The inability to move forward on repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is an embarrassment for the majority leader of the U.S. Senate. It is in his power to control when the Senate is in session and he has determined that the rights of millions of members of the LGBT community are less important than his getting home early for the holidays.
The millions of Americans who are lucky enough to be working in this economy will be working until Christmas Eve and most of them will be back at work on Monday, Dec. 27. But not the U.S. Senate! They will be going home on Dec. 17 whether or not they get the work of the nation done. The nation be damned — he wants to start his vacation.
President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi should demand that Congress stay in session until the work is done. If it takes four days of debate to get the 2011 Defense authorization bill passed then take the four days.
The time has come to call Democrats to account for their inability to get this done. We are now looking at Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. Susan Collins(R-Maine) introducing a standalone bill, which has the potential to get the votes needed to pass in the Senate. Then it would be up to the House Democrats to get it done there. That would be the height of embarrassment to Democrats if it doesn’t happen.
This possible defeat of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has to be laid at the door of the Democrats in Congress and the president who waited until the last moment to get involved. Clearly he misread the Congress as he has done on a number of other issues and it should be a clear signal that his congressional liaison office needs to be revamped. A good reading of the Congress and what will be happening there will be even more crucial in the next two years if he is to have any chance of getting something done and getting reelected.
Will Rogers said, “I am not a member of any organized political party, I am a Democrat.” Well, the leaders of the Democratic Party are proving him right. And the rights of millions of Americans, not only the LGBT community, are hanging in the balance and they are suffering.
It is too easy as some are doing to lay the blame entirely on the Republican Party. What the Democrats have done is to hand the Congress to them by not having a clear and concise message to offer to the American people.
It isn’t time to abandon the party. But what we have done is give the Republicans a major opportunity to claim credit for many things that should have gotten done this year if they manage to do them in the next two years. I have never wanted to put my life in the hands of Republicans but since it will be there in the next two years I will hope that they actually take advantage of the opportunity they have been given. If they move away from fighting social issues and concentrate on the budget and the deficit they could actually win again in 2012. If they backtrack and try to reverse the things that Democrats have done they will show themselves to be the regressive party we have all called them.
But right now I am laying the blame for losing the vote on the bill containing the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on the Democrats. They will have to prove in some way that I am wrong. I hope they begin to do that work tonight.