NYT: Obama let Gates ‘set a slow pace in overturning’ DADT

You may recall that on April 30, 2010, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sent a “strongly worded” letter to Capitol Hill making it clear that he did not want legislative action on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this year. That confirmed what SLDN had been hearing via “multiple reports” from Capitol Hill: Obama administration officials had been urging Congress not to vote on DADT this year.

It was Obama who repeatedly promised to end DADT — and he reaffirmed that commitment in his State of the Union. But, Obama has let Gates set the agenda on DADT:

Mr. Obama has relied on Mr. Gates as his ambassador to the military and deferred to him repeatedly. When Mr. Gates wanted to force out Gen. David D. McKiernan in May 2009 as commander in Afghanistan in favor of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, Mr. Obama signed off. Likewise, cognizant of Bill Clinton’s ill-fated effort to end the ban on gay and lesbian soldiers, Mr. Obama let Mr. Gates set a slow pace in overturning the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, even though it has disappointed gay rights advocates.

Yes, that “slow pace” it has indeed disappointed gay rights advocates. We’re going to be even more disappointed — actually quite angry — if the compromise DADT repeal language isn’t signed into law this year. The looming problem is that the “slow pace” set by Gates may take us into the next Congress. And, if Democrats lose control of the House, there will be no repeal.

Let’s hope Jim Messina, who (along with CAP’s Winnie Stachelberg) concocted the DADT repeal compromise, has a strategy to make sure the Defense Authorization bill, which contains the DADT repeal language, is signed by the President this year. The GOPers are going to do their part to prevent that from happening.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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