Why the fierce advocacy on START but not the DOD bill or DADT?

Posted on 22 Nov 2010 at 4:44am

An informed friend writes:

If passage of the annual defense bill — and DADT — is a such a big priority for the White House, then why isn’t the White House mounting a strategy to make the Senate pass it? As we know, DADT repeal MUST occur this year, or we will lose the opportunity for years to come. Instead, the White House has mounted a full-scale offensive to get the Senate to pass the New START nuclear weapons treaty. The White House has even gotten foreign governments speaking up to pressure the Senate to act this year on the treaty. But WHY? There is really no imperative reason that the Senate must pass the new START treaty this year. It would be nice to pass it this year — sure — but not essential, unlike the defense bill. We have passed a defense bill 48 years in a row, for the safety and welfare of our troops. This defense bill even includes a pay raise for those troops. But now, a manufactured tight Senate schedule and misplaced presidential priorities threaten to derail the defense bill and DADT repeal.

Once again, note the difference between saying you’re for something and actually doing something to make it happen. The White House wants to pass the START treaty because they think it’s cool. Because they think it would make the President look successful. Mind you, it won’t change YOUR lives one bit in the near-term, but that’s apparently not what presidenting is all about – it’s not about actually helping millions of Americans during an economic crisis.  (And spare me the “START is saving us from nuclear war” talk – I seriously doubt we’re at risk of having a nuclear war some time in the  next two weeks.)  So the White House pulls out all the stops to get START passed now, even though it can wait until next year.

On the DOD bill, and DADT, not much more than words so far.

Let me explain this clearly: Getting a pay raise for 1.5m active duty personnel and another 1.5m reservists, both of which are in the DOD bill along with DADT, just isn’t on the presidential radar during one of the worst economic crises in American history.  The political tone-deafness of this White House is actually more astounding by the day.  I wonder how many of those 3m votes, who now won’t see a pay raise, are going to vote for Obama because he traded their raises away for the START treaty.  I say none.

But political smarts isn’t what we voted for – correction, it’s what we voted for, it’s not what we got.




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