Sunday, February 07, 2010

Put down the pom-poms

Saturday Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) gushed, "My hat's off to Barack Obama and the leaders of the Pentagon for redressing a fundamental injustice in the military." It's in that statement that you so quickly grasp how Rothschild could've been such a fool in love for Barack for so very long. What, Matthew, has Barack of the Pentagon done?

Don't Ask, Don't Tell is the current military policy -- replacing the Reagan era position of asking service members if they are gay and then drumming them out -- which says no one can be asked that question and no one can divulge the answer to it. Should a service member state openly that they are gay, they can be forced out of the military. However, no ranking officer has ever been forced out for asking the question. The policy does not work and it needs to be dropped.

Despite Rothschild's cheer leading, nothing happened last week. The White House had a photo op dispatching Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chair of the Joint-Chiefs Mike Mullen to the Senate Armed Services Committee, they had a news cycle, one geared to make a number of donors -- big and small -- open up their wallets and start donating all over again to an increasingly homophobic party.

But what did they do?

Not a damn thing.

[Photo above: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, center front, U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left rear, and U.S. Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, right rear, attend a wreath laying ceremony at the Korean National Cemetery in Seoul, Republic of Korea, Oct. 22, 2009. DoD Photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison]

Tuesday they did a smoke and mirror trick before the American people. For more on that Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, you can see see Tuesday's "Iraq snapshot," Trina's "Senate Armed Services Committee DADT," Wally's "Armed Services Committee, Heroes," Kat's "Barack pretends to care about Don't Ask Don't Tell" and Marica's "Not doing cartwheels right now" (all but Marcia were present at the hearing -- Marcia spoke to the others for their observations and also spoke to Ava who attended the hearing).

What did they hear?

Not much that was really thrilling. But maybe Rothschild, who wasn't at the hearings, caught the network news and formed his opinion based on that? ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams broadcast feel good stories with little connection to reality. It was left to CBS Evening News with Katie Couric to explain reality:

David Martin: Today's testimony made clear it will not happen any time soon -- certainly not this year, if at all. For one thing, Gates wants a year to study . . .

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: What the-the men and women in our armed forces really think about this.

David Martin: For another, Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a law enacted by Congress

Senator John McCain: I'm happy to say that we still have a Congress of the United States that would have to pass a law to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

David Martin: Right now with the military fighting two wars, there are not enough votes to repeal.

If you missed the three Tuesday evening network broadcasts, click here for the transcripts C.I. provided Wednesday morning.

Matthew Rothschild is -- like many -- serving up praise for something that hasn't taken place. Not only that, this isn't a new position for Barack Obama, he campaigned on it. He campaigned for the presidency on repealing this and never bothered to do a damn thing.

In 2009, when US House Rep. Patrick Murphy took up the issue and insisted that he had support in the Senate where Ted Kennedy was set to lead on this issue, we told the hard truth: Kennedy wasn't going to lead on a damn thing, wasn't attending Senate hearings and wasn't healthy enough to help on this. We were right.

We pointed out that no other bill buried in the House had more co-sponsors -- and that's still the case a year later. The bill has so many co-sponsors that it if all the people who co-sponsored it vote for it (and shouldn't they since they co-sponsored it?), they only need five more votes to pass it. But it wasn't brought to a vote in 2009 and hasn't been brought to a vote this year.

Now after we called out the Kennedy lie (we are not accusing Murphy of lying, we are stating he was misled), US House Rep. Barney Frank showed up a little later to insist that there's no need for donors to rebel (they were openly rebelling), the plan was always for this to be tied in to the 2011 defense authorization bill. Really? Because that's not what Patrick Murphy stated.

And Trina, Wally, Kat, Ava and C.I. were front and center Wednesday morning when the US House Armed Services Committee did their first hearing on Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of Defense -- one day after the big photo-op on the Senate -- and Don't Ask, Don't Tell was not front and center or even judged worthy of discussion. One day later.

Grasp that.

Grasp that the same two witnesses were speaking to the Congress. Tuesday, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Adm Mike Mullen (Chair of the Joint-Chiefs) addressed the Senate Armed Services Committee and were talking about Don't Ask, Don't Tell before the questions started. Their opening remarks -- prepared remarks -- deal with Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Mullen declared, in those opening remarks, "It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do. I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens." Yet less than 24 hours later, they appear before the House Armed Services Committee and don't even bring up the subject -- especially notable for Mullen whose prepared opening remarks ran 19 typed pages yet never mentioned Don't Ask, Don't Tell. (For those wondering, that was three times the length of his prepared statement to the Senate the day before.)

What was observed at the Tuesday hearing was that Mullen appeared sincere. Whether he was or not, he appeared sincere. But in many media accounts (including ABC's), Mullen's sincerity was imposed upon Gates as well.

Gates was not comfortable judging by his body language, his clearing of his throat and his stumbling around with words. Gates never offered his own personal opinion -- despite being called out by Senator John McCain -- and never offered anything other than he was doing what the president told him to do.

He was a study in reluctance.

And what were they offering?

They were offering a one year study.

To change a policy that fosters inequality and hatred, they needed a year to study it. Then maybe something would come of it.

Where in the hosannas Rothschild or anyone else has offered do you grasp that there's no movement on this issue?

Thursday, James Hohmann (Politico) reported:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi suggested Thursday that Democrats may wait on voting to repeal the ban on gays in the military until after the midterm elections and after the Pentagon has completed a full review of its "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
"We've done a heavy lift, and I don't know," Pelosi told reporters. "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? Or would the legislation more aptly reflect what is in the review? Or is it a two step-process?"

For those paying attention, Pelosi's remarks are not only disappointing, they recall Dick Durbin's 2009 stance. As Manu Raju (Politico) reported September 3, 2009, "Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says the Senate is swamped and has little time on the schedule for this fight."

Matthew Rothschild needs to toss aside the pom-poms and grasp that there's nothing to cheer here, that we're being played and that instead of applauding non-action, the left needs to apply real pressure.
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