Monday, December 20, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed

So it seems that I owe the president a little apology.

Back in October, I was somewhat perturbed at the Obama administration for their decision to actively fight the court-mandated cease and desist order for enforcing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. As I reasoned, all Obama needed to do in order to let the policy lapse was just accept the court order and let it go.

Sure, Obama said they were only appealing in order to get DADT repealed through proper channels, i.e., a bill passed through Congress. But, I reasoned at the time, this would never happen, not in a million years. Republicans would threaten to filibuster the action, Democrats would cave like always, the new Republican House of Representatives would push out the Democrats (it was already obvious at that point that this was going to happen) and there would not be another opportunity to repeal for at least two years and probably longer.

But they did it. They actually voted to repeal. So, hooray for gay rights! And may I say, this is a case where I am most definitely happy to have been wrong.

Even so, I can't resist a single sourpuss shrill liberal comment -- my moment of "What if Peter hadn't caught the wolf? What then?" This was by no means a foregone conclusion. Senate Democrats were racing the clock, it mostly didn't look like they were going to make it. Only some uncharacteristic party manipulation by Harry Reid as well as some frankly shocking heroics from Senator Joe Lieberman of all people (sole member of the popular "Connecticut for Lieberman" party) made this possible at all. Had this gamble not paid off, it's still highly likely that DADT would have remained a permanent fixture.

I would really like to have seen Barack Obama take a more active role in working to bring this down. Going into next year, let's not forget that Democrats still control a majority of the Senate in addition to the presidency. More than ever, passing any kind of desirable agenda will require better politics than just hopeful speeches.


  1. yocco9:19 AM

    This is great. I don't really think Obama deserves more than incidental credit for it. If it happened under his watch, great, if not no skin off his back. That's the impression that I got. He has seemed pretty ambivalent about gay rights since the election and anything we say about his role in this demands more speculation than evidence on our part.

    Since there are a number of issues that been fought for in this lame duck period one comes to mind. The Card Check program for unions. This issue disappeared of the face of the earth about the time Rush wished Obama would fail. I'm curios as to why it lost steam. Do you have any insight.

    I will say in full disclosure that I'm not a fan of it. Most people who support unions have an idealized vision of Norma Rae fighting oppression and an organic process by which the smallholders of a company use their collective power to have a say. However, the reality is that most unions are large conglomerates that have no stake in the actual businesses they represent. They are businesses who sell subscriberships in to their service of arbitration. They don't have a stake in the success of the company or of the workers but in the business of maintaining subscribership. The card check program was not a program that helped the interests of workers so much as interests of arbitration businesses and I didn't see the program as anything but a perk for a special interest industry. Throwing the work union in front of it didn't fool me but it seemed to fool the democratic base.

    A further question if you have the time. Initially corporations and unions were created so that smallholders could pool their interests, therefore allowing people who were essentially powerless to enter the market place and have some power in it. In modern times these two institutions have grown to do the opposite. They consolidate power and prevent new parties from entering the marketplace. What do you think needs to be done to change this? and why did the dems give up on the card check?

  2. Anonymous9:47 PM

    It's about time we caught up with the rest of western society.