DADT Open Thread


Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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190 Responses

  1. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Hey, I’ll drink to that. Actually, we’re going to a big bash tonight and I’m guessing, if history holds, I’ll find plenty of things to drink to tonight. Still, glad to hear it. (I don’t know what it says that I often hear about news items here)Report

  2. Avatar Mike Farmer says:

    I hope this means there will be classier looking uniforms.Report

  3. Avatar spiffie says:

    Considering it was an issue with huge majority support and they just came off an election where their base was suppressed, one could also argue they did at the very worst time, when they couldn’t derive any benefits from actually accomplishing something. Ah well.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      I’m fairly sure that the thinking ran as follows:

      Support may be strong for repeal when you go by opinion polls, but the repealers aren’t terribly sure of themselves and don’t place high value on their opinion. Opponents of repeal are very sure, and do place high value on their opinion. After a repeal, one of two things happens:

      –The U.S. military proves to be just the same as all the other militaries in the enlightened world, and nothing much happens. Repealers have forgotten the issue, but supporters of the ban are still angry, and they turn out to vote. People vote Republican in the next election.

      –The U.S. military proves to be quite different from all other militaries in the enlightened world, and it falls apart at the slightest hint of gays or lesbians in the ranks. American might is broken; the repealers are to blame. People vote Republican for the next fifty years.

      If all you care about is preventing the victory of Republicans, you have everything to lose either way.Report

      • Avatar Barry says:

        Or – it was a far closer thing that it should have been even now.

        Remember, us Democrats have been in a position where getting stuff done at all is an uphill struggle.Report

    • Avatar Simon K says:

      Trouble is, most people who feel very strongly about repeal were going to vote for Democrats anyway for other reasons. People whose vote could be swayed who favor repeal care more about other issues. On the other hand, its a FANTASTIC issue for getting the conservative base out to vote.Report

  4. Avatar Will H. says:

    Told you so.Report

  5. Avatar RTod says:

    The DNC. Motto: We stand for truth if we’re pretty sure no one will notice.

    Still, agree that the main takeaway is that it is finally done. Bravo.Report

  6. Avatar 62across says:

    Seriously, Jason. You’re going to give more words in your post to the idea that the Democrats weren’t principled enough on this vote to hold it when it would really cost them than to the idea that they passed repeal at all. You’re not going to give even a sentence to how DADT was repealed legislatively and not through judicial fiat or to how not using an Executive Order makes reinstatement of the policy by President DeMint fundamentally more difficult? Petty much?Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      I take it for granted that others will say these things. Indeed, I got to the issue a whole hour and a half late, and by then they already had. But I hadn’t seen anyone recall the timing, and I do think it’s salient.

      Besides, if I’d just said “Well done,” someone on the other side woulda called me a librul. Now I get called a resentful conservative. Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.Report

      • Avatar 62across says:

        So we are clear, I called you petty. You conflated that with being called a conservative. Your same salient point has been made plenty from the left.

        Repeal was done and it was done in the right way. Credit where credit is due. No matter what you are called.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          Is it petty to observe that a landmark advance in civil rights is delayed — again and again — to spare the cushy jobs of our representatives? While ordinary gay and lesbian servicemembers are in fear of their jobs?

          I don’t think that’s petty. I’d call it looking out for the common people.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:

            I’m inclined to be charitible* and say that rushing it ‘the first time’ is what caused the current (that is, current as of this morning) situation. Doing the way it was done led to a ‘mission accomlished’ that is strong enough to make it a fait accompli, and further avoided involvement by the courts that would had led to bad precedents or Executive Orders that could be recinded by President Romney or President Huckabee (or challenged in court themselves)

            *which I admit is easier to be on an issue that doesn’t effect one personally.Report

          • Avatar 62across says:

            Fine, train your fire where you wish.

            I choose to give my disdain to those 175 Representatives and 31 Senators who ultimately voted against the interests of gay and lesbian service-members and fought repeal until the very end. You’d rather be disappointed by those who actually believe this was a landmark advance in civil rights.Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              Oh definitely. Few things are black and white in this world. While I’m happy with what the Democrats did, I’m noting one unsavory feature of how they did it. I understand even the Fourteenth Amendment took a bit of logrolling too. But I should not be taken to mean, in noting it, that I’m against the Fourteenth Amendment.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            Is it petty to observe that a landmark advance in civil rights is delayed — again and again Is it petty to observe that a landmark advance in civil rights is delayed — again and again

            By the filibustering of a man whose decency has been entirely obliterated by rage, resentment, and the need to pander to an ultraconservative base?Report

        • Avatar Boegiboe says:

          For those of us wanting more judicial restrictions on the actions of the Executive during wartime, this wasn’t the right way. Remember that the Presidency maintains a great deal of power that could have been eroded had the courts struck down DADT.Report

          • Avatar 62across says:

            DADT was an act of the Legislature, as was repeal. Can you explain how having the courts strike it down would have reigned in excessive Executive power?Report

            • Avatar Boegiboe says:

              I’m not a lawyer. I am now going to sound like I did to the French my first day living in France, when I discovered they don’t talk like the books say. That said:

              The decision against DADT allowed for the court to determine whether a given policy was or was not damaging to the military’s effectiveness. I don’t think such a decision has ever happened with such clarity. Normally, the courts just sit back and say “Go on wit yo bad self!” Ever since Jackson’s “Go ahead and enforce it” tantrum, anyway.

              So, if there is a precedent where the executive+legislature fail to shape up a damaging policy before the courts get to it, then what else could the courts object to? I don’t know, but it’s a foot in the door. That’s what I’d like to see–every foot in the door available to challenge the absolute control of the military by the increasingly unitary executive. Because Congress obviously won’t do their job.Report

  7. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Right, because it’s certainly not likely that Republicans facing primary challenged from the right also contributed to this being a more productive and cooperative legislative session than any other in this Congress.Report

  8. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    The DADT repeal vote:

    Democrats 57-1 for
    Republicans 30-8 against

    Obama: very much for
    McCain: dead set against

    Who gets credit for this historic vote? Obviously, not Obama and the Democrats.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      Are you seriously suggesting that I’m giving Republicans the credit?Report

      • Avatar Will H. says:

        There were those 8 Republican Senators who did take a substantial risk.
        They do deserve credit.

        Politics is really more about building coalitions rather than staking out a position.
        Staking out a position is activism, and that sometimes gets mistaken for politics.

        But it wouldn’t have been possible without the Republicans.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          Staking out a position is activism, and that sometimes gets mistaken for politics.

          “Politics is who gets what, when, how.” Harold Lasswell (American political scientist). When staking a position is the “how” that helps you get something, it certainly would count as politics by Lasswell’s definition (which is arguably the most commonly accepted one in the discipline).

          That’s not meant as a slam or attack; just to contribute to the consideration of what counts as politics.Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            And certainly “Fraud” could be defined by the same terms.
            It may be a definition well accepted, but it’s too broad to be meaningful nevertheless.

            If your point is that activism is a subset of politics, that may well be the case.
            But activism alone rarely accomplishes much.

            It’s still about coalitions.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Oh, I missed this. “it’s too broad to be meaningful nevertheless.” Respectfully, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Any other definition is inaccurately failing to see that damn near every single thing we do as a social species is political. Politics ain’t just about government, and it ain’t just about social movements. Politics begins the moment you have two people instead of just one. Those other things are just large-scale expressions of what begins the moment you have the first dyadic interaction.

              God: “Who ate the damned apple!?”

              Adam: “Oh, shit, ummm, it was her! Take her, not me!”

              Eve: “You bastard! Uh, it was some snake, yeah, yeah, that’s what it was, a snake made me do it!”

              Politics: In the beginning.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                This same definition applies equally to Major League Baseball, prostitution, and keeping fish in an aquarium.
                Each one of those things is about “who gets what, when, how.”
                Of these three things, MLB is without doubt the most political; but even then, it would be a stretch to describe it as “politics” in the ordinary understanding of the word.
                That’s the sort of thing that political scientists tell themselves to make them feel important.
                To the rest of the world, it’s bs.Report

        • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

          You mean the ones who kept filibusterring which is why it took even longer? It is almost as if having republicans made the repeal take longer until a very small minority of them decided to stop being so douchey.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I’ m saying that you’re doing everything in your power not to give any to the Democrats.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      I don’t know. As of this writing Obama hasn’t signed the bill yet. Given his lack of leadership on this issue, I half expect him to veto it while explaining how he really does support it and hope it happens.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        It’s striking 8 bells by now, but what else was he expected to do? He campaigned on it, publically supported it at every opportunity, got his (Republican) Secretary of Defensee and career military Joint Chief of Staff on board to publically state the policy should be changed, had his military leaders commission a study*, and otherwise urged congress to take action. The repeal always had to happen in Congress, because, unlike segregation in the 40’s, that’s where it came from via the ‘Rules of Land Naval Forces’ clause in the Constitution.

        You could argue that fighting the repeal in court was a mixed message (and for instance Boegiboe above does, I disagree**), but ultimately Obama achieved what he set out to achieve.

        *and normally ‘studies’ are where policies go to die. This one wasn’t and designed that way. It was on the other hand, pointed out by both ‘sides’ during the congresional hearings the inherent ridiculousness of polling a military organization on a policy matter.

        **the courts getting involved in this would have not really hindered the ‘unitary executive’ would not have stopped Congress from continue to shirk their constitutionally mandated perogative and responsibility (which I agree is Not A Good Thing). Also, ,ost court decisions that effect the governement, even they achieve ‘results’ are much better at merely producing more bureaucracy. Which already the US DoD is almost as good at as killing people and breaking things) .Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:


          He never really worked Congress on it, so far as we can tell. But then he never seems to really work Congress, so far as we can tell.

          Yes, I’m being unfair to him. But for a guy who keeps saying he strongly supports it to take almost two years to get it done, and then to basically have it done by congressional leaders without him getting directly involved, either he’s a genius behind the scenes and we’ll only find out about it ten or twenty years down the road, or he just doesn’t deserve that much credit himself (although he’ll get it, because he happens to be president now, and presidents could lapse into a coma throughout their term and get both credit and blame for everything that happens).Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            I should add, to be fair to him, I’ve noted in the past that Obama undoubtedly learned from Clinton’s mistake, to not push too hard too early on this and try to make it a signature achievement early in his term. So I don’t blame him for treading cautiously on the issue–if I was his advisor I would have encouraged him to do so.

            But I think it’s an open question whether Obama himself deserves much credit for this, or whether it all goes to Congress.Report

          • Avatar Bucky says:

            Obama’s press secretary has admitted that the Big O had never picked up the phone to call any members of congress to push for DADT repeal.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:


              Do you have a citation for that?

              I would add this, from Carl Levin, outgoing chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee:

              The way I think the President needs to fight is to say that he is going to use all of the power he has of a bully pulpit and urge the Senate to stay in, right up to New Years….that’s the problem that I don’t see that kind of a willingness to fight that hard, where he will take that kind of a position and that’s what’s necessary. The Senate and the House, these are tests of wills.

              I think President Obama wanted DADT the way I want a Ferrari. It would be great if someone brought me one and all I had to do was sign the title, but I’m not actually willing to work hard for it.Report

              • Avatar Bucky says:

                James, I am trying to remember when it was. It was a press conference Gibbs gave maybe a month ago or so. He was asked if The President had called any members of congress in support of the repeal of DADT and Gibbs admitted that he had not.

                It got some negative play with the gay press at the time.

                I’ll try and find a citation for you.

                No promises.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                So Senator Levin says on Sunday that Obama needs to push Congress to stay in town until the New Year so as not to defer the tax issue and DADT repeal.

                And then Congress stays in town through the weekend (which itself is quite rare) and resolves the tax issue and DADT repeal two weeks before the New Year.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                But did Obama push for that, or did Reid? You’re attributing Obama’s favored outcome to Obama’s action, without demonstrating that there actually was any action from Obama.

                Heck, I really wanted the Oregon Ducks to go undefeated this year. They did. I guess I get the credit!

                Seriously–perhaps Obama engaged in some behind the scenes action that none of us are aware of yet. That was Eisenhower’s modus operandi, which gave rise to the phrase “hidden hand presidency” years after he was accused of being too hands-off. I admit the possibility that Obama could be doing this. But until I see some evidence I doubt he is doing this, for multiple reasons: 1) There is as yet no evidence to suggest he is, and some evidence to suggest otherwise; 2) Speaking of presidents in general, not just Obama, it is simply more likely that the appearance of lack of action actually reflects a lack of action than that it reflects behind the scenes action that nobody is mentioning (it was much easier to operate behind the scenes unnoticed in Ike’s day than it is today); and 3) Obama’s meteoric rise to the presidency didn’t really give him time to develop great political negotiation skills (whereas Ike’s long career in the military did give him such skills).

                My impression of Obama is that he tended toward a belief that he could move people to action just through his rhetoric–that’s certainly what made his rise to national prominence and to the presidency possible (and his senatorial election was made possible by facing the world’s worst ever Republican candidates), so it wouldn’t be surprising if that shaped his confidence in his rhetorical skills (each of us should imagine how winning the presidency would affect our own sense of self). And I think he’s finding the limits of the power of rhetoric, but has relied on it too long, so that he’s still a beginner in the use of other tools of persuasion.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                I can’t disagree with anything in your latest post, but it seems to reflect a change in your stance from “Obama doesn’t care about DADT” to “His political skills for pushing legislation through are subpar”.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                OK, that’s a fair enough reading. My original comment was a bit snarky. I think Obama does care about DADT, but not that terribly much beyond its political value, which I think explains why he never put much effort into it.* And beyond not appearing to put much effort into it, I don’t think he really knew how to beyond simply reasserting his support for it. **

                *I saw recently that he was not eager to have the Senate take it on as a stand-alone issue because he was more interested in getting them to work, in the lame-duck session, on the START treaty.

                **And just what has he done in terms of moving the Senate forward on the START treaty, beyond asserting that he wants it?Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Ditto to what Mr. Shilling said, can’t disagree with what just wrote. I’m not that interested in defending Obama, just think ‘a win is a win’, and there’s plenty of other things that Obama needs to provide ‘leadership’ on – and in some, is only one that can – and hasn’t (for instance, issues involving a certain country in South Central Asia)Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Sure. It’s not as Obama he campaigned on it or directed his Secretary of Defense to work the issue through the Joint Chiefs.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          Campaigning on it don’t mean shit. I’ll give you that he had the SecDef work on it. At this point in time, though, it’s unclear whether that was a foresighted strategic tactic, a stalling tactic *, or a way of trying to make the issue disappear. Historians will figure that one out for us.
          *A year or so ago, liberals were calling it a delay tactic, so it’s a bit odd to hear it being praised now as a strategic tactic. But it’s certainly possible it in fact was. Were I more impressed with Obama’s strategic sense overall, I’d be more willing to buy into that belief. However I will take it as possible reason to revise my estimate of his strategic sense upward a bit.Report

        • Avatar Mike Farmer says:

          Will you feel better, Mike, if I say that Barack Obama is the cat’s pajamas?Report

  9. Avatar trizzlor says:

    Did the democrats somehow hold up the DADT survey until after election?Report

  10. Avatar ppnl says:

    I dunno but it seems like Obama should take a lot of the credit for this. It looks like a lot of behind the scenes work was done in getting the military behind this. Without that there is no way congress was going to do anything.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Practically speaking, he should indeed take the credit. He’d be a fool not to. But should we give him the credit? That’s where I think we may differ.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        You don;t seem to be offering anything but obstinacy on the question at this point. I’m perfectly comfortable that there be a discussion and that the credit not go to him presumptively, but here you’re responding to a comment that offers a particular suggestion as to just why credit (a lot, not all!) should go to Obama on this. I’ve been following your arguments, and as far as I can see they amount to the claim that, whatever he did, he didn’t demonstrate enough leadership to satisfy you on it. But you’re not addressing responses here that directly answer why he does deserve credit. You’re just saying you don;t see it that way. Fine, but do you at this point hold that you have a case as to why we should think substantial, though certainly partial, credit on this shouldn’t go to Obama, or do you basically admit that your view is simply a result of an attitude you are determined to maintain on the question? Because the case against your position in this thread to my way of seeing it is objectively persuasive, and you don’t seem to be making much if any effort to counter it at all.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          you’re not addressing responses here that directly answer why he does deserve credit.

          I haven’t seen much of an argument for why he deserves credit, other than a) that he said he would like Congress to stay in town and b) he had the military do the study. And I did address both of those, dismissing one and half-accepting the other while noting that a year ago liberals were dismissing it as a stalling tactic.

          do you at this point hold that you have a case as to why we should think substantial, though certainly partial, credit on this shouldn’t go to Obama

          Yes, and I think I’ve made that case clear. It’s not evident to me that Obama actually took any specific steps that can be shown to have played a causal role in this outcome. If he didn’t take any specific steps that played a causal role, what are the grounds for giving him credit?

          or do you basically admit that your view is simply a result of an attitude you are determined to maintain on the question?

          How can you ask such a question when you’ve made no effort to rebut my claims? Before you accuse me of merely being obstinate, show me where I’m wrong. Show me just what the heck actions Obama took beyond some mild rhetoric.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew says:

            The whole point here is that the very comment you were responding to says what he did: rally nearly the entire uniformed and civilian military leadership during wartime around a push to achieve a legislative repeal. This allowed repeal to happen. If the chiefs and a Republican SecDef aren’t on board, it doesn’t happen during wartime no matter what liberals in Congress want. That’s what he did; it’s been pointed out in the thread already; you’re not dealing with the argument. That’s why I say you are displaying obstinacy.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Umm, I’ve seen no evidence that Obama did any rallying of either the uniformed or the civilian military leadership. They asked for time to do a study, Obama agreed with them that taking time to do a study would be good (perhaps they rallied him), liberals complained that Obama and the military leadership were just stalling because who needed a study to know if you should do the right thing. Now, in retrospect, that “stalling” tactic becomes a “rallying” tactic. I’m not trying to be an ass, but I do think it’s a bit of a convenient plot twist.

              But precisely what “rallying” has Obama done on this? It’s been pointed out above that his press secretary said they wouldn’t press Congress to stay in session over it. That’s rallying them? Armed Services Committee chair Carl Levin complained that Obama wasn’t pushing it. That’s Obama rallying people? Obama’s spokespeople hinted at being worried that DADT would be put ahead of START on the agenda. That’s rallying support?

              you’re not dealing with the argument

              I’m sorry, but that’s just bullshit. Except for a snark for fun here and there, I’ve consistently dealt with the argument by writing rebuttals of it. Perhaps you find my rebuttals unpersuasive–I’d disagree, but I can accept that. But to say I’m not dealing with the argument is just a flat out lie, and I can’t help but wonder what kind of person I’m debating with who would stoop to making such a blatantly false statement about my arguments.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                You can ask your associate contributors what kind of person I am. I don’t find your treatment of the argument to be dealing with it. That’s my judgment to make, I believe, not a lie or statement of objective truth. The argument here is simply a flat assertion that, if we grant he desired this outcome, and we grant he had a great deal of control over the path taken to pursue it, then the fact that it came about means he deserves a good deal of the credit. My judgment is that you are not dealing with that argument. Is it possible that I wouldn’t accept anything less than a concession that it is a valid argument with premises supported in evidence as dealing with it? Perhaps, since that is what I believe, though I don’t think it is the case. But in any case, no, I do not believe you have dealt with it. It’s not clear to me what liberal grousing at certain points about tactical decisions (an inevitability), or even the possibility that via the DOD report the tactic of stalling (which perhaps might only be distinguished from “rallying” the brass and civilian leadership by an interpretive judgment in any case) was indeed employed within an overall strategy changes about the argument. If you claim to be dealing with this argument by denying he desired this outcome, I don’t see where you have done that above such that I am a liar, and moreover, I believe it would be a claim not supported by the majority of the available evidence, so even then I do not believe that claim would “deal” with this argument.

                I would submit that at best what drives this dispute is a disagreement about how executive responsibility and presidential leadership might be applied in various circumstances, and hence their effectiveness in achieving results assessed, and I would be happy to honorably leave the matter at that. I would appreciate thinking I might come to this site to engage in debate without having my integrity publicly questioned by a contributor in response to my giving what I have just clearly demonstrated to be a legitimate (if, obviously, essentially debatable) assessment of an argument, not a “flat out lie” about it.Report

              • Avatar Will says:

                I think there’s legitimate room for dispute here (we are, after all, talking about a process that was largely hidden from public view), so can we all agree to step back from the ledge and withdraw the accusations of blatant bad faith?Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I think this belongs below the other guy’s comments.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                By which I mean, I didn’t intend, and would never take, charge that a person is being obstinate, arguing from a motivation slightly removed from the logical points used to argue, or of not dealing with, or even of not addressing, valid opposing points that have been made to be charges of bad faith. On the other hand, a charge of outright lying I think cannot be other than a charge of bad faith. I believe James has done what I have said above – though I acknowledge that in saying he had not “addressed” certain points, I was in the wrong as I wrote the comment. There I was referring in my mind to his response to ppnl’s raising of the president’s approach to the military leadership on the question. I had been off-put by the opening of his response to Mike Schilling’s raising the point (“Campaigning on it don’t mean shit.”), and failed to fully digest the rest of that response, the most consequential portion of which comes in an asterisked footnote within an eight-line comment. In any case, he did address the question there, though not in the case of ppnl’s raising the point, which is what I meant to refer to (again, I was unclear) in saying “here” in the complaint in question. The question of “dealing” with arguments I have already given my view of.

                To reiterate, none of the criticisms of James’ arguments that I have made were intended as charges of bad faith. But if they are nevertheless not welcome I am willing to withdraw whichever ones those are.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Michael Drew,

                I’m not asking you to withdraw anything, and I’m not accusing you of bad faith. I’m only saying that I think you’re dead wrong. I consistently dealt with each claim of why Obama deserves credit. And I’ll deal with the one you threw out here. To wit;

                The argument here is simply a flat assertion that, if we grant he desired this outcome, and we grant he had a great deal of control over the path taken to pursue it, then the fact that it came about means he deserves a good deal of the credit.

                This argument still skips a logical step. I grant he desired the outcome. I grant that a president can exert a great deal of control over the outcome. But the question remains did he exert control? Even given that he can, the fact that the outcome was achieved does not in itself say anything about whether he did, unless his effort was necessary to achieve the goal. I don’t think his effort was necessary, so the logic assumed in your argument doesn’t, from my analysis, follow at all.

                Let me give a straightforward example.
                1. I desired that my daughter would go to school this morning.
                2. I had a great deal of control over whether she went to school this morning (I could force her to go against her wishes, or I could keep her home against her wishes).
                3. My daughter went to school this morning.

                Do I automatically get credit? That depends on whether I actually played any role in her going to school today or not. Perhaps she got up, got herself ready, and walked to school without any action on my part. Perhaps my wife got up and took her to school. Because my action wasn’t necessary to the outcome, even though I had the ability to single-handedly determine the outcome, we can’t assume from the three steps in the logic above that I actually had anything to do with it.

                The same logic holds true for presidents and legislation in general. Unless you can show the specific actions Obama took, you can’t logically demonstrate that he himself actually played a significant role in the outcome.

                And so far, each argument against me that I’ve seen here keeps skipping that crucial logical step. Everyone seems to want to infer that he deserves credit, rather than demonstrating specifically how he earned it.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                When I mentioned that this came down to basic differences about presidential leadership etc, this is what I meant. It’s basically a discussion about the ontology of “credit” in this context, and I’m not really interested. It pretty much stopped being about the matter at hand in any case when I was publicly accused of lying and had “what kind of person I am” raised as an issue. Happy holidays.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                OK, you’re offended. But please go back and look at what you said. You accused me of “not dealing with the issue,” when in each of my posts I was making specific statements about what Obama did or did not do. That’s very much dealing with the issue, whether we want to phrase it as “giving credit,” or “presidential leadership.”

                I retract the word “lying” and apologize for it, because lying implies purposeful dishonesty, and I have no basis for saying you were being purposely dishonest.

                However what you said was in fact false, and after the effort I put in to be specific about my claims–far more specificity than any of my critics ever managed–it was a bit of a pisser to be accused of not dealing with the issue. If, at this point, you are still insisting that I did not deal with the issue, I’ll have no reason to treat you with any further consideration at all.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I will say this: of courseyou get significant credit for your daughter’s going to school this morning, regardless of whether you specifically did the work today of getting her out of bed, giving her breakfast, driving her, etc. You have given her a warm home in which she can wake up and have getting to school be the priority in her life (as opposed to, say, figuring out what or when breakfast might be or attending to a drug-addicted father); you have made clear that it is expected of her that she go to school every day even if you’re not there to force her to do it; you may have even created n environment in your home in which education is highly valorized and rewarded, contributing to the development of a real intrinsic desire on her part to go to school.

                I don’t even argue that Obama’s part in DADT is proportional to yours in this example – he seems yo have done far less proportionally than what I have just described of you, but I am saying that the kind of credit he should receive is analogous to the kind you quite obviously should for the positive decisions on your daughter’s part that you have helped he to be in a position to make.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                Nah, I slept in this morning while my wife got the kid to school. I think you’re reaching. But my friend that I mentioned is, think going to write a guest post for us, and in our phone conversation today he made a strong argument against my position. I won’t spoil it by revealing his argument, though.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                As I said, it doesn’t matter what you were doing this morning. In all seriousness, if you don’t give yourself credit for everything I mentioned about your commitment to your daughter’s well being – including a part of the credit for some of the choices she makes that are helped along by that commitment – you’re doing yourself a real disservice, and I think(!) most parent on this board would agree; in any case I think they should agree. In responding this way as well I think you are showing that you are operating with something of a stilted understanding of how giving credit for outcomes should work. Overweening analytic commitment to certain highly personally valued academic questions can do that to a person.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                Of course I actually do take credit. But I think you’re trying to make my analogy carry too much weight. Of perhaps I should just kick myself for devising an analogy that I couldn’t satisfactorily control, and constrain only to the limits I wanted for it. *grin*Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                And, while that’s snarky, I don’t mean it as a critcism – there’s every good reason for you to have your rigorous understanding of how to assign credit. I only think there is room for other understandings of how we might hand out credit for accomplishments like this as well – and that more than one of them can be valid at the same time. I look for ward to reading about what your friend had to say on the matter. I’d also be interested, by the by, in seeing what would transpire in a dialogue between yourself and Jonathan Bernstein of A Plain Blog About Politics on this subject.

                Again, Happy Holidays to you and your family, James.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:


                Happy holidays to you and yours, too. I think you’ll like what my friend has to say (he almost persuades me!).

                I’m not familiar with Bernstein, but I’ll have to go look at his work.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                I would certainly be making the analogy carry too much weight (though, as you say, that’d would be on you in part) if I were saying it satisfies your 10-page paper model of credit-giving. But actually I thin it pretty nicely illustrates what I am saying about the legitimacy of different standards that people might very use in assigning credit under different, but again, still legitimate understandings of how credit for accomplishments should work.Report

              • Avatar Michael Drew says:

                Definitely recommend Bernstein. I think you’ll find a lot to agree and a lot to disagree with, in most all instances strenuously.

                link here:

      • Avatar ppnl says:

        He didn’t force the issue in congress but he did lay the foundation on which congress justified the repeal. One could argue that that is a better role for presidential power anyway.

        I’m not a great fan of Obama. He has mostly legitimized the excesses of the Bush era. But I don’t have much of a problem with this. In any case I have to agree that criticizing the wishy washyness of the democrats is kinda strange given the overt insanity that has taken over the republicans.

        The fact is I did not expect this at all and so am not inclined to complain. I suspect the republicans saw this as a chance to end an issue that was destined to be a long term negative for them. Maybe they deserve most of the credit. A rare show of semi-sanity even if they can’t acknowledge it.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          OK, at some point I’m going to turn everyone against me, but…exactly how did he lay the foundation for Congress? My objection is to these vague statements about what President Obama did, which are consistently empty of any description of actual actions or steps taken. I’m open to argument on this issue, but vague claims don’t really make for persuasive claims. What exactly did President Obama do that laid a foundation? He either did actual specific actions or he didn’t. So far the only actual specific action I’ve seen someone mention (besides making it clear that–contra my opening snark–he wouldn’t veto a DADT repeal) is approving the military’s study, but I stand by my point that this is only an after-the-fact reinterpretation of something liberals initially viewed as a sellout, a stalling and delay tactic.

          Look, I’m not claiming Obama is evil. I’m just asking for concrete specific actions that he took, not hand-waving about “supported,” “encouraged,” and so on. That’s not how legislation gets passed–talk to anyone with experience on Capitol Hill and they’ll tell you that.

          But I’ll do this. I have a friend who worked on Capitol Hill, was intimately involved in passing legislation, and still watches what goes on there with depressing intensity. I’ll ask him his thoughts on Obama’s role in this and dutifully post his comments. If Obama took concrete steps, he’ll be sure to have observed it more closely than I have, so if he says Obama played a real role in making it happen, I’ll publicly eat crow.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            I remain baffled by charges that Obama hasn’t shown leadership or used the bully pulpit in areas like DADT where the sole obstacle has been united Republican opposition using the filibuster. The Democratic vote was already damned near unanimous. What, beyond giving Republicans cover to defect (mission accomplished), would you have had him do?Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              I’m evidently not making myself clear, and I wish I knew how to make my message clearer. Presidents do multiple specific actions that move legislation forward.

              1. They use the bully pulpit to get the public to put pressure on specific legislators–I haven’t seen Obama do that. Merely publicly saying, “I support this” does not really count as using the bully pulpit. Certainly presidential scholars would not say it does. And saying he wanted to deal with START before getting to DADT isn’t exactly using the bully pulpit effectively in support of it.

              2. Presidents engage in horsetrading, promising specific support for items of specific legislators in exchange for their support. Obama did this with unemployment benefits (although I think he got a bad deal), but I haven’t seen him do it with this issue.

              3. Presidents work hard on specific legislators, leaning on them, calling them on the phone, inviting them to the oval office to talk one-on-one or in very small groups. There’s no evidence he’s done this. Granted this could have been done on the relative down-low, but in this day and age it’s a lot harder to keep that undercover than in past eras. And I haven’t seen any Republican senators say they got calls from the President (correct me if I’m wrong, because obviously it could have happened and I just missed it).

              Those are the types of things I mean by specific actions. But you’re again sticking to vague generalities–“shown leadership,” “used the bully pulpit.” There’s a notable lack of detail there.

              Because I’m a teacher who asks students to write about things like this, and someone who writes occasional policy briefs, I tend to think about these things from a report writing perspective–if I had to write a 5,000 word policy brief, or ask a student to write a 10 page paper, about the repeal of DADT, how much detail would I or the student be able to give to Obama’s role in all this? So far–and let me emphasize once again, so far (future information could change my mind)–I am not seeing the kind of detail that would fill up space in a report and provide explanatory power.Report

          • Avatar ppnl says:

            Well he has a military that isn’t dead set against it and actively promoted repeal of DADT. I assume that he did something to get there but I really don’t know. He got them to do the study that suggested that it wasn’t going to be a problem. That would not have happened under a republican.Report

  11. Avatar Bo says:

    the Democrats chose the single moment in all the possible permutations of the election cycle when it would cost them the very least

    Actually, they chose the single moment when it would cost Republican Senators the very least to support it. Because 1) they needed some to vote for it, and 2) they would (and still will) be the ones who could lose their jobs for voting for it. For those who somehow believe this was Democratic cowardice, consider that DADT repeal was successfully filibustered 56-43 back in September, i.e. before the election, with all the same Democrats voting for it then (well, except Harry Reid changed his vote to No so he could re-introduce it) but none of the Republicans.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      Actually, they chose the single moment when it would cost Republican Senators the very least to support it.

      Precisely. Which is what allowed them to support it at all, which is why it happened at all, and why it happened when it did.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        I agree with Bo as well. Of course Obama had dick-all to do with Reid scheduling this vote, and even objected to it because it might interfere with getting START ratified.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          Which it has. And glad as I am that DADT is finally gone, I’m not sure that prioritizing nuclear weapons reduction was the wrong call.

          Now, why is there a trade-off between the two? Because the Republicans are complete assholes: not just supporting DADT but punishing the whole world because they lost on it. And why wouldn’t they be? The strategy of total opposition to everything Obama proposes just won them huge gains. What you’re really complaining about is that Obama didn’t find a way to make them pay for it.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            And glad as I am that DADT is finally gone, I’m not sure that prioritizing nuclear weapons reduction was the wrong call.
            Well, I can’t say I necessarily disagree on that point. Prioritizing nuclear weapons reduction is in and of itself a worthy call.

            But were I advising the Prez (fat chance that will ever happen), I would be telling him that he has a lot better chance of getting START through the next Senate than of getting DADT through the next House. DADT’s window was closing, but START’s isn’t (at least I’m predicting that it’s not, particularly if Obama has better legislative skills than I’ve given him credit for).

            That is, I think legislatively DADT repeal should have been given priority over START, because I think that gave the best opportunity for getting both done. But on a moral scale, I don’t disagree about START’s importance.

            What you’re really complaining about is that Obama didn’t find a way to make them pay for it.
            I don’t understand that comment at all. That’s certainly not what I’m objecting to, if the comment happened to be directed at me.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        Precisely. Which is what allowed them to support it at all, which is why it happened at all, and why it happened when it did.

        To believe this, I’d have to believe that there were Republican senators who were willing to sink a defense authorization bill if it contained a repeal of DADT, but were willing to vote in favor of a stand-alone repeal bill. In other words, Republicans willing to vote against the defense authorization on an excruciatingly small point of principle: “There are some number of things that should not go in a defense authorization bill, and this is one of them, never mind all the other ridiculous stuff that’s in there.”

        Keeping these things out of the defense auth bill is SO important, apparently that they were willing to risk DADT not getting repealed at all. Do you really believe this?

        I know I’m harsh on Republicans, but wow. Even Susan Collins wasn’t that petty, because her votes didn’t threaten to kill the defense authorization.Report

  12. Avatar Jaybird says:

    This is a good thing.

    One hopes that, in 10 years, folks won’t remember what the fuss was about.Report

  13. Avatar North says:

    Well I for one am delighted. I’m not sure if Obama has a lot to do with it. It’s hard to tell what all happened behind the scenes and based on what I saw publicly it seems like more credit should lay with Reid and Pelosi (that last minute rushing of the stand alone DADT through the congress saved the entire process I honestly didn’t think she could do it). It feels like Obama played effective politics with the issue in a way he wouldn’t have if he genuinely cared (fierce advocacy) about it.

    But I will say this. The way DADT went down under Obama was slow and enraging for his supporters but I would hazard that this was a very very thorough killing of DADT. I don’t think there’ll be any way for a successor President to just wave their executive pen and resurrect it. So perhaps it was worth it in the end. We should probably just take the win and be happy. Really it’s a victory for the entire country except maybe NOM or something.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      I would hazard that this was a very very thorough killing of DADT. I don’t think there’ll be any way for a successor President to just wave their executive pen and resurrect it.
      I think that’s probably right. I had mixed feelings at the beginning about the Pentagon study, because I thought it might be a put-up job. It wouldn’t have been hard at all to do a purposely biased study purporting to show that allowing gays to serve openly would jeopardize our crucial missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. But by being a decent study–despite it’s right-wing critics’ complaints (and they wouldn’t know a good study if it was shoved up their a**es, in order to get it closer to their heads)–I agree with you that it’s laid the issue to rest.

      Well, the process of making the change may still be slow, and there may be minor setbacks and delays, but I think it’s clear that the war’s won, and the remaining battles are just mop-up operations, rather than real threats to victory. The Pentagon has clearly said it’s not a problem, and they’ll have a hard time backing down from that at a time when a majority of the public support gay rights.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        You want to know how cynical I can be? Check this out:

        The new law probably won’t go into practice for months. Obama and his top advisers must first certify that repealing the 1993 ban on gays serving openly will not damage U.S. troops’ ability to fight. That ban, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” has allowed gays to serve, but only if they kept quiet about their sexual orientation…

        Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a research institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said he expects the Pentagon to announce shortly that it needs a long time for training and education to prepare troops for the change – possibly lasting much of 2011.

        Plenty of time to stall until the next president comes along, perhaps. And… training and education? Yeah, that’ll go over real well.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Maybe Jason, but I think the military can see the shallowness of the GOP 2012 presidential field just as well as we can. Barring some horrible unemployment numbers or a black swan if I were military top brass I’d be planning on dealing with the current CiC until 2016.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          As one again, Jason digs in to find some reason to disbelieve that Obama and the Democrats did something (anything) good. Not that he’s a partisan, mind you …Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

            Do you have any idea how often I’ve been accused of partisanship for the other side?

            The answer — enough that all I can do is laugh. I cheered the repeal of DADT, but I sighed over the timing. If this makes me a Republican partisan, what about that 30-8 against you keep railing about? I don’t seem to fit over there, not even by your own standards.

            The truth is, if I’d been in Congress I would have voted for repealing DADT at any time, in any context, with virtually any procedural ruleset, provided it wasn’t attached to a still more odious bill. But I know very well that that’s not how the leadership of either party works. Votes are timed, that’s all I’m saying.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

              The truth is, if I’d been in Congress I would have voted for repealing DADT at any time, in any context, with virtually any procedural ruleset, provided it wasn’t attached to a still more odious bill.

              Me too. Of course, if we’d been in the Senate, we couldn’t have done that without cloture.Report

  14. Avatar Ian M. says:

    I thought Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was about Christmas presents, so I was opposed to the repeal. Imagine my surprise!Report

  15. Avatar jfxgillis says:


    You have GOT to be kidding. The Democrats have lost who knows how seats in Congress the last twenty years, and quite possibly the White House itself in 2004 and you dare, you DARE to rebuke them for arranging this to have the least possible partisan damage?

    Really, the idea of one of you CATO Institue phonies exploiting gay-bashing social conservatives for twenty years to get your noxious Ayn Rand stupidity advanced in Congress only to have you complain about the Democrats not bleeding enough for their principles is disgusting. Nauseating, actually.

    There’s literally no segment of the American polity I HATE more than you and yours. The ignorant social conservatives are at least sincere if misguided and I have some sympathy, actually, for their problems in facing a world and a country infinitely more complex and confusing than the one they knew twenty, forty, sixty years ago. I think they’re wrong but I don’t think they’re evil.

    You, on the other hand, are evil.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      Really, the idea of one of you CATO Institue phonies exploiting gay-bashing social conservatives for twenty years

      Actually, I think we’ve been annoying them for the last twenty years, and more. That’s how long we’ve been opposing their agenda.

      But thanks for raising the tone of the discussion around here.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      You don’t know how many seats the Dems have lost in the last 20 years? It’s not that hard to figure out. In 1984 they were in the 98th Congress. They had 272 seats in the house, and in the upcoming 112th Congress they’ll have only 193, a loss of 79 seats. But of course a lot of those lost seats were in the South, held by uberconservative Southern Dems (states whose congressional legislation was then majority Dem, but is now majority Rep include Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.) You think they would have voted for repealing of DADT? Focusing on party labels doesn’t get you where you want to go–not in that time frame.

      As for the Senate, in the 98th Congress, Republicans had a 55-45 majority, while in the 112th Congress Dems have effectively a 53-47 majority. So while the Dems have lost the House compared to 1984, they have gained the Senate.

      Oh, and in addition to not having done your research, your comment is just plain offensive.Report

      • Avatar jfxgillis says:


        your comment is just plain offensive.

        I quite realize that. It was intended to be.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          Yeah, but you’re flat out wrong. I’m become very familiar with the old diatribe about libertarians getting in bed to suck the cock of social conservatives, but for a whole hell of a lot of us it just ain’t true. You’re painting with a very wide brush, and while you may feel smugly superior, on our end it’s rather apparent just how little you know about us.

          Oh, and by the way, you also didn’t do your research. Did I happen to mention that?Report

          • Avatar jfxgillis says:


            but for a whole hell of a lot of us it just ain’t true.

            Shrug. Possibly so. We’ll see.

            First, whether it’s true for you personally or not, and even whether it’s true for Jason personally or not, I made a specific point to address the institutional aspect by referencing his affiliation with CATO. Institutionally, the libertarian/post-modern-classical-liberal movement did nothing to advance this cause and they did much to retard it.

            Now. Let’s see about you personally. In which election, faced with a choice between a pro-DADT repeal Democrat and an anti-DADT-repeal Republican, did you vote for or donate money to or write to endorse the pro-DADT repeal candidate?Report

            • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

              Have you noticed the Cato Institute’s work on the subject? It was uniformly on the side of repealing DADT.

              If that’s not institutional support, what pray tell would count? Because every time we write in favor of lowering taxes, we certainly get the blame for that!

              As to candidates and candidate contributions, you should realize you are asking personal questions, and your tone thus far at the site doesn’t oblige me to give a response.

              Still, here goes. We made a small donation to Barack Obama during the general election. Our family has donated in the past to NGLTF, the ACLU, and the state-level group Equality Maryland. (We don’t give to HRC for reasons I don’t want to get into here.)

              In elections, I generally either vote Libertarian or don’t vote at all. The last time I voted Republican in a presidential election was in 1996, when I voted for Steve Forbes in the primary. I did vote for John Kerry, in the hopes of stopping a second George W. Bush term.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Institutionally, the libertarian/post-modern-classical-liberal movement did nothing to advance this cause and they did much to retard it.

              So you claim, but you have not provided any evidence for it.

              In which election, faced with a choice between a pro-DADT repeal Democrat and an anti-DADT-repeal Republican, did you vote for or donate money to or write to endorse the pro-DADT repeal candidate?

              Michigan 7th. I voted for Democrat Mark Schauer over religious rightist minister Republican Tim Walberg. I also voted for Obama in ’08, although not with great enthusiasm. Did you have some grand vision of backing me or Jason into a corner with that one?

            • Avatar Matty says:

              James has mentioned several times that he voted for Obama does that count?Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. says:

          It wasn’t so much that I found it offensive, but then again I’m not really a libertarian, nor am I evil. So there’s that. But I just think the comment cancels itself out, because the first part says, “Jason, I have this problem with what you posted”, and then the second part says, “Nah, I just hate you libertarians, so I’d pretty much hate anything you wrote”.Report

          • Avatar jfxgillis says:


            “Nah, I just hate you libertarians, so I’d pretty much hate anything you wrote”.

            That’s actually not true. While I believe libertarianism in toto is an adolescent worldview, there are elements of it, or specficic policies they champion, that I might and do support.

            My objection in this thread is to the chutzpah of the author complaining about the Dems doing it the easy way after we spent twenty goddamn years doing it the hard way. It’s mind-boggling how stupid that complaint is.

            Not unlike, I might add, current day conservative Southern white Republicans taking credit for the Civil Rights Acts of the ’60s because some northern Republican they never heard of helped pass it. I’m always tempted to ask, “Oh. Really? How’d your Pappy feel at the time?”Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:


      This is why I compare people to Hitler.

      Two days later, when we happen to agree on something, I can still maintain eye contact with them.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        You know who else maintained eye contact with people?Report

      • Avatar jfxgillis says:


        Do you mean “don’t” compare people to Hitler?

        Funny you should mention that because Jason’s complaint is literally fascistic. The idea, if you don’t get it, is to exploit the prejudices of the unenlightened masses to advance another agenda, an agenda, btw, the frequently goes against the interests of those masses.

        If you or Jason can show me a single example of CATO or any of the the other post-modern classical liberal think tanks/journals endorsing a pro-DADT-repeal Democrat over a social conservative Republican because of DADT or gay marriage or any other gay rights issue, I’ll withdraw my claim.

        The CATO Institute and the related classical liberal think tank/journals sacrificed less than nothing to get DADT repealed. In fact, they benefitted from the failure to repeal because those social conservatives that got elected advanced other elements of their agenda. To waltz in after twenty years whining about the political capital Dems expended, the political blood they shed, is despicable.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          If you or Jason can show me a single example of CATO or any of the the other post-modern classical liberal think tanks/journals endorsing a pro-DADT-repeal Democrat over a social conservative Republican because of DADT or gay marriage or any other gay rights issue, I’ll withdraw my claim.

          Um, instead of putting the burden of proof on others, why don’t you show a single example of Cato (not CATO) endorsing a conservative Republican over a pro-DADT-repeal Dem?

          I could be wrong, but since Cato’s a non-profit, I suspect you won’t find them endorsing any candidates.

          But for your edification (since you’re still failing to do your own research), here are some Cato links where they explicitly endorse the repeal of DADT.

          That took all of thirty seconds.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          If you or Jason can show me a single example of CATO or any of the the other post-modern classical liberal think tanks/journals endorsing a pro-DADT-repeal Democrat over a social conservative Republican because of DADT or gay marriage or any other gay rights issue, I’ll withdraw my claim.

          If that’s your bargain, it’s in bad faith. The Cato Instititue is barred by law from endorsing candidates, a matter of common knowledge I believe.

          We did however publish several articles supporting DADT repeal, in particular by my colleague David Rittgers. In professional venues, I tend to defer to him on this subject because he’s both heterosexual and a decorated military veteran.

          Also, he’s less bitter than I am, which is probably for the best.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          No, I mean “do”.

          And, usually, it’s one of those “worse than” comparisons.Report

    • Avatar Mike Farmer says:

      “You, on the other hand, are evil.”

      Oh shit, time for another exorcism — where did we put the cross?Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain says:

      Jack tone it down. We have a commenting policy for a reason.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      It’s great to have some passion on the League commentariate JFX (and as a homosexual myself I genuinely appreciate your support) but lets try and have some civility and magnanimity in victory yes?Report

  16. Avatar Alli says:

    Yeah, uhm I don’t know what you are talking about but a vote on DADT took place PRIOR to the midterms where EVERY DEMOCRAT voted for it. Replace the word Democrat with Republicans in your post and get back to me.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      Before the election it failed, and it was deliberately arranged to fail, as we’ve noted here previously.Report

      • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

        In light of recent events that conspiracy theory rings hollow.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

          It’s not a conspiracy theory. The weeks ticked by while ordinary soldiers’ jobs remained under threat. Why? Political advantage to some very powerful people — individuals who either don’t have to work at all, or who will certainly get extra-nice jobs even if the voters do toss their sorry butts out of office.Report

          • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

            Or you need 60 votes to get over the objections of our shiny GOP overlords and you couldn’t get any of them to agree to let the bill to the floor before the election as they knew that it would hurt their chances.

            It is almost as if there was a pre-election vote that was filibustered by the republicans something about a defence bill that also had another priority attached to it that the democrats badly wanted. Oh noes how dare they try to pass their agenda.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Pirate, I feel ya but objectively Jason is correct. The Dems had a veto proof majority in the Senate and the House early on. DADT could have been passed very easily had they chosen to do it. They made a political calculus and chose not to. They assumed that they’d need all their political oomph for their healthcare fight (and assumed rightly, they did it so badly they almost lost that anyhow). They assumed that little GOP fight would be put up over a DADT repeal; they assumed incorrectly. Keep in mind that they decided this early on before the GOP “obstruct everything” agenda was apparent.

              But really in the end we got it. The only real criticism one can level is that Obama turned out to be a political supporter but seemed personally indifferent to the DADT repeal instead of being the “fierce advocate” he promised to be.

              But we did win it in the end. So that’s reason to celebrate. I still feel like it should be Reid and Pelosi’s names on the cake though rather than Obama.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Just Pelosi’s, if you ask me.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Her for sure Jay. But the Senate is so wierd that I can’t be certain that Reid didn’t do his best on this. The Senate is like through the legislative looking glass.Report

              • Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

                Pelosi is fierce.

                I love her work.Report

              • Pelosi is more than fierce. She’s competent, a quality that is exceedingly rare for a politician. I could not understand for the life of me why anyone on the Left thought that she should have been ousted as minority leader for the upcoming Congress, nor why anyone on the Right thought that her ouster would have been in the Dems’ best interests. Her job was never to ensure electoral victories for Democrats; it was to ensure that Democrats won legislative battles in the House. She was and is very, very good at this.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                There was never a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. 60 depended on holding every single vote, and the Democrats don’t have that kind of party discipline.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I thought they did on DADT early on Mike? I can’t imagine being the odd Democrat out right after Obama was inagurated voting no on cloture for the thing.Report

              • Avatar 62across says:

                Franken was the 60th vote.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                There were never 60 Democrats.Report

              • Avatar 62across says:

                I don’t see how you could pull off the “right away with the veto proof majorities” approach and the “very thorough killing of DADT” approach at the same time.

                Seeing how the Republicans are now going to scuttle the new START treaty in part because of the DADT vote (see Lindsey Graham), I would say the Democrats take on the political calculus was dead on.

                So, kudos to whomever you wish to credit with that math. And, of course, jeers to those who voted against this landmark legislation.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                I don’t see how you could pull off the “right away with the veto proof majorities” approach and the “very thorough killing of DADT” approach at the same time.

                Good point. Quite likely you couldn’t have, except that maybe just killing it right away so that it was dead for the remaining 3 1/2 years of Obama’s term (even assuming he lost his re-election bid) would be enough to drive a stake through its heart. But my guess would be that in January ’09, Democrats were more focused on just getting the quick kill, and worry about keeping it dead later. Still, the military study may have turned out to be the best thing in the end.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      vote on DADT took place PRIOR to the midterms where EVERY DEMOCRAT voted for it

      Not precisely true. A cloture vote took place, not a vote on DADT itself. The cloture vote failed. It was obvious it was going to fail, yet the Democrats held the vote anyway. The question is why bring it to a vote when it’s obviously going to fail? Possible reasons include 1) seeking political advantage from appearing to support it when they really didn’t want it to pass; 2) trying to make pre-election statements that show them as the good guys and the Republicans as the bad guys; 3) Harry Reid is an incompetent tool.

      I would expect that Jason leans towards 1), probably with some caveats. I suspect Alli would lean towards 2). I lean toward 3), under the theory of Hanlon’s Razor and my own observations of Reid.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

        Basically this.

        Still, I see I’m prompting the basic, knee-jerk reaction of American politics — criticize one side, for anything, and you must be on the other side. I probably shouldn’t have spoken up at all.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        James, if I could push back a little. I’ve no particular love for Reid but the rationale that was offered on his movements on DADT have become pretty clear; cold blooded but clear.

        He scuttled the military bill because he suspected that the GOP were going to pull a healthcare reform on him and make it eat up the rest of his legislative session with procedural votes and readings on it. My question of the day: did Reid have any idea that Pelosi, Lieberman et all could make a small agile standalone repeal of DADT sail through for a vote or did he think he was sinking DADT hopes for two years?

        Now goodness knows the man is a weasel and it’s an open question as to how much spine he has. But he’s managed to shepherd some significant quantities of legislation through to the President so I get a feeling that he’s a clever sort of weasel.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:


          This was the first time I’ve seen Reid accomplish anything that I found impressive. The Senate dislikes actual leadership, and Reid was selected as party leader precisely because of his lack of leadership skills–he didn’t threaten any Democratic senator’s independence.

          But it appears he deserves credit on this one. I want to find time to look more closely and figure out what his strategy was. I’ve had so little respect for his strategic sense that my Occam’s Razor-sense is screaming that there must be some other explanation than Reid. Yet not only is that clearly an unfair assumption, but he more than anyone controls the Senate’s legislative agenda, so my more temperate Occam’s Razor-sense is saying it must have been him.

          Damned if I want to re-evaluate him more positively, but perhaps I’ll have to suck it up and do so.

          (Quick add-on: I think it was clear to Reid that Pelosi could get it through the House. I think the Senate was the only tough call, and I’m still trying to get a clear understanding of exactly what changed for those crucial Republican senators. Unfortunately I haven’t had time to look at it closely enough yet.)Report

          • Avatar North says:

            James, that sounds fair to me and I’m right there with you scratching my head. I was no fan of Reid’s before this. It’s kindof nice to be able to smile at Leiberman’s name again though.Report

  17. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “It was *YOUR* party that was more shameful!”
    “No! No! It was *YOUR* party that was more shameful!”
    “Let’s just agree that it was the fault of the Libertarians.”

    Yay. Bipartisanship.Report

  18. Avatar Allen Lanning says:


    For me, the result is all.

    Sure a post-mortem could be useful in determining how best to proceed in due course on the last couple of bits of gay equality, if they can be achieved through legislation. But I’ll leave that to you guys. For me, for now, celebration.Report

  19. Avatar BobN says:

    I find it rather remarkable that Mr. Kuznicki would attribute to Democrats the prescience necessary to plan out this supposedly rigged process.

    How clever of them to have figured out ahead of time just how craven the GOP senators would be on this and so many other issues and how wise they were to have foreseen almost a year in advance the Dem drubbing in the mid-terms while everyone else thought the expulsion of the GOP from government was a generational change…Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      Not the entire process, but I am quite confident that they engineered things so that DADT would appear to die before the election, only to be resurrected afterward. If you don’t believe that, you haven’t been paying attention. Here’s a primer.Report

      • Avatar BobN says:

        I believe — correction, I KNOW — that the plan was to allow almost a year from the State of the Union until the vote. How do I know? Because Obama sent me secret signals through the television about how he was going to work with Congress — both parties in Congress — to repeal DADT.

        The entire process was engineered to provide cover for GOP senators (and a few blue-dog Dems). That it didn’t go very smoothly is no surprise, of course, as we Dems were involved.Report

  20. Avatar Mike Farmer says:

    I heard this afternoon that it might take a year to implement this. So, the Democrats have some reservations about the impact. Don’t get me wrong, I would implement it immediately, but those who think this was accomplished without political gamesmanship just don’t understand. The reason I would implement it immediately is because if I had any say so, I’d have our military out of combat so everyone would have time to talk about the changes and adjust, if it’s needed. But combat troops are the ones they are worried about according to the news report.Report

    • Avatar Scott says:


      Great, implement it immediately but the DOD’s lawyers are going to have to answer some other questions that go along with the repeal. Such as:

      Those folks that were kicked out, can they re-join? If they can re-join do they just resume at their former rank/pay pay grade? Those folks that can’t or won’t re-join, how will the DOD recharacterize their discharge? What kind of benefits will the DOD give them based on their years of service? Say a gay service member was married in a state that recognizes gay marriage, will the fed gov recognize that marriage for spousal Tricare benefits (the military health plan).

      There are all sorts of questions that probably need to be answered first.Report

      • Avatar Mike Farmer says:

        Damn, they didn’t work this out before they repealed it?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        As I understand things (which is of course, by no means meant to be authoritative)
        1) Yes
        2) Yes. It is posible that if their break in service is both short enough but caused them to miss a promotion board, they may be retroactively be eligible for that board. It happens sometimes for those that are deployed during the promotion cycle (or two) and are not available to take the tests.
        3) Honorable, but most were administratively separated which is for the most part a ‘neutral’ designation. Appeals for recharacterization if needed to obtain benefits will proably be approved. Likewise, one will almost always have to seek out a re-characterization of service; it will not happen automatically or en masse.
        4) They will receive no credit for the break in service, but will for the most part not be penalized for the break either in terms of promotions and assignments. (there are numerous cases of people who seperate from the miltary for one reason or another, and decide to rejoin some years later, for one reason or another. I anticipate treatment the breaks in service will be similar for the two groups.)
        5) Gay marriage will not be recognized for the provision of benefits due to the defense of marriage act and that military benefits are solely conferred by marriage – domestic partners of whatever orientation (guy-girl, girl-girl, guy-guy, etc) get nothing*. This will become, I imagine, the next fight.

        *you can, however, put whomever you want as benneficiary on the govt subsidized life insurance policies. There are some extreme outliers in getting extended family members defined as ‘dependents’ but they are almost invariablely disabled in some way to the point where they can’t take care of themselves.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Yeah I’ve always felt that one of the reasons the social right fought so furiously over DADT to the bitter end was that they recognize what a pivotal role DADT or a ban on gays in the military played in the overall anti-gay framework of the country.

          Once DADT fades away they’re going to have to deal with gay national heroes, or more accurately national heroes who happen to be gay.

          Also I’m sincerely hoping that the liberal universities don’t act like shit-heads and let the ROTC back onto campuses prompting an (at least minor) increase in the flow of liberals into the officer programs.Report

        • Avatar Scott says:


          I was curious where you got the details from?Report

  21. Avatar jfxgillis says:


    Now that my blood is circulating properly, let me try it again. This:

    the Democrats chose the single moment in all the possible permutations of the election cycle when it would cost them the very least

    is beyond ridiculous. DADT and related gay rights issues have already cost the Democrats an incalcuable amount for over twenty years (almost thirty depending on how you take the subtext of “San Francisco Democrat” which dates to 1984), including, quite possibly, the White House in both 2000 and 2004. To be churlishly dismissive because they didn’t pay a higher price is indefensible.

    As a libertarian, you don’t have to worry about winning elections and/or implementing a policy agenda, and as a think-tanker you don’t have to face the wrath of a confused and ignorant public swmaped in bigoted demagoguery driven by centuries of entrenched attitudes.

    You know, sometimes when I’m talking or corresponding with reasonable conservatives/libertarians/Republicans they’ll wonder why the Republicans get no credit for the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s when they were essential to its passage. There are a few emphemeral reasons (Goldwater’s opposition, for instance) but the enduring reason is simply this: The Republicans didn’t have to suffer a cost for it (as it turns out, they benefited, but I think that was in the end an accident of history).Report