Feb 12 2010

Gays_military_080611_mn(1) In his campaign and upon ascending to the Presidency, no one was more articulate about the need for healthcare than Barack Obama. Then, perhaps in an attempt to avoid the missteps of the Clinton Healthcare initiative in the 90's, he surrendered leadership on the issue to Congress. However, throwing the ball into their court, he failed for several months to provide dynamic leadership or his own legislation on the healthcare issue. Only when, what most of us expected, Congress was unable to present a coherent piece of healthcare legislation did the President go before Congress and attempted to clean up the mess.

Ironically, he might have just done the exact same maneuver with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT). After a powerful endorsement for repeal of the policy and strong hints from the White House to our community leaders that it would be repealed this Spring, he has thrown the issue into both the Congress and the Pentagon while becoming a bystander.

In a powerful lead article Politico.com which details the toss, we see once again a White House waiting for the useless Senator Joe Lieberman. Say What? We are counting on Senator Lieberman one more time? You have got to be kidding me.

In the article "Left Frets Over Fate Of "Don't Ask" written by Jen DiMascio and Glenn Thrush, they write:

"But House Democratic leadership aides tell POLITICO they are growing increasingly worried over the lack of a detailed White House road map for passing a repeal — and that without such a road map, repeal will end up in the same kind of Senate gridlock that hobbled health reform.

And hopes that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) would galvanize moderates in both parties to the cause by introducing the repeal bill have yet to materialize despite months of negotiations between Lieberman and the White House, according to people familiar with the situation.

“Not only did Obama toss [‘don’t ask, don’t tell’] to a Congress that’s preoccupied with the economy and the midterms — he tossed it to perhaps the most dysfunctional Congress in the history of the country,” said a senior aide to a Senate Democrat who has been pushing for repeal."

DiMascio and Thrush make clear that no strategy has been offered by the White House to Congress for the repeal. In fact, it has been left in limbo with Congress waiting for the Pentagon, the White House waiting for Congress and the Pentagon employing a tactic of sweet talk but delay and delay. The authors continue:

"House and Senate aides praised Obama, Mullen and Gates but say the administration’s point man in the Senate, Jim Messina, hasn't followed up with a detailed plan for how to proceed, leading to some confusion. “

We need a clear path forward,” a senior House Democratic aide said.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says he’s ready to move ahead but needs to hear from Gates about what the Pentagon thinks is the best way to go — a full repeal or less-far-reaching legislation imposing a moratorium on dismissing anyone accused of violating the policy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week she would prefer to move legislation first but may opt to wait for the Pentagon to finish its review. “

I’ll have to examine it. We’ll take a look. We’ll sit down together and see. What is the advantage of going first with legislation?” said Pelosi, a stalwart supporter of gay rights. “Or would the legislation more aptly reflect what is in the review? Or is it a two-step process?”

Into the breach has stepped Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who intends to introduce a moratorium amendment to the upcoming defense authorization bill. But advocates would prefer that the measure have the backing of a more senior senator — preferably, a moderate who sits on the Armed Services Committee and, preferably, one named Lieberman."

Of course, in the end, it is Congressman Patrick Murphy who continues to make the most sense in the article.

"But Taylor and Skelton are in the minority in their party. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.), who’s sponsoring repeal legislation in the House, said he’s assembled 187 co-sponsors and says he has two dozen more “yes” vote commitments.

Being a Democrat in a conservative district shouldn't deter members from supporting repeal, he said. “I won my race by 0.6 percent and have a rematch against that former congressman,” Murphy said of his opposition from former Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick.

In fact, more Democrats — including the conservative Blue Dogs, should support repeal on cost grounds, Murphy said, saying the policy has cost the government more than $1.3 billion over the past 17 years.

“We have to get this done in the Congress,” he said".