Greg Sargent on Harry Reid and DADT:’ How did Reid do it?’

Posted on 21 Dec 2010 at 3:44pm

Greg has a really interesting post on the role Harry Reid played in the effort to end DADT. Yesterday, he wrote a post titled, “Harry Reid earns his place in history”:

It’s worth stepping back and pondering how dramatic the reversal in Reid’s fortunes has been in the past six months. Last summer, his reelection campaign was in so much trouble that people were openly speculating about who would succeed him as Majority Leader. Six months later, he has not only been reelected after presiding over one of the most productive Congresses in decades, but he’s also earned himself a place in the history books for notching an accomplishment that rivals the great civil rights bills of the past.

How did Reid do it? Advocates for gay equality hammered Reid relentlessly throughout this process, erupting in anger each time he refused to state definitively that a DADT vote would happen or refused to clarify precisely when such a vote would happen. Advocates worried that Reid was going to let the session pass without a DADT vote at the behest of the White House, which was prioritizing New START above all else.

But Reid’s approach paid off, and here’s how. Recall what happened before the vote on the defense authorization bill containing DADT repeal was blocked by the GOP. Reid made a whole range of concessions to GOP moderates, bringing them to the brink of casting a Yes vote. When it became clear that Susan Collins’s procedural demands risked throwing the lame-duck session into chaos, Reid’s decision to fast-track the vote — even though vote counters knew it would not pass if he did — was roundly criticized.

In retrospect, it turns out Reid’s gamble worked.

Yes, it did.

And, I have to give Greg a shout out here, too. He was all over the DADT story — and kept it alive when some thought it was dead. So many times, Greg would uncover some new detail that put the spotlight back on the issue. I know he’s a reporter, not an advocate. But, what Greg wrote, mattered. He played a key role in this historic effort, too.




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