanimous court decision instituting marriage equality in Iowa. And don't forget that Iowa GOP caucuses are heavily dominated by religious conservatives.

So you can expect to see a lot more of this kind of stuff from all the Republicans who will be spending a lot of their time in Iowa in 2011.

Posted by: K in VA on January 13, 2011 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

You can't underestimate the strength of antigay sentiment in the Republican base.
I'm convinced that a late ad ("the scary wheatfield")of the Odious Nathan Deal (former corrupt congressman, now Governor of Georgia)against GA Sec. of State Karen Handel, attacking her support of businesses being able to offer same sex partners benefits (that is to say, she opposed, on sound conservative grounds, a law that would forbid such benefits)(as an intrusion into the way companies run their own businesses) was the decisive factor in his 1500 odd win.
I mean, gay marriage has been a real boon to the Right, as something to rile up the base.
So Paulenty's calculation, is probably that it will help him early.
Being conservative means never saying you're sorry or wrong.

Posted by: MR Bill on January 13, 2011 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

I want all the DADT dead-enders to know:

Some of my best friends are queers,and I'm not talking about my homosexual friends and loved ones! I'm talking about my right-wing relations who can never find a way to be gay about the good things here in America! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 13, 2011 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Many in the conservative world have minds set in concrete. It's just the way they are. They can't admit error, or defeat, or change course. Their cranial wiring just won't permit it. It shouldn't be a surprise that there are DADT 'dead-enders'. The same can be said about abortion, marriage equality, and racial equality. The opponents will never go away completely.

Cynical politicians, and political operatives know how to mine this mind set, and as was noted above, fundraising is enhanced when appeals to victimhood or legislative/judicial defeats are constantly cited as the need for a renewed campaign/battle to reverse them.

Actually, the same may be said for the civil and gay rights movements. Numerous and repeated defeats didn't dissuade supporters from continuing the fight. And it has been a fight that obviously will never be over. Both sides know they are right, only for different reasons.

Posted by: rrk1 on January 13, 2011 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

This position reminds me of white southerners in the 50's and 60's waving their signs "NEVER" in regard to desegregation. It has become another eternal issue for the right-wing, reenforcing their preoccupation with always being victims. In fifty years (just like racism, states rights, abortion, socialism, etc.), they will still be whining about the issue---and it will also probably still be a political tool for some.

Posted by: -syzygy- on January 13, 2011 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

I would hardly expect them to give up on this issue. Repealing DADT may enjoy broad public support but for those sections of the public for which gays are anathema they will keep feeding them the idea that repeal is possible. Along with the idea that those dirty Democrats cheated and slipped the legislation through in a lame duck session. The message will be discreetly targeted to receptive groups.

Posted by: Peter G on January 13, 2011 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Did you notice that Pawlenty said he would support reinstating it, which is not the same as working to reinstate. Seems to me he fell short of the commitment they were seeking. Although, I'm not sure they recognized the nuance.

Posted by: shadow on January 13, 2011 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Here's something the DADT dead-enders should think about; even John McCain, who did everything he could to preserve DADT short of holding his breath until he passed out, is now accepting of it and saying he'll abide by the law. He's moved on. Maybe you should too.

Posted by: gf120581 on January 13, 2011 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

The far right wants DADT reinstated because they know it will become virtually impossible to stigmatize and ostracize gay and lesbian Americans when there are highly visible examples of known gay and lesbian soldiers fighting and making the ultimate sacrifice for their country. It also becomes more difficult for them to tell said soldiers that they can't get married.

The repeal of DADT is the first and arguably most important step in getting full civil rights for the LGBT community. It also significantly decreases the chances of the far right successfully imposing their beliefs on the rest of the country. They know it, which is why I believe their desire to reinstate the policy is genuine.

Posted by: Holmes on January 13, 2011 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Pawlenty hasn't got a chance in hell. Even if he did, someone ought to remind this hack that as President, he would have to represent all Americans (yes, even the gay ones), not just the regressive, narrow-minded, hate spewing far right.

Posted by: electrolite on January 13, 2011 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

As a member of the 'rich' wing of republican party, I help financially support the 'reich' wing of our party. Sometimes, it is disgusting what we have to do to keep them happy, but Pawlenty does strike the cord that is needed for that purpose.

Truthfully, our social conservative tools and our Tea Party tools will not be satisfied with just the reinstatement of DADT, they want to see it become legally and socially acceptable to have fag hunts. For them, "the only good fag is a dead fag".

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on January 13, 2011 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Can you just imagine in the 2012 Presidential debates when Bryan Williams or David Gregory asks about gays in the shower?

Posted by: SaintZak on January 13, 2011 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

They haven't given up on getting rid of social security, medicaid, medicare, legal abortions, the removal of prayer from schools, school integration.... When you are absolutely sure you are absolutely right then legislation, litigation, public opinion are all meaningless.

Posted by: vickijean on January 13, 2011 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

How disappointing to see Jon Stewart give Pawlenty a pass when he was on his show promoting his campaign biography. Sad.

Posted by: Tired Liberal on January 13, 2011 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK



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