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

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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Sargent: What about the gay service members?

An excellent point, and piece, by Greg Sargent over at the Washington Post:

One thing that’s been oddly missing from the debate in the Senate over repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is any discussion of the moral and human dimensions of this story. The discussion has mostly been bone dry: It’s all about what the statistics in the Pentagon report actually reveal and whether Robert Gates will implement repeal on a sufficiently flexible timetable.

Indeed, when Senator James Webb today asked the Service Chiefs a simple question about the human beings impacted by this discriminatory policy, everyone at the hearing acted a bit startled. Webb asked: What should we do with patriotic Americans who have already served our country for years, and want to lead free and open lives? Everyone looked uncomfortable, as if Webb had gone way off topic,

Greg has a lot more. Read it.




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Greg Sargent: DADT language could pass ‘if the Dem leadership tries to make it happen’

Via Greg Sargent, news that passing the DADT language is possible, but it will take some commitment from the Majority Leader:

It’s widely assumed that the White House and Dems will punt on holding a vote on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell during the lame duck session because there aren’t 60 votes for it in the Senate to get it past a GOP filibuster. Senator Carl Levin, who heads the relevant committee, is talking about separating out DADT repeal from the Defense Authorization Bill for precisely this reason.

But very plugged in staffers who are actively involved in counting votes for Senators who favor repeal tell me it’s premature to conclude this — and that it could still get 60 votes in the Senate. These staffers tell me they’ve received private indications from a handful of moderate GOP Senators that they could vote for cloture on a Defense Authorization Bill with DADT repeal in it — if Dem leaders agree to hold a sustained debate on DADT on the Senate floor.

Here’s why this is important: It throws the ball back into the court of Senator Harry Reid and the White House. It means the onus is on them, mainly on Reid, to agree to a two-week Senate debate on the bill, including allowing amendments. Reid had previously tried to limite amendments, leading GOP moderates to balk. And Dem leaders may not want to allow this two week debate now, because time is short and it could prolong the session. But they should do it, because it’s the only real chance to get repeal done. And it could get done.

The GOP Senators who are in play, according to these staffers, are Richard Lugar, George Voinovich, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins. A spokesman for Lugar, Mark Helmke, tells me that Lugar would vote for cloture if Reid staged “ordered debate on a number of issues in the bill.”

Our allies, from the White House to Capitol Hill, keep saying they want to pass the Defense bill with the DADT language intact. Okay, do it.

This means that Congress can’t go home on December 10th. Senators will may have to work right up til Christmas, you know, like most Americans do (and, unlike most Americans, those Senators can’t change their plane reservations without penalties and most don’t have to worry about finding a parking space at the airport.)

There are two other developments worth noting. Greg Sargent also reports:

Sources also tell me that senators Joe Lieberman, Mark Udall and Kirsten Gillibrand will hold a press conference tomorrow urging the Dem leadership to allow the final two-week debate, arguing that this still can happen. This is no small thing: They are urging their own party leadership to do this.

And, via Kerry Eleveld, according to the White House, the President and his staffers are making calls to Senators:

“Today, President Obama called Chairman [Carl] Levin to reiterate his commitment on keeping the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the National Defense Authorization Act, and the need for the Senate to pass this legislation during the lame duck. The President’s call follows the outreach over the past week by the White House to dozens of Senators from both sides of the aisle on this issue.”




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