DADT and the Tax Cut Compromise
Susan Collins has released a statement on the DADT negotiations and reauthorization of the defense bill that would end the 17-year-old ban is on the Senate agenda for noon today. What do we expect will happen?
Nate Silver notes that the debate is caught up in the tax cut crossfire:
First, the tepid reaction among many left-leaning groups to the compromise brokered by President Obama and Mitch McConnell could raise the incentive for Mr. Obama to score a “win” with progressives. The debate in Democratic circles — and there may be some differences of opinion between activist groups and rank-and-file Democrats — essentially amounts to whether the tax cut compromise constitutes a “loss” for liberals or, given the circumstances, a tie. Few Democrats, however, would regard any compromise that extends the current tax rates at the highest income thresholds as an unmitigated good, even if the deal also contains some elements that liberals would ordinarily support. …
The fact is that the longer the tax debate takes, the lower the chances for a DADT repeal; that’s just simple addition and subtraction. Of course, this fact unto itself might color the potential strategies that various parties in the debate will take. Might a conservative Republican — who was otherwise on the fence about the tax bill but who opposed the repeal of DADT — drag his feet in order to eat up time and provide the Senate with fewer days to take up the defense bill? Might a promise from Republicans to allow DADT to be taken up become part of the compromise and help sate recalcitrant Democrats?
So far, President Obama has been quiet on the subject — he didn’t take any questions on DADT during his press conference yesterday — although there are some reports that he is lobbying members of Congress behind the scenes. It is a little surprising that he hasn’t been more vocal about it; perhaps he does not want to raise expectations when victory is far from assured, perhaps he doesn’t think he could do much good, or perhaps he simply has his hands full. But whether or not he might actually have any influence by using the bully pulpit at a time when his approval ratings remain mired in the 40s, a lot of liberals believe Mr. Obama has been too reticent to speak out on their behalf, and by doing so he might regain some of their confidence.
I don’t need him to speak; I’d rather win the vote. I’m still optimistic that it will happen before the break.
RELATED: Ann Coulter spits up another hompophobic DADT column for her World Net Daily fans:
“Maybe we could have an all-gay service! They’d be allowed to wear camouflage neckerchiefs (a la Paul Lynde) and camo capri pants. To avoid any sexual harassment claims, they’d have to have their own barrack, which we could outfit with a dance club, a cosmo bar and a counseling center called ‘The Awkward Place.’ Their band would mostly play show tunes, and soldiers captured by the enemy would be taught to reveal only their name, rank and seasonal color analysis (‘I am Private First Class Jeffrey Smith, and I’m a ‘winter.”) They wouldn’t be allowed in combat, however, for the same reason women aren’t – it takes them too long to get ready.”
More rational and reasoned, Nathaniel Frank, a historian who wrote a report on why and how five countries changed their policies to allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, was a guest on Fresh Air on Tuesday. A snippet:
[L]eaders who are trying to make this a gradual progress, either because of their own resistance or because they want to generate buy-in by all the stakeholders in the military, they would rather control this themselves, and that’s what the current legislation in the U.S. Congress does, is it doesn’t repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell immediately. It gets repeal past Congress as a hurdle, which it’s been for 17 years, and puts it in the hands of the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the president, to say we are now ready when they’re ready, when they’ve been satisfied that all the preparations are in place to end the ban. …
But again, when you look at the evidence, you look at the research, you look at what the courts have said and now look at what the military has said, it becomes harder and harder in court to defend the existing policy. It becomes harder and harder to say this policy had or has a rational basis when all of the research, including the military’s own research and many of its top leaders, though not all, are saying this policy is compromising our effectiveness, our integrity and our talent pool, and so even the courts’ tradition of deferring to the military is now thrown into question.
Of course, the military chaplains object. For more on chaplains and the military, and the increasing influence of evangelicals in the military, see this interview with Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.