There was something somewhat distasteful about Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett co-opting Dan Savage’s anti-bullying message by taking its name and using it as the title of her speech at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual “No Excuses” dinner last night.
And it’s even more distasteful that she mentioned Dan’s slogan “it gets better” in her speech, but didn’t even bother mentioning the anti-bullying campaign it represented, or the fact that Dan was spearheading it. Better to plagiarize than give credit to a real fierce advocate.
But putting aside that little bit of chutzpah, there’s the larger gall of anyone in the Obama administration daring to tell gay people that things are going to get better when things in Obama-land keep getting decidedly worse.
The President blew off DADT, ENDA and DOMA in his first year. He finally decided to get to DADT in his second year, but was so afraid to stand up to his own Secretary of Defense that he cut a deal that pretty much guaranteed repeal would never happen under his watch. As for ENDA, it’s gone. And DOMA, well, no one in the Democratic party wants to touch it with a ten foot pole.
And now with the upcoming November elections expected to be a disaster for Democrats, even if we keep the House (which pundits consider unlikely at the moment), Democrats will be so shell-shocked they won’t touch anything smacking of “liberalism” or “controversy” for years to come.
The President who repeatedly promised to be our “fierce advocate” has been pretty much business as usual. He pays lip service to our civil rights, but doesn’t seem terribly interested in spending any political capital to help make them a reality. And the effort he did make, on DADT, was so botched, so amateur, that it’s pretty much dead in the water, as many of us predicted it would be.
Promise after promise from this administration, to the LGBT community, to people who care about the environment, to Latinos, to women, to Americans concerned about civil liberties, have been broken time and again. It’s come to the point where very few people believe that the President’s word means anything at all. And Valerie Jarrett shows up on the scene to tell us that she feels our pain, and that things will get better?
When exactly is it going to get better, Valerie? 2017?
Joe had dinner with Jarrett at the Netroots Nation conference last year, and from all accounts, she’s a very nice woman. But the situation has moved beyond nice. We didn’t vote for nice. We voted for change. We voted for someone who promised he would be fierce, he would be our advocate. When in fact, he’s been quite mediocre at best.
Yes, he signed the hate crimes bill, while lifting nary a finger to get it past. He issued a memo on hospital visitations that will get thrown out by the next Republican administration. And he gave federal workers a bunch of benefits that they already had, even though he pretended that they were new. And don’t forget the Easter Egg roll – if you can’t get married or keep your job, there’s always the Easter Egg roll. Can’t you feel the change?
When does it get better, Valerie?
When will the President ever start actually fighting for the things he’s promised? When does he start making phone calls to Senators on DADT the same way he makes phone calls to women’s basketball teams? When does he stop defending DOMA and DADT in court, undercutting our entire civil rights legal strategy? And when is the President finally going to agree to do an interview with a gay publication – he hasn’t done any as President. Does Kerry Eleveld have the cooties, or is the President just too busy with that women’s basketball team?
It’s all well and good for you to come the HRC dinner and try to co-opt Dan Savage’s anti-bullying campaign to give your boss cover for the abominable job he’s done on his promises to our community. But no one’s buying it, Valerie. How can you claim to be against bullying gay youth when your own administration politically bullies them each and every day? How is it not bullying to tell a gay kid that God doesn’t think he deserves to marry the person he loves? How is it not bullying to go to court and invoke incest and pedophilia while defending the hideous Defense of Marriage Act? How is it not bullying to tell those same kids that their civil rights just aren’t as important as getting chummy with a bunch of basketball players?
And how is it not bullying to accuse people of sowing discord when they are simply asking you to keep your promise?
So I ask you again, Valerie, on behalf of every single gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender person who voted for Barack Obama, donated money to Barack Obama, and worked their ass off to put Barack Obama in the White House: When does he get better?