This week, both the editorial columns in both the New Republic and the New Yorker are demanding that Barack Obama demonstrate his commitment to gay rights by revoking “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” so that gay men and women can serve openly in the US military.

The editors at both publications seem to have forgotten the conventional wisdom of just a few months ago: Don’t make the same mistake that Clinton did in his first hundred days; Don’t define yourself by taking sides with liberal activists against the military, especially not when we still have two wars to fight.

Full of indignant demands for the President, neither editorial even seems to consider whether an aggressive effort to get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would threaten the success of so many other liberal initiatives supported by the New Republic and the New Yorker.

As a Republican, I just don’t get where these editorials are coming from. Are you guys trying to do us a favor?

As an advocate of equality, I also don’t get where they’re coming from. Why is it so important right now to get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”? It has real flaws, but it’s lasted for 16 years. Wouldn’t it be a heckuva lot smarter to take a gradual approach that first builds consensus within the military rather than imposing change from outside?

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly

David Adesnik, TMV Guest Voice Columnist
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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • Dr J

    Yes, the military is known for its commitment to management-by-consensus. We certainly wouldn’t want to go against that by introducing edicts from outsiders like the commander-in-chief (sorry, I mean, the consensus-builder-in-chief). Let’s give them another 16 years. Or so.

  • I’m generally a fan of Obama in most things, and I think he’s taking the right tack here. Its absurd to expect him to be able to tackle so many things at once. If he recinded don’t ask, don’t tell, it would command the story for weeks and weeks, if not months and months. Not even a highly popular phenom president can push through so many major policy changes in short order. Universal Healthcare and major energy legislation have to be dealt with now. Injecting this by recinding don’t ask don’t tell would seriously risk sinking both of those things.

  • Father_Time

    NO!

    I say do what the military wants. If military leadership says no open gays in the military then no gays. President Obama, listen to those in the know, our military leaders. If you doubt THAT, then may I suggest taking a vote among active duty military personnel and learn what THEY want.

    Besides, I don’t think most gay people want to force themselves onto our military people unwanted. I’d rather believe that they would like to wait until more people can handle it and are ready.

  • PWT

    For goodness’ sake, let them serve, let them marry.

  • StockBoySF

    One of Obama’s campaign promises was to overturn Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. In fact I think every Democratic presidential candidate had the same position. I also believe the Joint Chiefs said it was time to overturn Don’t Ask. The only people who seemed against it were the GOP presidential candidates. I don’t recall a single one who supported overturning it.

    The GOP uses religious/social issues to gain votes and one of them has tradtionally been around gay rights. However times have changed and this just simply isn’t a wedge issue that the GOP candidates (for whatever office) can effectively use. Perhaps in certain behind-the-times places, but not as a national issue. Particularly when gays and lesbians continue to win the right to marry in more and more places. With a few set-backs, to be sure, but that’s to be expected.

    I’m all for Obama taking his time in pursuing the civil rights portion of his agenda. However this is one policy whose time is clearly passed and I think Obama should banish this now.

    It’s not like gays and lesbians aren’t already serving in the military….

  • Silhouette

    Promises promises….

    The man isn’t God. Not everything he promised he’d do he’ll get done. We should be thrilled if he tackles 1/3 of what he said he would do. He has our country at one of its worst moments…courtesy of Dick Cheney et al.

    Thank Cheney for forcing Obama to put some issues off the unbelievably long “to-do” list.. Sexual-fetish issues just simply don’t take presidence over torture, debt, wars, health care, housing crises, green energy…

  • Father_Time

    Here Here Silhouette, Well said.

  • keelaay

    OK. I am a stupid neanderthal as I simply do not believe that sexual orientation should be a factor in one’s employment and thus I do not understand how it can be appropriate that anyone declare their sexual orientation in the work place.

    My mid size company does not promote, nor discriminate against, sexual orientation. I don’t know the sexual preferences of our employees, nor can I imagine why I should. Many are married, many are not. Those who are married or are single may or may not be gay or heterosexual. One’s sexuality is simply not the business of our board, our management, or our fellow employees. But we certainly are all well aware of which in our company are engineers, which are accountants, which are trained laborers, etc. — such being the qualifications of their employ. Thus if a specific employee decided it important to officially declare their sexuality in our workplace — heterosexual or homosexual — I would find the declaration at the least unnecessary if not inappropriate. If sexuality is not a qualification for employment, then why would the expression of ones sexuality be necessary or appropriate within an equal opportunity work place? (Before debating my point, please substitute “faith” or “religion” for “sexual orientation” and “sexuality” in the above…)

    • Father_Time

      keelaay

      Oh stop. You are making to much sense.

      Though military service is far from, “just employment”, being a sacrifice that people make to preserve our Constitution, like you I also cannot imagine why one’s sexual practices would be relevent. If someone wants to serve there own sexual interests in the military rather than serve the nation, then I would suspect that we wouldn’t have much of a soldier anyway.

      Gays know full well that they are an extreme minority. They also know that “Gay” anything is extremely unpopular among the military population. The very thought of open gay coupling in the military is revolting to so many on so many levels that I have no doubt senior military leadership are correct in saying that it would cause an exodus that we cannot afford to have. Again gay activists know all of this FULL WELL yet they continue to push for what cannot be at this time in history as if the security of the nation meant nothing to them. So they continue to harass and harangue the President for a campaign promise that he could never keep.

      I sympathize with gays wanting to marry and somewhat legitimize their cultural choices in a search for happiness, but it can only go so far. They cannot expect the world to accept and embrace their sub-culture as natural and normal behavior worthy of all the anti-discriminatory legal protections that, for example, racial anti-discriminatory laws are designed to protect.

      For gays I would say if you love your country and want to serve, then serve with sexual obscurity because SERVING is the goal, not sexual opportunity or political legitimization of the gay rights movement. After you get out, you tout your gayness and service openly. In this you will gain much more respect than trying to force your sub-culture upon others.