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Friday, October 15, 2010  

The Waning Days of DADT?

Contrary to early impressions, it may not be the case that the president has decided how to handle the recent judicial decision against the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Marc Ambinder reports:

One group of advisers thinks that he needs to appeal the ruling because he can't get rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" without the Pentagon, and the Pentagon is liable to gum up the works if it thinks the administration wants to dispense with the previously agreed upon timetable, which includes the completion of a major Department of Defense study about integration. A corollary argument here is that the National Security Staff is acutely aware of how difficult the military and Pentagon civilians can make life for the president in many unrelated endeavors. This group believes that if Democrats are successful in the Illinois, Delaware, and West Virginia Senate races -- not an impossible scenario by any means -- that Senate could very well schedule a clean and clear vote in a rump session.

Other groups of advisers believe that Obama should appeal the ruling, but concurrently ask -- or order -- the Department of Defense to take interim steps to halt all current investigations and not to initiate any new ones until the legal proceedings have been completed, or until the Senate authorizes the change in law. Within the Department of Defense, some senior officials are thinking about ways this might work. Others oppose any change to the timetable.

And then there's a group of advisers who appear to be as fed up with the maneuvering as Rachel Maddow is, and who want the president to make a public statement effectively saying, "Enough is enough. We've done this as orderly as we can. We can't control everything. But the policy is dead, as of today." Even under this scenario, gay soldiers wouldn't have access to spousal benefits just yet -- the DoD does need time to figure out how it would all work.

According to the item, Obama is angry about being heckled by anti-DADT protesters, which is the sort of thing that sets the Microscopic Violin Ensemble to tuning up. But dang it if the cautious caucus doesn't have a point here. The September Senate blow-up was a real disaster and not one that can be blamed on the president. All the same, he's got to lay down a marker on this. Since the Senate is so ridiculous and dysfunctional, I'd probably be urging the president to use the ruling as leverage to get the orderly transition back on track. "One way or another, this unjust policy is going to end. If the Senate won't take up the Pentagon's own timetable for ending it, I will direct Attorney General Holder to refrain from appealing or staying this ruling. That's not how we wanted to do it, but I have a sacred obligation to the brave men and women who put themselves in harm's way to protect us" etc flagtroops. Might not work, would certainly leave lots of people not quite satisfied, but at least it would suggest a tickle of passion on this issue, which the president could really use.

posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 9:35 AM
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