What the Hell Is Wrong With the Obama Administration?

Okay, let’s recap:

Obama campaigned in part on a promise to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Which is great, because a majority of Americans, including many (perhaps most) in the military want it repealed.

Then, once elected, he did nothing about it. Okay, I can chalk that up to priorities (the economy had to come first) and a disposition toward being cautious.

The Log Cabin Republicans sued to overturn the policy. In September, District Judge Virginia Phillips found DADT unconstitutional and ordered the Pentagon to stop enforcing it.

At which point he had the DOJ appeal the decision, and assured a country rightly concerned about this that “This policy will end, and it will end on my watch.

Just not as quickly as it would have if he’d done quite literally nothing.

So yesterday, Bloomberg reported that the Log Cabin Republicans have appealed to the Supreme Court, and the Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to uphold the ban, “arguing that a change in the law should come from Congress, not the courts.”

Ha. As if. Congress includes Republicans, the Party of Not Just No But Hell No, remember? And Congress has been oh so much more effective than the courts at overturning injustices in the past, right?

Which brings us to today’s Post:

A Pentagon study group has concluded that the military can lift the ban on gays serving openly in uniform with only minimal and isolated incidents of risk to the current war efforts, according to two people familiar with a draft of the report, which is due to President Obama on Dec. 1.

More than 70 percent of respondents to a survey sent to active-duty and reserve troops over the summer said the effect of repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy would be positive, mixed or nonexistent, said two sources familiar with the document. The survey results led the report’s authors to conclude that objections to openly gay colleagues would drop once troops were able to live and serve alongside them.

So what’s the hold-up? Why is the Obama administration dragging its feet on this?

Gah.

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4 Responses to What the Hell Is Wrong With the Obama Administration?

  1. Fez says:

    As I see it there are a couple of related reasons for this order of action:
    1) DADT is the law of the land. See US Code Title 10 Section 654 “Policy concerning homosexuality in the armed forces”. It’s a Legislative responsibility to repeal it. Executive branch attempting an end run would no doubt end up delaying the repeal even further as everyone bickers over the authority of the Executive branch to repeal laws, an authority they do not have.

    2) Until such time as the legislature repeals DADT President Obama may feel obligated under Article 2 Section 3 Clause 4 to mount a defense of the law as it stands.

    Consider that every shortcut taken creates grounds for an appeal or other delaying action by opponents. By sticking to the letter of the law the opportunities for appeal are minimized and remain well within established precedent such that SCotUS (even the Roberts Court) would have an extremely difficult time finding a crack that would enable DADT to remain on the books (unless one or more justices want to follow in the footsteps of Samuel Chase)

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  2. arensb says:

    Fez:

    DADT is the law of the land.

    True. At least, until the various appeals go through and a court decides that it’s no longer the law of the land.

    Until such time as the legislature repeals DADT President Obama may feel obligated under Article 2 Section 3 Clause 4 to mount a defense of the law as it stands.

    There’s that. And as I understand it, if the US Government is the defendant in this case, then the DoJ may be the only entity with standing to defend the law. So yeah, I understand the apparent irony of the administration defending a law that it claims to want repealed.

    But what pisses me off is the apparent enthusiasm with which this administration has defended DADT in deed, if not in word. It would have been one thing if he’d gotten a formal request from the Pentagon to appeal the decision (even if he’d discreetly asked the Joint Chiefs to issue this request, for appearances’ sake), or if he’d been accused by Republicans in Congress of not upholding the constitution.

    Even if Obama hasn’t reasoned the way you outline, someone in the White House has. If they’d wanted to play up that angle, they could have. And to be fair, the administration has made some noise along those lines. But not a lot, and certainly not accompanied by foot-dragging that would have made it more plausible.

    every shortcut taken creates grounds for an appeal or other delaying action by opponents. By sticking to the letter of the law the opportunities for appeal are minimized and remain well within established precedent

    This would carry a lot more weight if it weren’t for the eight years of Dubya “Unitary Executive” Bush and Dick “Go fuck yourself” Cheney. There’s precedent for the president doing whatever the hell he wants. Even allowing for Obama wanting to be remembered as “not as bad as Bush”.

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  3. Fez says:

    arensb Says:

    what pisses me off is the apparent enthusiasm with which this administration has defended DADT in deed, if not in word.

    Guess I haven’t seen many signs of enthusiasm. To me that would be press conferences stating they’ll take the defense of DADT to the wall if they have to and labeling anyone who doesn’t support their efforts as “un-American” or something equally Republitrite.

    This would carry a lot more weight if it weren’t for the eight years of Dubya “Unitary Executive” Bush and Dick “Go fuck yourself” Cheney. There’s precedent for the president doing whatever the hell he wants.

    Which may be another motivating factor in playing it strictly by the book. Just as, “yeee haw” isn’t a foreign policy, “Because I said so!” isn’t Legislation. Or even leadership for that matter.

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  4. JF says:

    While it would have been great if the Admin. had fixed it, I don’t fault them for their 2010 actions. Once that military study was commissioned, they had to wait for it. 1) If they had let the court overturn it, the “right” would have a field day with their “activist courts” meme and that would get them motivated and forcing the issue and leaning on judicial appointments more. 2) If they had tried to overturn it by executive action dodging the congressional law of DADT, it would be heavy-handed and the opposition could get the “right” up about anti-military and anti-us safety memes and homosexual agenda forced on us stuff. 3) Once they forced the military to study it, if they suspected the study would turn out as it should (and probably did), then they can say that it is unconstitutional, unfair and safe to fix. Congress can be forced into fixing it if the military doesn’t object strongly.
    As such, it should go away in the next year, but without feeding regressive memes. They forced hearings and the study (mildly progressive) in 09, and were doing a tactical delaying action in 2010 so that DADT would be weakened 2010 and die with far fewer consequences and political capital. In 2015, if it works soon as I expect, we’ll look back and see it as decent (but slow) strategy to make it fade with a whimper instead of bang.

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