Jim Burroway: Harry Reid set up DADT for failure

Posted on 22 Sep 2010 at 7:44am

Over at Box Turtle Bulletin, Jim Burroway has little patience for those trying to place the blame solely on Republican obstructionism for the failure on Tuesday to move DADT repeal forward.

He points a good deal of the blame in the direction of Sen. Harry Reid, portrayed as the master of stagecraft (at our expense) in Jim’s post, “The DADT Repeal Repertory Theater.”

In the days leading up to today’s vote, Reid announced that he would allow a vote on only three amendments to the appropriations bill. One proposed amendment, which would have removed the DADT repeal language from the bill, would almost certainly not have garnered the sixty votes needed pass muster. A second proposed amendment, which would have provided a pathway to citizenship for immigrants who served in the U.S. military or who graduate from college, also likely would have failed due to Republican opposition and discomfort among some Democrats. A third proposed amendment would have placed limits on Senators being able to place holds on nominations.

Those were the only amendments that Reid would allow to come up for a vote, all of which were chosen by Reid for the political advantage they would give the Democrats in tough mid-term election campaigns. His gamble wasn’t really a gamble at all. In fact, his gambit was a win-win for Democrats, at least in how they see their strategy unfolding. If Republicans upheld the filibuster, then Reid could go home and say that it was the Republicans who blocked DADT’s repeal and immigration reform. If the Dems had prevailed on the filibuster, then Reid would have been able to get the Republican caucus on record on these two issues ahead of the November elections. Either way, what Reid actually sought to accomplish was political gamesmanship, not Senatorial statesmanship.

…So if Reid had the votes to break the filibuster but squandered them in this procedural maneuver, why did he do this? The answer is simple. This was never a serious attempt to pass legislation in the best interests of the American people. It was nothing but political theater, and everyone on both sides were eager actors in the drama. All the Senators had a role to play, and everyone played to the audience. Even the White House was given a bit part. They issued a statement calling for an end to the filibuster, but according to SLDN’s Trevor Thomas, there was no lobbying behind the scenes.

…And what role do we in the gay community play? It’s the same role we always play. We’re the interesting and colorful plotline. It’s not much of a speaking part, but the dance moves are fabulous. And why should it be otherwise? It’s a role we’ve played so well over the years that it’s just expected of us. And we are happy to oblige. This time, we even have Lady Gaga making a guest appearance.

The bottom line is that 7 million Lady Gaga fans on their cell phones dialing the Hill couldn’t move any of the players on stage; the majority leader was making the moves, Jim’s conclusion is that the fix was in.

In this scenario, how does that make you feel? There certainly was enough ego-laden on-the-record and off-the record things going on that support the notion that the stagecraft was designed to play us. The Republicans were always in the obstructionist mode – what else should we expect? Why make it easier? Reid made it easy for them to do excel “on stage” in Jim’s thesis.
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