Good point from Howard Dean in the last graf of this excerpt, below. What about DADT? Why wasn’t it included int his tax cut deal? The GOP got their top priority, why didn’t we include more of our priorities in this deal? I think it’s going to be very difficult to get anything else passed in the Senate, now that the GOP has already been given what they want. Once you trade away your biggest chit, you’re kind of SOL.
Obama’s decision to craft a deal with Republicans on the Bush tax cuts … has created deep reservoirs of distrust with the president’s ability to handle high-stakes negotiations and has compelled even former staffers to level blunt criticisms about the White House’s politics. “I think the president made a huge mistake in supporting any extension of tax cuts,” said Steve Hildebrand, the deputy national director of Obama’s presidential campaign and a strategist who has long grown sour on Washington. “We can’t afford it as a country, and we should recognize that. We need his leadership and bipartisan congressional leadership on it. And the whole idea of negotiating with Republicans who won’t negotiate in good faith, it is not the direction the president should be taking.” [...]
“We clearly have to deal with the deficit; it is probably the biggest problem facing the country,” said former DNC header Howard Dean. “But you can’t deal with the deficit from a political point of view if you say to Democrats, we are going to cut Social Security and Medicare and, by the way, give tax cuts to those who make a million dollars a year.”
Antipathy, however, was saved as much for the process of securing the final tax cut package as for the substance of the package itself. Suggesting that the deal could die in the House, Dean echoed a question other Democrats offered in the hours after Obama’s announcement: Was enough secured in return?
“I’m not so sure you can get the House to agree to this in conference committee,” he said. “And what about the president’s other priorities: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, START, DREAM Act? I mean, do we not get anything for the 0 billion?”
Senators Renew Call To Repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Lieberman, Udall, Gillibrand Urge Colleagues To Pass Defense Bill In Lame Duck
WASHINGTON, DC – Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Mark Udall (D-CO), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) issued the following statement today urging the Senate to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy this year.
“The Senate should act immediately to debate and pass a defense authorization bill and repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ during the lame duck session. The Senate has passed a defense bill for forty-eight consecutive years. We should not fail to meet that responsibility now, especially while our nation is at war. We must also act to put an end to the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy that not only discriminates against but also dishonors the service of gay and lesbian service members.
“The National Defense Authorization Act is essential to the safety and well-being of our service members and their families, as well as for the success of military operations around the world. The bill will increase the pay of all service members, authorize needed benefits for our veterans and wounded warriors, and launch military construction projects at bases throughout the country.
“The process established by the defense bill would also allow ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to be repealed in an orderly manner, and only after the President, Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have certified to Congress that repeal is ‘consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.’ If Congress does not act to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in an orderly manner that leaves control with our nation’s military leaders, a federal judge may do so unilaterally in a way that is disruptive to our troops and ongoing military efforts. It is important that ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ be dealt with this year, and it appears that the only way that can happen is if it is on the defense bill.
“We are pleased that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has also called on Congress to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ We must act upon our responsibility to our troops and their family members and to the thousands of gay and lesbian service members who serve their nation bravely and honorably by passing the National Defense Authorization Act before the end of the year.”
This is an interesting line in the letter:
The bill will increase the pay of all service members, authorize needed benefits for our veterans and wounded warriors, and launch military construction projects at bases throughout the country.
Imagine if the shoe were on the other foot, and Democrats were filibustering a defense bill that gay pay rises to the troops. The Republicans would eviscerate us. They’d call us un-American troop haters. But we hear nothing of this sort from the White House or folks on the Hill, other than in this laudable letter from three Senators. Why don’t the rest of the Dems, and the White House, ever fight back?
Kerry Eleveld just posted an article on the prospects for legislative action on the DADT language. It’s not good.
Much of what you need to know about the future of ending DADT through the legislative process is summed up in these four paragraphs. See, even Winnie Stachelberg, who concocted the DADT compromise in cahoots with White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, is worried. Winnie is the ultimate insider here. The White House relies on her for compromise and cover. But, as you see, Winnie is worried:
“When you actually look at how much time Congress has to be here in lame duck, and the appetite to get difficult bills done, it will be very difficult to move the defense authorization bill,” said Winnie Stachelberg, who is vice president of external affairs at the Center for American Progress and has worked on the repeal effort.
Stachelberg tempered her comments with glimmers of hope, pointing out recent remarks from White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, who last week spoke to a group of students at The University of Montana about DADT and said, “We’re going to get that done this year.”
Still, she added, “when you throw in the fact that Secretary [Robert] Gates continues to say the legislation should come after the Pentagon’s working group study, which is due December 1, it’s an unbelievably narrow needle to thread with many competing legislative priorities.”
White House spokesperson Shin Inouye said the administration stood by Messina’s declaration, and forwarded White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’s comments last week that “The President, along with his Administration, will continue to work with the Senate Leadership to achieve a legislative repeal of DADT as outlined in the NDAA this fall.”
I wish we could get Shin, Gibbs or Messina to explain what “continue to work” means. We know the President did practically nothing last week to secure passage of the Defense Authorization bill, which includes the DADT language. The WHite House didn’t make one call to Capitol Hill over the Defense bill, let alone DADT — although he called the WNBA champs. So, if they’re going to “continue to work” they way they’ve been working, we’re getting nothing.
And, if you have any doubts, pay attention to this excerpt in Kerry’s piece. Obama’s pick to head the Marine Corps was on Capitol Hill last week testifying against the stated wishes of his Commander-in-Chief:
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, also echoed concerns about the White House’s ability and will to push this bill through, noting recent testimony from the nominee to become the next commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos.
In his written testimony last week, Amos said he opposes changing the law, which he characterized as a “reasonable” compromise.
The source said when the administration preps nominees for a hearing, they usually explicitly tell the nominee not to overtly counter the Commander in Chief.
“That’s rule number one – if you disagree, you do it in private, not in public,” said the source. “[President Lyndon B. Johnson] would have had someone on the guillotine in an hour!”
Amos also foreshadowed what could be a calculated campaign of leaks by repeal detractors at the Department of Defense.
“I’ve heard at the Marine bases and the Marine input for the online survey has been predominantly negative,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The Senate Democratic aide said that type of intel could entirely skew the results of the working group before the study is even released.
“Once those leaks come out, they will weigh on members,” said the aide, which could begin to peel away moderate Democrats who were already on the fence about repeal.
Still not seeing that fierce advocacy.
And, this again shows the massive failings of our lead advocates, which includes HRC and Winnie Stachelberg (yes, somehow, a person with no LGBT constituency became one of the key players in this debacle. She’s not accountable to anyone in the community — and it showed.) We were constantly reminded that HRC and Stachelberg had the relationships with Messina and the White House — and they all failed us. They’ve done a horrible disservice to the gay and lesbian servicemembers who have put their lives on the line for the rest of us. It sickens me.