Obama says he wants to repeal DADT during his 2008 campaign. He instructs his Pentagon to review DADT with an eye on enacting repeal of it by the end of 2010. He invites congresspeople to the White House from his party to build a compromise and legislative strategy to repeal DADT after the military finishes a year long review (to end in December 2010) and prior to all this he deals with a huge economic crash, passage of health care reform, passing financial reform, establishing strategy for two wars and resetting diplomacy for the future of the country.
Meanwhile, yes, it sucks because honorable soldiers are being dismissed from the military due to this discriminatory policy. Some to the left of Obama suggested Obama simply doesn’t give a damn about DADT repeal and others demand he act more like how they perceived George W. Bush , rule by bullying and Executive Orders. Their claim is if Obama was the more like the fake cowboy, he could put a stop to DADT and do whatever the hell else he wants to . In reality Bush had the help of “centrist” Senate and House Democrats at every turn (and failed when he tried to win some issues like carnivore prior to 9/11 and Immigration Reform post 9/11). These give absolutely no thought to the fact that a DADT Executive Order repeal would inevitably create a volatile political situation where hypocritical Tea Baggers/Libertarians (like Rand and Ron Paul), idiots in the main stream media and the GOP would begin raising hell about Obama abusing power to ghey up the military. All this noise could inevitably spook enough senate and house Democrats and could result in DADT repeal law not ever passing and an executive order to end DADT being rendered impotent by a politically careful caucus who could underfund the mandate. (Don’t believe me? Tell me when they closed Guantanamo Bay in 2009 or tried KSM in Federal Court) .
The cynical why is DADT repeal an Obama priority in May 2010 after all this time? questions ignore the reason why proponents of immediate executive order DADT repeal are upset with the Obama Administration in the first place: the strategy to enact DADT repeal by passing a law and then implementing the policy within the Pentagon bureaucracy after a thorough review was announced earlier in Obama’s first term. See Robert Gates interview with Fox News Sunday in 2009:
WALLACE: In January, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs gave a one-word answer, “yes,” when asked if this president is going to end the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” for gays in the military.
Where does that stand? And why is there currently money in the 2010 budget to keep enforcing that policy?
GATES: Well, it continues to be the law. And any change in the policy would require a change in the law. We will follow the law, whatever it is.
That dialogue, though, has really not progressed very far at this point in the administration. I think the president and I feel like we’ve got a lot on our plates right now, and let’s push that one down the road a little bit.
and reiterated in Obama’s State of The Union address:
In his State of the Union address on Jan. 27, 2010, Obama said, “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.”
Six days later, Obama’s top Pentagon officials offered the Senate Armed Services Committee details on how Obama’s pledge will be carried out.
“The question before us is not whether the military prepares to make this change, but how we best prepare for it,” said Gates. “We have received our orders from the commander in chief and we are moving out accordingly.”
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Michael Mullen, speaking “for myself and myself only,” added that he is in favor of “allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly” in the armed forces.[…]
Gates and Mullen cautioned that the switch would not be immediate. Not only does Congress need to change the current law, but the Pentagon will first carry out a detailed “implementation plan” led by Pentagon legal counsel Jeh Johnson and Gen. Carter Ham, who commands the United States Army in Europe. It’s likely to take months for the Pentagon to complete its plan.
In the shorter term, Gates said that the Pentagon would move toward enforcing the current policy “in a fairer manner.” Gates established a timeline of 45 days for those changes.
I think Obama chose to stabilize the economy, change war strategy, pass health care, establish an international diplomatic agenda and enact wall street reform before tackling DADT, and rightly so. DADT repeal has wide public support and congressional support. He chose to do the harder things first. In general, I think that this makes sense as a framework for legislative strategy. It’s a cold triage of priorities that is of no comfort for the soldiers who have been disgraced, the currently enlisted who still fear expulsion due to their sexual orientation, Americans who understand DADT makes our government discriminate against law abiding citizens, and those who understand removing capable soldiers from duty diminishes our national security infrastructure.
If the unfair DADT policy is outlawed by congress and signed into law by the President it will be a true repair to our democracy. Anything just ordered away by the Commander in Chief is just a temporary patch.