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More on the Politics of DADT Repeal


What Drum says here is correct:

Democratic spinelessness on this is worth mocking. But let’s get real: the problem isn’t with Senate Democrats, 97% of whom voted to repeal DADT in September. The problem is with Republicans, 100% of whom voted against repeal even though, as the Gallup poll above shows, repeal is favored by 60% of Republicans, a majority of conservatives, the Secretary of Defense, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

100%. Not one single Republican was willing to buck the tea party hordes and vote for DADT repeal. Even Susan Collins of Maine, the only Republican who publicly supports repeal, concocted a transparently bogus excuse not to vote for it.

Democrats may not be profiles in courage here, but they aren’t the villains on DADT repeal. They just aren’t. Republicans are. They’re willing to unanimously filibuster funding for the military in order to pander to the small percentage of their own party that thinks gay people are icky.

Right, as far is it goes. Certainly, DADT repeal is a poor example for those trying to claim that there’s no difference between Democrats and Republicans. But:

But not only are they getting away with the filibuster, they’re turning their obstruction into a political winner by forcing the progressive community into circular firing squad mode. I try really hard to think of politics in terms of the substance of things rather than the quality of the performances, but from a sports fan type perspective you really have to admit that Mitch McConnell has delivered a gutsy virtuoso performance as a legislative leader. It takes a real kind of vision to recognize that relentless obstruction even of overwhelmingly popular progressive ideas can be turned into a political winner by creating fractures in the other side’s coalition.

For a moment, let’s also stipulate for the sake of argument that Drum is also right that the Obama administration shouldn’t use its discretion to refuse a repeal to the ruling overturning DADT, certainly a reasonably position (certainly, legislative repeal would be preferable.) This puts all of the direct blame on Republicans, who deserve at least 90% of the blame in any case.  But this still doesn’t explain why the Democrats are pre-emptively capitulating on an issue on which they hold the political leverage. As Matt says, filibustering defense appropriations bills is unpopular, and DADT is unpopular. Certainly, if the shoe was on the other foot McConnell would force the Dems to filibuster multiple times and put intense pressure on the moderates. It’s entirely possible that there’s nothing Reid can do to get “moderate” Republican frauds to do the right thing, but at least Dems  could get a political victory out of it.   By just surrendering when they hold the political cards, the Democratic leadership must bear some responsibility for the circular firing squad.

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