Hill source: Obama’s insistence on START is dooming DADT

Kerry Eleveld just wrote the same thing in the Advocate this morning, and Joe and I just got the same thing from a connected source on the Hill. The President’s insistence on the Senate taking up the START treaty during the lame duck session may run out the clock on DADT.

Here’s Kerry:

I have to level with you – “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal is most likely dead.

Of course, it’s more than just START. The Democrats are still talking about leaving for Christmas break a good week+ before Christmas. There’s no reason they can’t continue working on legislation up until the day before Christmas. These are, after all, the final days of the Democratically controlled Congress. You’d think the Democrats might want to do as much as they can before they lose their majority in the House. And in fact, Igor Volsky notes that there’s no reason this Congress can’t continue considering legislation up until the new Congress is sworn in, expected to happen around January 3, 2011 – or 28 days from now.

More from Kerry:

The near final nail in the coffin was delivered by Senate majority leader Harry Reid….

Once the impeachment is a wrap, Reid noted that left “a pretty clear path” to what else needed to be addressed – tax cuts, a Continuing Resolution to keep the government funded, and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) plus votes on some other extraneous bills, one of which included the DREAM Act.

Reid said the schedule should leave the Senate “ample time” to complete those priorities and that they hoped to adjourn on December 17.

Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Sen. Carl Levin – perhaps slightly dismayed at no mention of the National Defense Authorization Act – prodded Reid to “say something about the Defense bill.”

Oh yeah… that.

[A] listing of White House talking points that was distributed to Congressional members after last week’s bipartisan meeting made no mention of the National Defense Authorization Act. But guess what was mentioned? START and taxes.

Kerry Eleveld blames the Democrats, starting at the top.

If DADT finally dies (either without a vote or following a symbolic vote that’s doomed to fail), politicians, pundits and advocates alike are surely going to deliver a panoply of theories and excuses as to why – the GOP wouldn’t cooperate, the clock ran out, bad timing because of more salient issues.

But here’s the truth: it will be a fundamental failure of leadership from the top down, starting with President Obama.

The White House chose not to address “don’t ask, don’t tell” until 2010; then they let the Pentagon set the release date of the working group study for December and make the Senate vote contingent on its review.

The calendar is the enemy. But let’s not forget who wrote the calendar:

The fact is, Democratic leaders sealed their own fate on a packed calendar. If the White House and majority leader Reid had shown any urgency about extending tax cuts to the middle class prior to the midterms – which could have been a great campaign issue for them to tout as a win – they wouldn’t presently be backed into the corner of negotiating with the GOP to extend tax cuts for all, including the top 2% of household earners. But instead of forcing that vote, Dems adjourned early before the midterms and once they came back, their bargaining power was in the tanker after the whooping they took at the ballot box.

There’s simply no policy reason to do START now instead of DADT:

If tax cuts had been pushed through before the midterms, there might be “ample time” now to debate the Defense authorization bill too, but neither the White House nor the Democratic leadership fought to make that happen.

Meanwhile, the White House has opted to put START in the pipeline after the tax cuts for no apparent reason. By most people’s estimations, START could absolutely be passed next year despite increased Republican control of Congress.

Kerry concludes:

Was this “the vision” and “the plan” of the White House that HRC’s Joe Solmonese mysteriously alluded to in an NYT article in the spring of 2009?

I don’t think the White House, Senator Reid, HRC, or any of their apologists (Robert Raben, Winnie Stachelberg and Tobias Barrington Wolff come to mind) fully appreciate the finality of ending this lame duck session without DADT, ENDA or DOMA. This is not just another defeat. After this month, it’s over. Our community – our leaders, both straight and gay – will have missed a historic opportunity and a once in a generation chance. And there will, I think, be a serious day of reckoning for everyone whose hubris, blind allegiance, incompetence, and even outright betrayal, led us to this day.

Don’t get me wrong: There’s still a very slim chance of success. But it will take President Obama, Senator Reid, and HRC all doing something they’ve been previously unwilling, or unable, to do: Showing some balls, and true leadership.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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