President at today’s presser – DADT legislative action ‘potentially during the lame duck session’

Don’t hold your breath on that one. Haven’t we been led down paths that lead to a steep drop off of a cliff for the last two years? Today the President held a news conference, mostly to address questions in the aftermath of the Dem disaster at the polls last night.

There was one question asked by CNN’s Ed Henry about DADT repeal that generated more smoke and mirrors from President Obama — and notice he didn’t address the loaded issue in the last sentence of Henry’s question.

Ed Henry: Just on a policy front, “don’t ask, don’t tell” is something that you promised to end. And when you had 60 votes and 59 votes in the Senate — it’s a tough issue — you haven’t been able to do it. Do you now have to tell your liberal base that with maybe 52 or 53 votes in the Senate, you’re just not going to be able to get it done in the next two years?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me take the second issue first. I’ve been a strong believer in the notion that if somebody is willing to serve in our military, in uniform, putting their lives on the line for our security, that they should not be prevented from doing so because of their sexual orientation. And since there’s been a lot of discussion about polls over the last 48 hours, I think it’s worth noting that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel the same way. It’s the right thing to do.

Now, as Commander-in-Chief, I’ve said that making this change needs to be done in an orderly fashion. I’ve worked with the Pentagon, worked with Secretary Gates, worked with Admiral Mullen to make sure that we are looking at this in a systemic way that maintains good order and discipline, but that we need to change this policy.

There’s going to be a review that comes out at the beginning of the month that will have surveyed attitudes and opinions within the armed forces. I will expect that Secretary of Defense Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen will have something to say about that review. I will look at it very carefully. But that will give us time to act in — potentially during the lame duck session to change this policy.

Keep in mind we’ve got a bunch of court cases that are out there as well. And something that would be very disruptive to good order and discipline and unit cohesion is if we’ve got this issue bouncing around in the courts, as it already has over the last several weeks, where the Pentagon and the chain of command doesn’t know at any given time what rules they’re working under.

We need to provide certainty and it’s time for us to move this policy forward. And this should not be a partisan issue. This is an issue, as I said, where you’ve got a sizable portion of the American people squarely behind the notion that folks who are willing to serve on our behalf should be treated fairly and equally.

Yes, well potentially, I could win the lottery, but the above statement is practically meaningless. It would have been enlightening to hear President Obama address the demoralized base, particularly those LGBTs who advocated for action in the first two years, knowing that midterms would suck all the air out of “change.” But of course, those who “knew better” kept telling us that…

It’s only been ____ months since he’s been in office; he has a lot on his plate.

It was the excuse to give him a pass. And when it dragged on and the warning signs were there that nothing would be done in 2010 because of WH fear about its political miscalculations, and worse, that it relied on HRC (which was banking on a Hillary win, for good or ill) as the main representative of “the LGBT community.” And this administration’s fumbling communications style (as in none, or dodging), has made it clear it was getting bad advice.

Anyway, today’s presser just sounds like more of the same. I don’t think the ass-kicking last night has changed things one iota for the relationship between the LGBT community and this administration. It remains to be seen whether the WH feels it has any justification for coming to the LGBT community for $upport for 2012.

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Reaction from SLDN:

Statement from Army veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis:

“When asked about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ today,  the President was right to focus on the lame duck session in the Senate as the best place to get repeal this year. If the President, Senator Majority Leader Reid, and Secretary Gates are aligned and determined to see the defense bill move this year the chances are good repeal can still happen, but they will need several Republican senators to join them. Clearly a bipartisan vote will be needed to take up the bill in the Senate and to ensure final passage this year.”

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—  admin

If you were Sens. Durbin and Lieberman and planning a DADT presser, who would you invite?

Think about the cast of assertive characters at the forefront of lobbying on the Hill and working the media on DADT repeal over the last year — a long list of DADT-discharged service members, advocacy orgs Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, and Servicemembers United among the high profile outlets.

If you’re Assistant Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Joe Lieberman and planning a presser for tomorrow, wouldn’t you want representatives from above at your side for credibility?

Apparently not. Look at the invitees for a presser tomorrow (via media advisory from Harry Reid’s office):

Thumbnail link: Parody Film Poster Of 'Mighty Joe Solmonese'

  • Joe Solmonese, President, Human Rights Campaign
  • Eric Alva, Iraq war veteran, United States Marine Corps
  • Cesar Vargas, City University of New York (CUNY) [L]aw Student who would be able to join the military under the DREAM Act

I’m sorry, but where’s Aubrey Sarvis of SLDN, for instance, who has actually served in the military and has bucked the WH and the Hill to be very outspoken on DADT repeal? Where are the vets who accompanied Lady Gaga? Hmm. Do you think tender egos related to the latter had anything to do with this?

I’m sure many little Beltway birdies will be dropping messages to me and I will have more details on this travesty tomorrow.

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Speaking of Harry Reid’s office, all I could say about the Senate Majority Leader after reading this was “Oh, f*ck no.” (The Politico):

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had an unusual form of praise for New York’s junior senator, Kirsten  Gillibrand, this morning at the fundraiser Mayor Bloomberg hosted for him at his townhouse – referring to her as the “hottest” member as she sat just a few feet away, according to three sources.

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Meanwhile, check out Joe Sudbay’s latest post “Olbermann talks the hurdles facing DADT repeal with Richard Socarides“:

UPDATE @ 10:39 PM: Shortly after I wrote this post, I was informed by someone involved with this process that the White House is not lobbying fence-sitting senators to reach the magic 60 votes. Here’s what I was told:
As we all know, without a fierce effort and person-to-person advocacy from Obama himself (or at least his senior-most staff), Senators have little reason to change their minds and support debating the Defense Authorization bill. Never did I think I’d see the day when Lady Gaga would do more to advocate for repeal of DADT than our president who campaigned on equality.

It’s stunning really. And, they wonder why the base is depressed.

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—  John Wright

Fed DADT ruling ignored at Obama presser; taken no questions from LGBT media since election

How can front-page news like the federal court ruling that DADT is unconstitutional be completely ignored when the President held a conference in its wake? Easy, apparently, because no LGBT reporter was called on, and the rest of the press corps was asleep or willing to give the President at pass, and not take what would place Obama in a tough position for an answer.

Mediate noticed the omission and the political fallout and questions about this administration’s clear signal that it does not want any national attention brought to its treatment of LGBT media and issues.

While there are plenty of issues facing the White House, the lack of questions about DADT comes as some are noting that the Obama administration has ignored the gay and lesbian press generally and has avoided answering questions about DADT, same-sex marriage, and an employment non-discrimination bill that would protect employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In addition to no questions about the DADT ruling from last night, this was the first press conference since a court in California struck down California’s ban on same-sex marriage based on constitutional grounds.

Kerry Eleveld, the Washington correspondent for The Advocate, tweeted after the press conference:

POTUS presser ending, no #dadt questions; Obama has yet to take a single question from #lgbt press since being elected.

Eleveld is the only full-time member of the White House press corps representing an LGBT press outfit and she often asks questions of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, but she’s never gotten a question to Obama. Obama has yet to offer an interview with the LGBT press during his administration.

Other constituency media were called on — black and Latino outlets, as well as Haaretz (Middle East issues) and AURN (poverty)– indicates those issues are safe to answer, yet DADT is a top story on air and in print is ignored.

That underscores this White House’s disdain for engaging LGBT issues, in this case a national security issue involving the discharge of otherwise trained and qualified individuals because of their sexual orientation.

And Kerry Eleveld’s point that the President hasn’t taken a question or sat down for an interview since he was elected is damning, given he’s done so for every other constituency in the fold. Mediaite references the WH meeting that PHB attended with other LGBT outlets not long ago, as “one of a kind.” At that meeting I actually told Barnes about the fact that the President has avoided LGBT media and she acted surprised.

No interview opportunity has arisen since that meeting. They can’t feign ignorance. We cannot ignore that we are political pariahs to this White House, but we aren’t untouchables when they come knocking at the gAyTM. If the WH cannot even stand a question about DADT repeal or unconstitutionality – and repeal has broad public support – we’re up sh*ts creek for the DOMA cases winding their way toward his DOJ.

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—  John Wright