Defending the Obama administration’s decision to appeal the ruling holding DADT unconstitutional, Joe From Lowell asserted:
The GOP is going to vote for the Defense Authorization bill. It is a must-pass bill, and DADT is already in it. They can only delay at this point, but they can’t not pass the bill, and even the most optimistic scenarios don’t give them enough votes to remove DADT repeal.
But you already knew that.
I assume many of you have already spotted the flaw in this analysis — to state the obvious, legislation can be re-introduced in different forms. Given this, it would seem implausible in the extreme that the GOP would suddenly agree to a repeal of DADT from a stronger political position. And what do you know:
Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and John McCain of Arizona, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, are in talks on stripping the proposed repeal and other controversial provisions from a broader defense bill, leaving the repeal with no legislative vehicle to carry it. With a repeal attached, and amid Republican complaints over the terms of the debate, the defense bill had failed to win the 60 votes needed to overcome a procedural hurdle in the Senate in September.
Tommy Sears, executive director of the Center for Military Readiness, which opposes a repeal, rated the chance of action “extremely low.” Richard Socarides, an activist and former adviser on gay rights to President Bill Clinton, said it was “extremely unrealistic” that Congress would take it up this year.
Who saw that coming? Why, next thing you’ll tell me that John Boehner isn’t planning on sitting down with Obama and working out a cap-and-trade deal.
If you want to defend the Obama administration’s decision to appeal the DADT ruling on the merits, go ahead (although I disagree.) But let’s not kid ourselves about the consequences: if the appeal succeeds, we’re stuck with DADT for a minimum of two more years. The chances of legislative repeal during this period are essentially zero.
Look, if Democrats can’t repeal a policy more than two thirds of the American people, including a majority of conservatives want gone then they can’t expect people to vote for them. Preserving DADT is rank absurdity, even in 1993 the RAND study commissioned by the government showed that combat effectiveness would not be harmed by allowing openly gay servicemembers to serve, and the fact that DADT investigations are sometimes delayed when servicemembers are deployed undermines the notion that openly gay servicemembers harm the war effort.
The GOP shouldn’t be let off the hook here — it is, after all, their unanimous obstruction that prevented the repeal — but it is nonetheless true that the Democrats have leverage in the form of a defense bill they’re refusing to use, and the Obama administration’s opposition to DADT appears to be entirely nominal.