Behind the Curve…or Exactly Where He Should Be?

I got into a mild tangle over Obama and his underwhelming (to date) efforts on improving gay rights in the comment section of a Balloon Juice thread that was about the sheer idiocy of Mike Pence. While I recommend that you read the thread to find out about Pence, I think I stumbled across something that I hadn’t given much thought to before.

As I said in the comment, Obama always seems to be just on the verge of being swallowed by events before he comes out and rights the ship (see the race speech in Philadelphia from the campaign or the very measured remarks delivered this week about the disputed election in Iran). I think this is Obama’s wheel house; he has to be lead, or give the impression of being lead, to a conclusion that, once reached, will have always seemed obvious and perhaps preordained.

Consider the various LGBT issues on the agenda right now. As best as I can tell, the the big ticket items are: repealing DOMA, repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT) and extending equal benefits to same sex partners. My best guess is that there will be little movement on the first and a lot of movement on the second and third. Though he’s still quite popular with the public, not even Obama has enough juice to really push through a repeal of DOMA. The issue is still too politically charged. Yes, the DOJ went too far in defending DOMA in court last week, but I don’t think that’s enough reason to write Obama off. It does give his LGBT supporters a right to yell a little louder and to push their POV more forcefully, though, and I think they’re doing just that. However, just think about how many states have realized same sex marriage rights since Obama has taken office. Things are happening, slowly but surely on the front…which brings me to DADT.

People are kidding themselves if they think Obama doesn’t know about the various polls showing majority support for the repeal of DADT. Nobody can accuse this White House of being caught unaware of the news cycle. They know. So what should the administration do? Well, they’ll take stock of the polls, they’ll let GOP congressmen start to voice support of a review of the policy, they’ll let military leaders (former) voice their support and they’ll let military leaders (current) signal their tacit approval, all while appointing a (conservative) Army secretary who also approves of overturning the ban. This is what’s usually called getting your ducks in a row. Obama is trying to make this as bulletproof as possible; he’s not going to be able to be hit from the right and he already knows he’s got the left in check.

Once’s he ready, which I think will be sooner rather than later (especially given the resources we’re about to poor into Afghanistan), he’s get Congress to start the review (and I would certainly bet that he ropes John McCain into helping push it through). It will get signed and everyone will be happy, not because it was done on a time line that pleased people, but rather that it got done at all. It’s been almost 20 years since DADT was enacted and I daresay that the repeal of DADT, combined with the recent extension of some partner benefits to gay and lesbian federal employees, will further erode opposition to the dread “gay agenda”, which is really just a push for equality, which is of course the kind of change that you can believe in.

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~ by uvasig on June 18, 2009.

4 Responses to “Behind the Curve…or Exactly Where He Should Be?”

  1. That sounds like a likely prediction of how DADT will be addressed. Have to say this DOMA court brief controversy was puzzling — had to wonder if some leftover Bush-appointed Liberty University Law School grad was responsible for throwing in the comparisons to incestuous marriages — if Eric Holder signed off on that shit, I seriously question his judgment. Have to say Obama didn’t look pleased during the ceremony when he extended benefits to some same-sex partners of govt employees. He looked like a guy who was doing something only because he’d been berated into it.

  2. Jim,
    Yeah, I really don’t know what to make of all of this. I want to believe that Obama really does have some concrete and comprehensive plans to move on LGBT issues, but the tone deafness of the DOMA brief and the general foot dragging give me reason for pause. I think everyone (including Obama) knows that the extension of benefits, while nice, was really just a “please back up off me” gesture.

  3. […] Sometimes, I Get it Right Kevin Drum today making some of the same points I did earlier this week about how Obama will most likely deal with DOMA and DADT. […]

  4. […] I’ve said much the same thing before. It’s great that Powell and other retired generals are coming out in support of a repeal of DADT, but they’re retired general. The military is among the most old school and conservative institutions in this country. The current brass seems to be waffling on what it plans to do, while Congress tries to pressure the White House into suspending and repealing the policy. Critics of Obama say that he should issue an executive order to stop gay servicemembers from being discharged while also drawing up a legislative plan for Congress to follow. […]

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