That’s the question of the hour, as evidenced by the dueling press releases filling my inbox.
The Log Cabin Republicans’ version blares: “Senator Reid fails to negotiate in good faith, kills ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal.”
A few seconds later comes a release from People for the American Way that reads: “Senate Republicans block ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal.”
Who’s right? Both of them.
Despite this week’s intense negotiations with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that appeared close to a deal that involved allowing 10 GOP amendments to the Defense authorization bill to secure her support for repeal, Reid introduced the measure knowing it would fail. Why not finalize the deal and proceed to a vote knowing a favorable outcome awaited?
Meanwhile, the Republicans have turned into spoiled children, taking their ball and going home when they don’t get their way. Collins was the only Republican senator to vote for advancing the debate on repeal, which means Republican senators cast their lot with the bigots who seek to perpetuate this law, no matter what the polls say and despite the Pentagon study and support for repeal from the Defense secretary, commander in chief and chair of the Joint Chiefs. They cannot pin this on Reid alone. Their efforts to undermine President Obama at every turn will lead to more service member expulsions, more careers destroyed and a less effective military.
But the Democratic leadership has to take the lion’s share of the blame. Why are we scrambling at the 11th hour to get this done when the Democrats have held overwhelming majorities in both houses for two years? They waited too long to address what too many wrongly assumed would be a slam dunk. The White House, enabled by the Human Rights Campaign, assumed they could satisfy the gays for four years by delivering the hate crimes bill. They were all wrong.
To make matters worse, Pelosi’s stubborn and nonsensical insistence that lawmakers finish with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before even scheduling a hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has ensured that neither of those critical pieces of legislation will pass.
Meanwhile, President Obama tonight issued his own press release. “A minority of Senators were willing to block this important legislation largely because they oppose the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ As Commander in Chief, I have pledged to repeal this discriminatory law…”
He’s been making that pledge since the 2008 campaign. What Obama should have said in that release: “Given the Senate’s inability to get this done, I am issuing a stop-loss order halting discharges under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ until all legal challenges to the law have worked their way through the courts. In addition, my Justice Department will no longer defend this unconstitutional law.”
But Obama won’t go that far. And Reid and the Democrats will only toss the gays enough crumbs to ensure we stay firmly in their back pocket. And the Republicans will continue kowtowing to the most base, prejudiced elements of their party. In the meantime, what we too often forget, is that the livelihoods and careers of brave American service members will continue to be destroyed simply because they are gay or lesbian. That is the cold reality of 2010 America.