Why Obama Deserves Credit for DADT Repeal

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  1. Avatar North
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    says:

    Thank you for your interesting contribution.Report

  2. Avatar BSK
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    says:

    Hi Robert-
    I have a slightly off-topic question that I hope maybe you can shed some light on.  I was recently speaking with a friend who is in the military.  We were talking about the impact of repealing DADT.  He said that now that gays could serve openly, the military was going to be in an interesting position with regards to their non-discrimination policy and how this might bump up against the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA).  He argued that to honor the repeal of this policy and their non-discrimination clause, the military will now need to recognize gay marriages and offer full benefits to same sex partners.  I noted that DoMA seemed like it would prevent this, because it legislated that only marriages between men and women would be recognized at a federal level.  It also opens up the possibility, because of how the military moves people around, that a service member could get legally married in Massachusetts but be stationed in a state that didn’t have or outlawed gay marriage and would suddenly lose this status and possibly recognition by the military.
    Do you have any insight as to how the repeal of DADT is going to bump up against DoMA?  Could this lead to a repeal or overturning of DoMA?

    Thanks!Report

  3. Avatar steve
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    @BSK- Good question. At least in the short run, I would think it presents questions about BAH, which can mean an extra $300-$400 a month.
     
    SteveReport

  4. Avatar Mike Farmer
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    says:

    I’m wondering if it’s not already widely accepted that Obama deserves credit, even if by credit some mean blame. I wonder if Obama wants to take all the credit before seeing how the changes work out? I’m all for it, but I also see the possibility of adjustment problems due to problems of serious and mild homophobia. What will be interesting is how Obama will react if there is major incidence. I don’t expact this, but there is alays the possibility — a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks will be at his throat — will he proudly defend his decision without backtracking and making changes to the policy? I would hope so.Report

    • Avatar RTod in reply to Mike Farmer
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      says:

      “What will be interesting is how Obama will react if there is major incidence. ”

      I heartily second this thought, and add an addendum:  That it will be interesting to see how little an incident has to happen for the media to get ginned up in End-of-Times-Mode.Report

    • Avatar 62across in reply to Mike Farmer
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      I’m having a hard time imagining what kind of incident could occur that could be attributed to DADT repeal without appearing to be a craven stretch.  I don’t doubt there are Monday morning quarterbacks who will look for such a thing and surely the media will abet them, but what do you have in mind?  Are you thinking of an analogous event when the military was desegregated?Report

      • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to 62across
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        I don’t have anything specific in mind, and probably nothing that hasn’t happened before, but even a gay soldier getting beat up would suddenly be the talk of the media. There could be a series of charges of inappropriate conduct made by disgruntled homophobics that get leaked to the press.Report

        • Avatar BSK in reply to Mike Farmer
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          Hopefully, any examples of blatant homophobia will rightfully cast shame on the aggressor and not the victim.  I don’t imagine that would give much ammo to anyone except the true bigots.  The only scenario I could imagine would be two dudes getting it on when they should be on watch, leaving themselves or their fellow soldiers vulnerable to attack.  For some reason, I don’t imagine that to be very likely…Report

        • Avatar Will H. in reply to Mike Farmer
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          says:

          I would expect more prosecutions for fraternization under the UCMJ.
          And I’m still not exactly sure if the article prohibiting homosexuality is intact.
          But I expect, for the most part, the slower it is enacted, the less resistance there will be.
          But I don’t see a spike in friendly fire incidents, or anything like that.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Will H.
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            says:

            A quibble Will H, as I recall the article you’re referring to doesn’t (and never did) prohibit homosexuality but rather prohibits sodomy. It’s a moderate distinction since all homosexual sexual acts are also sodomy but it is important because the term sodomy also covers a huge breadth of heterosexual acts.

            So, if it were actually enforced, probably the entire roster of the military would be found guilty of violating the article. Report

            • Avatar James Hanley in reply to North
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              says:

              North,
              So you’re saying the U.S. military is just a bunch of c**ks***ers?
               
              (Sorry, the joke just writes itself, so I might as well be the ass who publishes it.)Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Mike Farmer
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      says:

      I think it’s almost certain that Obama, SecDef, and the Chiefs have significant implementation concerns, and rightly.  But I also think that, whatever O’s contribution to the outcome, he moved toward it believing it was the right choice.  That said, I also think that, even if the implementation or other concerns made him dubious bout the whole enterprise, and however marginal the contingent in his coalition actually mobilized around this issue, that he also couldn’t have afforded getting in an argument with them on this at this time.  That is because i think that this issue is one that groups across his Left flank, even if they aren;t primarily in the field due to this issue (i.e. progressive groups outside the institutional gay rights movement), nevertheless strongly embrace as a political signifier.  Obama needed to at least satisfy, if not deliver to, the Left on this issue (whatever that meant in terms of mobilizing proximate actors).
       
      I think this reality may be behind some of the reluctance to give Obama credit, and I think it is a legitimate point of disagreement — but on both sides.  I think it is legitimate to tend to want to deny credit to a politician for an outcome if he was forced to seek it by political considerations as opposed to having it as a personal policy goal that is shepherded to realization, but I think that giving some credit to politicians for achievements that they seek as a result of political pressure from within their coalition is also entirely legitimate (indeed I think it is more correct than not).  So I tend not to look at the pressure Obama may have been under to pursue this (or health care for that matter) as a reason to be skeptical about how much credit to give him for it.  On the other hand, that doesn’t settle the matter of finding what different players’s specific contributions were – and I agree with  Prof. Hanley that the matter rests considerably on that question.  Where I think we disagree is in what kind of action that can be, and in how specific the details that need to be shown about it, and about its direct effect on the process, need to be to establish that at least some (considerable) level of credit can be assigned to a given player.
       
       Report

    • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Mike Farmer
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      says:

      I wonder if Obama wants to take all the credit before seeing how the changes work out?
      Obama campaigned on this even after the election, so our media culture allows for nothing less than vociferous support for whatever is considered a political “win”. If Obama tries to walk back the repeal (even on logical grounds) he’ll be deflating the base, vindicating the opposition, and confusing the middle; if he takes full credit for it, he motivates the base and brings some of the middle over to his side. This has certainly been the calculus for stimulus and health-care, both of which were sandwiches with a lot of crap.
      Honest question – when was the last time a politician admitted a mistake in policy (rather than strategy/optics or personal habits)?Report

  5. Avatar James Hanley
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    I want to note that Rob has only partially persuaded me.  While he’s correct that Obama allowed his generals to go to Congress and push the repeal–a point I must acquiesce to, and so revise upward my estimate of the credit Obama deserves–I think he doesn’t give enough credit to Congressional leaders for inviting the generals to give testimony, as they could not do so in the absence of those invitations.
    But despite that disagreement, I want to note that Rob has done what critics in the prior thread did not do–provide specifics.  To simply reiterate that “Obama did too provide leadership” is to make a bald assertion, not to provide specifics that support that assertion.  Rob’s post is how people ought to make their arguments.  And as a consequence of making the argument in that way, he’s caused me to make some revision to my earlier estimate that nobody else managed to do.  For all those inclined to just repeat assertions, Rob provides a model–a model model, if I may–for how to argue more persuasively.
     
    Note to BSK:  I don’t know if Rob is going to bother to visit the blog.  I’ll let him know someone has asked a question, and we’ll see if he stops by.Report

    • Avatar BSK in reply to James Hanley
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      Thanks, James.  I’m not sure if Rob is the best person to ask, but I figured I’d throw it out there.  Of course, anyone who can provide insight would be appreciated.Report

    • Avatar ppnl in reply to James Hanley
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      says:

       
      Well I’m not sure Obama deserves credit because I’m not sure how much of what happened was planned. It may be that it only looks planned in retrospect. What I am sure of is that if Obama had made it a policy priority the republicans could not have allowed him to win.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
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      Just want to say, not with regard to Rob’s points (he can speak for himself if he means to deny due credit to leaders in Congress here), that by seeking to extend credit to Obama, I never meant to deny Congressional leaders their due.  My main motivation in the other thread was precisely to react against a sense that the professor’s arguments tended to either want to look at “credit” here like a game ball that had to be awarded in one place, regardless of shared contributions, or else just in general wanted to single out the President for a denial of credit.  i don’t think anyone arguing in the other thread for credit for the administration was doing so in an attempt to deny Reid, Lieberman, Collins, et al their due – that is unless them getting that due meant putting great emphasis on the administration’s non-role.  That view to me seems predicated on a near-zero-sum view of credit, if not simply a desire for the argument ultimately to be more contentious than it needs to be.  i didn’t see any reason to think that each high-profile player didn’t presumptively deserve some considerable level of credit on this(i.e., for each between, say, 15 and 45 percent of the whole), and it didn’t seem to me that the information was yet available to justify a drastic adjustment of that presumption for any major player in any direction.  It seemed to me that Prof. Hanley was arguing for exactly that, and that’s what I was reacting to.  It is absolutely possible that that is not at all what he meant to be arguing – if he wants to say so, I’ll happily accept it without question.
       
       Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley
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      The only other thing I’d say is that people don’t do into comment threads in general to argue with the specificity level of a blog post or newspaper article.  You can say people would be more persuasive if they did, but in blog comments they rarely do, and that’s just the reality of the setting.  I’d also point out that “show me the evidence” is also not an argument with great specificity.  it’s just a position of advantage that is easy to claim from which it is easily to argue “persuasively,” at least as one sees things from where one sits.  Who’s to say when you should be persuaded?  You are!  As I say above, I think there was ample evidence to presumptively reserve some considerable (again, meaning perhaps at least 15% overall) but undetermined level of credit for this for the administration, especially given that this commentary was going on essentially as events were happening, and our visibility was quite low.  There was really no reason that those arguing for some concession that credit was due needed to be more specific in their arguments than you were being – and you were not being terribly specific yourself (unless you think you were, my recollection is not great at this point).  There was no reason that the presumption of credit for the admin ought to have have started at 0%, needing to be argued up by highly specific evidence from litigants.  That would be an unfair starting concession to your position: rather, it is a view for which you would need to have offered evidence.  Perhaps it would have been instructive to give opening positions on credit with numbers; my point would simply have been that to deny a 15% minimum to the administration would itself have required a great deal more specific visibility into the process than we had.  Discussions like this in comments sections can occur at levels of specificity far from what you are insisting.  Had I led with 15% and you led with zero only to immediately realize that you yourself had no case for that absolute of a position, certainly we could have agreed to a minimum in the range of 5-12% and left it that pending more reporting or investigation (if there is the interest).  There is no reason that participants in a friendly discussion need pretend to have greater visibility into the process overall, or to construct arguments in comments as if writing blog posts of one’s own.
       
      I will say that for someone so new to this blog, you are remarkably comfortable lecturing to readers as if they were your students in a Rhetoric class.  Does it occur to you to change hats before coming here from the classroom or office hours?Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Drew
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        Michael,
        When I write specifically, and someone responds vaguely, and I ask for specifics, and they respond vaguely again, yes I feel comfortable lecturing them. If there was ample evidence of Obama’s leadership role, then it could easily have been presented as evidence, rather than just a continuing vague assertion.
         
        As to your comment about your not meaning to deny congressional leaders any credit, I don’t remember if I took your comments that way or not, but point taken.  I probably overstated my case on not giving Obama credit–after all, he could have sabotaged the process, and didn’t.  I only meant to say I didn’t think he actually played much of a leadership role.Report

        • Avatar Michael Heath in reply to James Hanley
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          says:

          James,
           
          Do you now believe the President played a key role in repeal of DADT or not?
           
          If not, do you think the President’s concession on the top marginal rates was motivated only to get more UI funds instead of also being motivated for Senate Republicans to stop filibustering all legislation in the lame-duck session to get a shot at passing other legislation, such as Start II treaty, the DREAM Act, and the repeal of DADT?  Or do you think he was motivated to reduce obstructionism but only for the Start II treaty?
           
           Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Heath
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            Michael,
            I remain uncertain about how much of a key role Obama played.  I think the question is how active was he in ensuring his generals said the right thing before Congress, and did he take any efforts to get them the invites to testify?  Or was he wholly hands-off, and just acquiesced to the invites and their testimony because objecting would further damage his standing with his base?  As I mentioned in the original thread, there’s a real possibility Obama was cleverly engaging in a “hidden hand” strategy.  I was dubious because I remain unconvinced Obama’s that strategically clever–Rob thinks he did use a hidden hand strategy, even though he also thinks Obama has little strategic sense (he finds this case a surprising exception; I wonder if that conclusion is *too* exceptional).  I remain skeptical, but as  I noted, Rob’s analysis has forced me to revise upward my estimate of the amount of credit Obama deserves.  How much is still unclear to me, but clearly more than I initially gave him.  And I do agree with your point about process–I approve of proper process, too, more than most people I think, who tend to focus mostly on outcome and only object to poor process when it’s the “other” side engaging in it.  But in this case I wondered if the rigorous attention to process was in fact Obama’s method of avoidance.  If that’s evidence that I just have an unfairly low opinion of him, I’ll admit that I tend to have a low opinion of most presidents, and I’ve studied the presidency closely enough to know what an impossible job it is, so that I’m aware my standards for them are probably impossibly high.  It does help me avoid engaging in hero-worship, though.
            As to your latter question, I wish I could give a thoughtful answer, but I don’t know that I can.  I do think you’re probably on the right track in guessing that it was not just about getting UI extended, but about getting that issue out of the way so that hopefully others could get addressed.  But whether he was really thinking it would open up the doors for the other things, I couldn’t really say.  It seems to me that hoping to get multiple issues through a lame-duck session would have been fairly unrealistic (even though it did in fact happen–it’s still unrealistic to expect such rare events).  My seat-of-the-pants guess would be that he had a priority list, and START was at the top, with everything else mere wishful thinking, a “just in case we get phenomenally lucky” list.  And I’m dubious that DADT repeal was actually at the top  of the list, which is not to suggest that he was at all disappointed that it went through.
             
             Report

            • Avatar Michael Heath in reply to James Hanley
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              James,
               
              I read somewhere several days ago that Senate Republicans were sending quietly communicating as early as last summer that the lame-duck would provide opportunities for bills they were obstructing prior to the Nov. election.  From that perspective it wasn’t as surprising as some people think that Dec. saw so many items pass the Senate.
               
              And I as I noted prior, while I too am a lover of process, I can’t unabashedly  grant the president this victory given how high the probability was that DADT would not get repealed in the lame-duck session.  The price was too high in my opinion.  So in spite of my cheering the president on by using the legislative process, I would not have done so for $700 billion of added debt, especially since “victory” resulted in nearly $3 trillion of additional debt.
               
              I would have instead cheered him for trying and then issuing an executive order prior to this months’ SOTU speech.  $700 billion is much too high a price tag.  From this perspective I think his desire to pass Start II in this session came at too high a price where I think he had more going for him in his corner than he thought when it came to the Bush tax cuts and extending UI.  From this perspective I think Sen. Reid and his legislative liaisons in a post-Rahm White House failed him as he spent most of November out of the country or on foreign affairs, causing the president to over-react as the 111th’s last days loomed.
               
              The best result for the country and this President would have been an extension of UI in a match of chicken as Christmas loomed, an expiration of all the Bush tax cuts with the Republicans blamed, an executive order to effectively end DADT, and a fight in the 112th for Start II.  Instead this president extended one of the biggest governing mistakes in the entire last decade, the Bush tax cuts.
               Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Heath
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                Michael,
                An infinite number of cheers to your last paragraph.  I agree completely.  And it’s one of the reasons I remain unpersuaded about Obama’s strategic sensibility. I think he could undoubtedly have gotten UI extended just by painting the Republicans as heartless bastards who were going to deny millions of children a good Christmas by cutting of benefits.  And I think he could get Start II passed in the next Senate, despite a larger number of  Republicans, by lining up all the former Republican exec branch officials who favor it, and shaming the the Senators into it.  Instead he paid a very high price, and exacerbated our on-going problem of unsustainable deficits.
                I’d like to have seen the DREAM Act passed, but probably the conditions weren’t right for it anyway, so if any of his price calculation was in hopes of getting that passed, it would be even more of a miscalculation.Report

              • Avatar 62across in reply to Michael Heath
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                says:

                Michael and James –
                I think the best result for the country would have been ponies – for everyone!
                If you are going to offer up an alternative reality as feasible, then you need to be specific about where the votes were going to come from.  It should be clear at this point, there is no such thing as shaming the current Senate Republican caucus to do anything. If it were possible, you could name an example of it working in the last two years.
                And no amount of effective messaging would have had the expiration of all Bush tax cuts laid at the feet of the Republicans.  You may have noticed that NO ONE is talking about the fact that the tax cuts were designed to sunset.  The “Congress and the WH must act or there will be a tax increase” meme had completely overwhelmed the truth of the matter.Report

              • Avatar Michael Heath in reply to 62across
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                62across stated:<blockquote>It should be clear at this point, there is no such thing as shaming the current Senate Republican caucus to do anything. If it were possible, you could name an example of it working in the last two years.</blockquote>
                 
                Extending UI in Dec. 2009 is the obvious precedent, which was the only item I noted the President should have played chicken on.  Given their obstructionism in general and their promise to obstruct everything until the top marginal rates were extended, I assumed they would hold fast on all those with the exception of UI which would have required some horse-trading.  As I’ve noted earlier but not in this thread, I think it was a strategic mistake by Sen. Reid to not cut spending commiserate with UI which would have brought many Republicans over because that’s what they asked for in return.  The Senate will have to begin with spending reform soon anyway and that deal would have been far cheaper than increasing the debt $700 billion.  So I’m confident the only cost to playing chicken on this item was a commiserate cut in spending.
                 
                62across:<blockquote>You may have noticed that NO ONE is talking about the fact that the tax cuts were designed to sunset.  The “Congress and the WH must act or there will be a tax increase” meme had completely overwhelmed the truth of the matter.</blockquote>
                 
                We must get our news from different sources because that is certainly not my perspective, i.e., my sources continually note the Bush tax cuts were passed using Senate budget reconciliation rules which hid the looming debt in the Bush budgets given the 12/31/10 expiration date.  I think the message failure was instead the failure of Democrats to note that extending the Bush tax cuts for all marginal rates but the top rate still provided the largest nominal tax cuts to the highest earners since they’d still save money through each marginal rate except the top rate. Cite:  http://goo.gl/sGbJ
                 
                I don’t think the Bush tax cuts expiring with no reaction was politically feasible, I instead think it was strategically dumb for Obama to give up so much in return for so little and continue one of the biggest governing failures in the last decade.  What he could have done is taken leadership for cutting marginal rates while also eradicating credits and deductions which he already supports – similar to the Bowles-Simpson proposal.  That would have to take place with this incoming Congress, but it would have put heat on the Republicans to get a signable bill in front of the President relatively quickly given the Clinton-era tax cuts would have caused cuts in people’s take-home pay as the Bush tax cuts expired.
                 
                 Report

              • Avatar 62across in reply to Michael Heath
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                Michael –
                I’ll grant that UI extension could have been possible (I’d forgotten about the 2009 UI fight), but you are more sanguine than I about the incoming Congress as far as an expedient separate bill that would have restored the Bush rates for all but the top bracket, especially partnered with eliminating credits and deductions which have fans on both sides of the aisle.
                I don’t disagree with you on your scenario being the optimal outcome – the Bush tax cuts were a governing failure and the mistake has been perpetuated. I just don’t see where you would get the votes for cloture under your proposal, so I don’t see how the strategy Obama followed can be declared “dumb”.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to 62across
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                says:

                True, ponies would have been nice. Could I have Sparkleberry?Report

              • Avatar Michael Heath in reply to 62across
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                says:

                62across:<blockquote>you are more sanguine than I about the incoming Congress as far as an expedient separate bill that would have restored the Bush rates for all but the top bracket, especially partnered with eliminating credits and deductions which have fans on both sides of the aisle.</blockquote>
                 
                I never claimed the Bush rates could come back under a GOP/Obama tax plan.  In fact I precisely noted that all rates would have to be cut though combined with cuts in credits and deductions similar to Bowles/Simpson’s proposal and spending cuts.
                 
                My whole point was that Obama would have been prudent to let the Bush tax cuts die.  Anything in response would be new and therefore his and the 112th GOP rather than Bush’s.  He can not achieve the higher effective taxation rate results we had under Clinton that led to surpluses given the 112th Republicans pledge on taxes combined with the political reality that the Reagan/W. Bush/Obama tax cuts have made it politically impossible to increase effective rates on the bottom two possibly three quintiles.  However the President would have had enormous leverage to reduce future debt with a combination of an increase in effective tax rates on the top three quintiles by cutting marginal rates and credits/deductions relative to the Bush era but only when combined with spending cuts.
                 
                James – why don’t blockquotes work?  What HTML tags should we use instead?
                 Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to 62across
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                I have no idea why your html code is showing up as plain text. That’s just plain weird. Perhaps you’re a vampire or something. You know, do you see yourself when you look in the mirror? Does your html code appear as plain text? I’m sure that’s the explanation.Report

              • Avatar 62across in reply to Michael Heath
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                says:

                If you’re going to dream, dream big – so yes!!Report

  6. Avatar Michael Drew
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    says:

    Professor Hanley – Many thanks for the follow-up!  And Mr. Harbaugh – Very interesting thoughts.  If anything they assign more credit to the administration than I intended to be arguing for in the open thread.  But I think you make a good case.
    Happy New Year!Report

  7. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    Bruce Bochy doesn’t deserve any credit for the World Series victory either.Report

  8. Avatar Michael Heath
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    I think and have argued now for several months that the President’s contribution to repeal was fealty to process which helped remove a couple of possible opposition arguments.   This love of process was something I picked up on during the ’08 campaign that helped me jump on board that summer.  Specifically in this case by taking the legislative route but not providing Congress with much of an argument to defend repeal by doing a narrowly framed to a fault study and then shoving the study along with Gates and McDonnell into the face of the Senate.  Still, having the results of the survey and the vote deep into a lame-duck doesn’t validate this approach was right in spite of my support of it, it could just as easily never gotten a vote in December and never seen the light of day in the next Congress.  From this perspective the President could have discarded with process and issued an Executive order with little likelihood a subsequent conservative President or Congress would supplant it.
    So while I agree the President’s support was a key factor, it would have been nice to see Mr. Harbaugh address the Senate beyond its members en masse and Sen. Reid specifically; especially Senators Levin and Lieberman’s efforts who seemed as key Obama’s.
    What I found interesting regarding Mr. Harbaugh’s analysis was the lack of perspective that repeal was the right thing or not to do.  IMO his analysis was all about politics and not policy.  Having watched part of the Committee hearings I got the sense that the Senate collectively knew* that repealing DADT was smart policy and the timeliness neither helped the President much, allowing some GOP support, nor harmed the GOP, even with the bigoted portion of its base.  From this perspective smart policy passed only because the politics happened to be convenient for the GOP to not obstruct the President and after they got what they wanted, a continuation of the top marginal income tax rate without having to mitigate its impact on the national debt.
     
    *With some exceptions; e.g., Sen. Inhofe maintains his delusions and Sen. McCain’s bitterness appears so strong he’s lost his rational faculties.  Sen McCain needs some counsel from Sen. Kerry on how to act with character after losing a bid for the Presidency, the difference in behavior between these two is striking in spite of the fact Sen. McCain destroyed the slim chance he had with no help from Mister Obama.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Michael Heath
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      Michael,
      Regarding Rob’s focus, I have to take the blame for that.  I steered the discussion he and I had toward the process aspect, and that’s what I asked him to write about.  I know where he stands on a number of policy issues, so I have guesses about how he views this in terms of policy, but I don’t for certain so I won’t speak for him.  But the decision not to address that is a consequence of what I asked him to write.
      I do think you’re right that a majority of Congress viewed this as the “right” policy action. I’d even guess that a few of those who voted against it thought it was right, and were happy to see it pass, and particularly happy to see it pass with enough votes that they didn’t have to risk offending their constituents by voting for it.  McCain, though…I wish he had chosen to retire with grace.  I find it personally saddening to watch his strange decline.  I recently breezed through Megan McCain’s account of the election, and came away liking the family more.  The John McCain we see today is not the same man you see in that book, nor the same man we saw a decade ago.  He’s George Wallace in reverse.Report

  9. Avatar J. Peron
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    says:

    I am left unconvinced. The argument seemed to be that all these other factors couldn’t be enough therefore Obama was the reason. Obama did no lobbying. That his military advisers were already on record in support pretty much meant they would continue to take their stand. And Congressman wanting to see repeal are obviously going to ask them to testify. Obama was not in a position to tell them not to testify, that would have been an utter disaster for him had he done so.

    So their testimony says nothing about Obama per se. Had Obama done any lobbying with Congress there might be some validity to him playing a role. But this was a measure with widespread popular support and yet he managed to create a series of hurdles that seemed designed to prevent passage, not facilitate it. And, I should note, that the repeal has not yet taken effect because all the hurdles have yet to be jumped.

    Here is why I would give credit to members of Congress. First, they kept the measure alive, not Obama. They knew that a very motivated minority (gay people and their friends) were very strongly in favor of the bill. They knew that a small minority of fundamentalists hated anything that implies gays are not evil spawns of Satan. That might make it a wash politically. But they also knew that 2/3rds of the public thought DADT should be repealed. That meant that it was very safe to repeal DADT and very beneficial. It got those congressmen a lot of support from the gay community, didn’t lose them any support with the majority of voters and only alienated them from Christian fascists — who would never vote for them anyway.

    Congressmembers had little to lose in supporting the bill. The only ones who could lose would be Republicans facing the Christian Right that has the GOP by the balls. And they almost unanimously voted to keep legal discrimination in place.Report

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