Still Punting To Congress

Can't walk and chew gum, apparently:

In today's press briefing, David Corn of Mother Jones asked White House spokesman Robert Gibbs about the report and whether the Obama administration thinks this is "the way to go." Gibbs largely dismissed CAP's recommendations, saying that the White House is not interested in signing an executive order to temporarily halt DADT:

GIBBS: Well, the President has had meetings about this, has talked with members of Congress. His staff has talked with members of Congress. All of them have talked to Pentagon officials and the administration believes that this requires a durable, legislative solution, and is pursing that in Congress.

Q: I understand that for the long-term solution, but what do you take issue with about signing an executive order that will suspend the separations before an endurable solution is reached through the slow legislative process?

GIBBS: I mean, I think there could be differences on strategy. I think our belief is that the only and best way to do this is through a durable, comprehensive legislative process.

Joe says:

There's that damn "durable" language. He's also used the word "sustainable." This White House could just come up with a practical plan that would stop destoying the lives of service men and women.

It's bizarre how obstinate the Obama administration is on DADT.

This is not a difference in strategy. It's a difference of priority.

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A Durable Comprehensive Legislative Solution

I realize that I am in the minority on this issue but I firmly believe that primary hold up in the repeal of DADT remains concerns among senior military officials about command and control issues. The US armed forces has become increasingly evangelical. This, in a nutshell, is the problem. Timely because today Al Jazeera's Fault Lines programme looks at the growing power of Christain evangelical ideology in the US military. It is, as Chris Hedges notes, a fusion of Christian evangelical ideology with an ultra-nationalist ideology that is "a toxic and dangerous mix".

The United States is a deeply religious country, over 90% believe in god and 80% believe in miracles. For the US military, dealing with its own religious identity has become an internal battle. Growing evidence points towards a rising influence of evangelical Christianity, and with two wars still raging in Muslim countries with significant religious overtones, there could be serious consequences for the US mission. Pentagon officials say incidents are isolated, aberrations occur, but others closely tied to the military and its religious leadership say a transformation is taking place with dire costs. On this week's episode of Fault Lines, Al Jazeera looks at the battle over the religious soul of the US military.

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Hypocrisy You Can Believe In UPDATED

Updated at 10:00am by Psychodrew

At the end of the post, I've added a letter to President Obama written by Michael Keegan, President of People for the American Way. He makes the case much better than I do.

Original Post

Last month, when White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was asked if the president would intervene to stop gay soldiers from being kicked out of the military, Gibbs said "no."

"To get fundamental reform in this instance requires a legislative vehicle," Gibbs said. "The president made a promise to change this policy; he will work with the Joints Chiefs of Staff, the administration and with Congress to ensure that we have a policy that works for our national interests."

Noted a reporter at the briefing: "He is the Commander-in-Chief. I mean, if the president and the Secretary of Defense can bring about a new leadership in Afghanistan, replace the commanding general there, couldn't the president and the secretary of defense delay any more people getting fired under 'don't ask, don't tell'?"

Responded Gibbs: "Well, there have been discussions about the best way to move forward, and the only sustainable way to do that is through -- sustainable and durable way -- is through legislation, which the president has promised and has continued to work for."

Okay, fair enough.  The executive branch is going to enforce all of the laws of the land, even the bad ones.

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Shalikashvili: Listen to Evidence on Gay Soldiers

During the neo-conservative ascendancy, the effects of which we are still struggling to shake off, we were consistently confronted by its apostles with appeals to "empiricism,""facts,""objectivity," and "reality." It was a temporarily successful strategy, until more and more Americans began to see through this polemic and face the failures wrought by these invocations of spurious evidence.  This past April, in response to indications that President Obama would seek repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell "compromise," four retired flag officers argued in the Washington Post that this repeal would harm morale and troop levels in the US Armed Forces ( tent/article/2009/04/14/AR2009041402704. html).  Yet once again a conservative position has been presented with fear-mongering masquerading as fact.  In today's edition of the same paper, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili answers the call.  Not only does refute them by pointing out their lack of evidence for this position, he suggests two responsible courses of action: that we look at other western military organizations where gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly, and that we actually listen to gay soldiers and those who have served with them.

excerpts after the jump...  

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Federal Benefits Won't Cut The Mustard

Today at 5:45pm (after any chance of making the news) Obama will sign a presidential memo extending employment benefits to the same-sex partners of federal workers. Sort of. Health care won't really be included, because of the restrictions of DOMA.

The move is obviously reactive. Joe Sudbay is on point again:

Somehow, despite all the progress and the massive shift in public opinion on gay issues since the early 90s, at the White House, the conventional wisdom on gay-related issues has been dialed back to 1993. The very top staffers at the White House have either fomented that perception or let it fester. There's a part of me that feels like this was a very cynical political ploy -- almost as if they want to have the gay community upset with them. It has been one thing after another and we're always told how smart everyone at the White House is. So, it really feels deliberate. They only decided it was a problem when the gay ATM started to shut down.

This is part of a bigger problem with progressive causes and the professional Democrats in DC. During campaigns, they want our money, our support, our blog posts, but once they win, we're not needed. Even worse, they view us as a problem. Many of them forget that they have their tax-payer financed jobs and benefits because of the work so many of us did. That has to stop. Democrats need to remember who their friends are even after they are elected and stop kissing the butts of those who work to defeat them.

Some will complain that gay activists are jumping the gun - that Obama's first priority is fixing the economy. They'll say that attempts to pull-down the DNC's gay fundraiser aren't productive and only hurt the notion of Democratic unity.

But the gay community didn't choose the game, the White House did. As Sudbay says - the Democratic establishment certainly wanted gay support (and money!) during the election. But after November, cynicism kicked in. The administration knows that politically the gay community has no where to go, so the WH moves only when pushed.

So here comes pushing.

I don't think is is over. A presidential order for (limited) federal employee benefits is welcome - but also hints that Obama still might underestimate the trouble brewing in the gay community.

Update [2009-6-17 12:5:54 by Josh Orton]: Markos adds a good point:

But let's remember, gay anger isn't stemming from administration inaction (though that's fueling it). It stems from action -- the submission of this hateful brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act (which, by the way, totally failed to protect Sen. Jon Ensign's marriage). That anger is well justified.

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