For the past 24 hours, the liberal Center for American Progress has been on a rather public campaign to take credit for the entire Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell compromise that has much of the gay community in an uproar.
CAP’s effort to claim the mantle of glory for the amendment is odd for a number of reasons. Perhaps most importantly, it’s not entirely clear who invited CAP, a non-gay think tank, to the table in the first place – let alone who anointed them the head of the lgbt civil rights movement, granting them the authority to cave on our demand for the full repeal of DADT. Just as odd is the extent to which CAP has repeatedly tried to take credit for the deal in the past 48 hours. Even by the standards of our actual national gay groups, who have raised taking credit for things they didn’t do to an art, CAP’s repeated efforts to hog the limelight, when our actual gay representatives have been rather quiet about just how we came up with this compromise, are unusual to the say the least.
The amendment, put forward formally the same day by Senator Joseph Lieberman, had been drafted by CAP and circulated among legislators starting roughly two months ago, Stachelberg said.
Stachelberg is Winnie Stachelberg, a former HRC employee and senior official at CAP. And we now find out that she caved on our demand for the full and immediate repeal of DADT two months ago. Two months ago. While SLDN and Servicemembers United were still lobbying the Hill for the votes for full repeal, CAP was apparently telling legislators not to worry about full repeal this year – at least that’s what CAP is now claiming, in an effort to get credit.
This isn’t the first time CAP has tried to claim credit for the compromise. In an email sent out two days ago, the Center for American Progress Action Fund wrote the following:
The repeal language Congress is currently considering explicitly acknowledges the Pentagon’s review by delaying implementation of repeal until after the president, secretary of defense, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that implementing repeal will not have a negative impact on military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, or recruiting. CAP Action provided the draft certification language, and we are very pleased to see it adopted as part of the amendment that will be considered this week.
I don’t begrudge anyone who wants credit where credit is due. But there are at least two problems with CAP’s apparent coup d’etat over the gay movement.
First, who died and made CAP queen?
Second, I seriously doubt that CAP was responsible for getting the Obama administration to move forward on anything related to DADT. Instead, it’s fairly clear that the only reason we’re seeing any movement at all is because of the coordinated efforts of the gay Netroots, the grassroots (in the former of GetEqual), and groups like SLDN and Servicemembers United who amped up their rhetoric critical of the administration. That’s why we’re seeing any movement at all. Though I suppose it is possible that CAP took advantage of the opportunity everyone else created, and caved on our behalf, without our knowledge.
If I were the powers that be at the Center for American Progress, I’d spend less time claiming credit for a compromise that everyone hates, and more time trying to improve it.