December 7, 2010 at 5:51 pm EDT | by Kevin Naff
Democrats’ last chance for redemption

The Democrats’ sloppy and so far inadequate attempts at repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” have led to all sorts of dramatic commentary: Repeal is dead! Obama is finished! He won’t run for re-election!

Repeal may or may not be dead, but let’s at least allow Sen. Harry Reid and the rest of the Senate to finish the lame duck session before making such dire pronouncements. Reid on Monday reiterated on the Senate floor his intent to push repeal during the lame duck; the administration must by now understand it needs to deliver a high-profile victory to its progressive base. The votes are there, all that’s needed is enough time to debate the full defense spending bill. So Reid and President Obama should demand that the Senate stay in session until their work is done.

Watching this process unfold over the past few months hasn’t exactly inspired confidence in the Democrats’ strategic prowess. Say what you want about George W. Bush, but if he’d wanted to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and had Republican majorities in Congress, he would have just bloody done it.

Contrast that with Obama’s foolish, naïve inclination to seek common ground and friendship with everyone and you can’t help but wish the Democrats had their own decider-in-chief right now.

The Republicans have been clear from the very beginning of this presidency that they care about one thing: ensuring Obama is a one-term president. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell admitted it in an October interview. Achieving that goal supersedes all else, including salvaging the economy. But Obama keeps giving the GOP the benefit of the doubt.

Consider that a day after the much-hyped White House meeting with the new GOP House leaders that was supposed to signal a new era of cooperation between the parties, McConnell announced that all 42 Republican senators would oppose any legislation unrelated to tax cuts.

What will it take for Obama to understand that all the campaign rhetoric about changing the tone in Washington is just that — rhetoric? It’s a hopeless task, at least as long as McConnell and his ilk are in charge.

The result of waiting around for Republicans to play nice is squandered opportunities and a laundry list of priorities that are now frozen for at least two year. Let’s hope “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” isn’t on that list, but the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Uniting American Families Act and Defense of Marriage Act repeal certainly are on it.

There is much blame to go around for the sorry results delivered by this Congress: Obama for failing to lead and lobby lawmakers; our national advocacy organizations for the failed and now totally discredited strategy of aligning exclusively with Democrats; our supposed allies in Congress who continually demanded we wait for change rather than deliver on their promises. The fat lady has yet to sing in this Congress, so it’s premature to start calling for mass resignations within the LGBT movement leadership.

But if Congress doesn’t repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this month, then LGBT people across the country have a right to an explanation: How did the Democrats manage two years of wide majorities (remember they had those elusive 60 votes until Sen. Kennedy died) without repealing the gay ban or even holding hearings on ENDA?

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

  • But unless my hearing is off, the “Fat Lady” is indeed doing her vocal warmups.

    Obama is defending his deal with Republicans on Tax Cuts, adding that he has been described as having “not worked across the isle anough” – foolishly allowing the Repubs to define His conduct, rather than Him defining Theirs, as Pure Obstructionists.

    Obama takes credit for “making the deal” on Taxes, but then points toward Congress when there is lesser hope on DADT Repeal. Huh!

    He is weak.

    He is not, however, the main body passing Lesgislation; the Congress is, and having had DADT Repeal to have passed the House, the Senate is the holdup.

    Also, having a Tax deal struck in a mere 24 hours, we should NOT therefore accept that there is “not enough time” to pass DADT Repeal. There is just not enough Political Will. The rights of Minorities should not rest upon whether Politicians can get re-elected by the Majorities or not, in the United States.

    If Repeal does not pass, then it shall be the time to End All Lobbying Efforts/donations/contributions, and to Redirect those Contributions toward our Real Advocates in their Litigation Efforts such as the ACLU, Lambda Legal, etc. as Rights shall then clearly only be gained via the Court Systems. Time will be up! The message will have been sent , and clearly heard: “Gays have no political voice!”.

    Make SURE Senators know that we will remember them at election time:

    Email your Senators Daily until Repeal passes

    Email Congress:

    Email The Whitehouse

    Call the Senate and Congress: (202)224-3121
    *The Operator will direct you if you do not know your representative

    *IMPORTANT* Be polite and to the point.

  • I have heard one good idea. Someone who can get to the President should suggest it. If he has the guts to play hardball with the Repugnicans as they have with him. Either they pass the defense authorization bill with DADT repeal included in the lame duck session or he will drop the appeal to the case going before the appellate court and DADT will be dead.

  • Kevin’s analysis is entirely right. When the Democrats have power we see how weak and wimpy they govern. When they are voted out they look like they find some gumption. Gays and lesbians received DADT (a “compromise”) from DEMOCRAT Bill Clinton, after sending out campaign videos (remember those?) created for gay campaign house parties. In the video, candidate Clinton promised to sign an executive order ending the whole “conduct unbecoming” blade hanging over gay and lesbian service people. DADT was worse than status quo. When we don’t fight for our rights how can we expect anyone else to take us seriously? Things are improving in society, but the Democrats are not leading, just following reluctantly along. Give thanks to young militants like Lt. Dan Choi for standing on principle, or the older David Mixner, who broke with his friends Mr. and Mrs. Clinton. These are leaders. Democrats are wimps. BTW: I am a registered Democrat. I wrote my Senators, the White House, and others, this week, friend and foe.

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