Let me begin by quoting my article in Salon of last June:
The president would like us to believe that he’s awfully busy being president, and if we only wait a little while longer, we’ll get our rights. Of course, the president isn’t too busy to stab the community in the back by continuing the military discharges, defending DOMA, and comparing us to pedophiles. (On Wednesday, White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs was given a chance to repudiate the DOMA brief’s language about incest and pedophilia and would not.)
When, Mr. President, will be a good time to set my people free? When will the leader of the free world get a breather, a presidential timeout as it were? (And I thought this was the administration that could walk and chew gum at the same time.) Are we really to believe that 2010, a congressional election year, will be any more timely than today? Or 2011, the beginning of the presidential primaries? Or 2012, with a congressional and presidential election? There is quite literally no time like the present.
Joe just called the Senate Armed Services Committee to find out when the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell hearing is going to be, the one that we were promised would happen this week. They told him the hearing hasn’t been scheduled.
Kerry Eleveld adds more flavor in her update today:
One Capitol Hill veteran I spoke with on Friday was particularly pessimistic, for instance, about the prospects that the White House will push for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” this year.
“I’m getting the sense they will try to ignore this as long as possible and then they will maybe trot out some commission to delay it another year if they are forced to do anything,” said the person. “It will be fascinating to see what the LGBT community does if they do this.”
“They have to connect with things that average Americans are thinking about now,” said the Capitol Hill veteran. “Cap and trade isn’t one of those, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ isn’t one of those.”
Joe and I have said repeatedly, there is never a good time to deal with issues that the public might find “controversial” (even though DADT repeal polls well over 50%). And we’re seeing this play out exactly as we predicted a year ago – that 2009 would be about the economy and health care, that 2010 would be an election year, so Congress wouldn’t touch gay issues. And that 2011 and 2012 would be about the presidential and congressional elections, so again no “controversial” legislation. So, if Obama wins re-election, he could address his gay rights promises in his first year of his second term – assuming no other issues, like the economy, war, or anything else hog the agenda – but after that first year, the same rules kick in again, elections, elections, elections.
(And don’t forget, we were told that ENDA would be passed in 2009 – it wasn’t – and DADT would be repealed this spring.)
As Joe mentioned earlier, we’ll have a clear signal of just what leadership the White House plans to show when the President submits his budget to Congress next week, and we see if the repeal of DADT is included or not.