Big Moves Behind the Scenes

I have been unaware that things were moving so rapidly against the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy in the Military. A judge in California ruled that the policy was unconstitutional and earlier this year, another judge ordered that a gay air force member be reinstated after being discharged for violating DADT.

There are a bunch of interesting and bizarre subtleties to how things are going regarding this issue. The bottom line is that this little DADT squabble proves that I am right once again about everything. I’ll explain below.

First, the lawsuit that eventually resulted in a current injunction against ENFORCEMENT of DADT (the current ruling does not force the wholesale abandonment of the policy) was brought by the log cabin republicans. I was expecting the ACLU or some other very liberal group, but instead we have republicans who are, I’m guessing, very concerned with national security and the excellence of the armed forces. It also think is a smart strategic move for the legal community to let the LCR bring this suit because the policy is supposedly a republican darling. Having republicans bringing the suit is just a way of really demonstrating that this policy has to go.

Even stranger though is that in September, Obama (well technically, the DOJ) asked the court NOT TO enforce its ruling. Huh? I thought Obama was all for getting rid of DADT, it was certainly one his campaign promises. The answer to the seeming paradox is that the DOJ asked for time to fashion a non-judicial solution, meaning that congress would probably have to become involved.

I find this very curious, because of the possible interpretations. My first inclination is to think this is a very stupid move on the part of the Obama team. What’s the strategy in having Obama jump in front of judicial ruling in a case involving republicans? He is exposing himself to backlash from anti-gay groups when he could have just let the whole thing wind down in the obscurity of the courts, which could divert blame from him. As I already said, its even better because REPUBLICANS brought this lawsuit.

Then I thought more about it. Maybe Obama wants to fashion a legislative solution because this is in keeping with his post-partisan philosophy. Ok, maybe, and if that’s the case, that it kind of a gracious and noble move. It gives all the major stakeholders a chance to iron something comprehensive out and adds democratic legitimacy to what would have been judicial fiat (something that has gotten a bad rap in recent times what with accusations of “activist courts” out there.)

Then I thought, more cynically of a third interpretation (beyond Obama being dumb or noble) which is that he wants to use this as an opportunity to humiliate or attack republicans who support the policy. I mean anyone who supports the policy is pretty stupid, but I think it would be unwise for Obama to introduce this topic just to bludgeon opponents with the fact that most Americans believe gays should serve openly in the military (78% from one poll I saw), and that the court has already rule the policy unconstitutional.

Anyway, I honestly don’t know which of these three interpretations is best. Is Obama, stupid, noble, or cynical? Not sure.

Lastly, I’m also pretty interested by the fact that there seems to be no coverage of both the drama leading up to the recent court rulings and also these latest wrinkles in the rulings themselves. My media-hating suspicion is that the issue defies the normal narrative of republican=anti-gay and liberals=pro-gay too much to be a useful news story. There are just too much nuances and the media machine prefers, above all else, to keep nuance out of things; people just don’t have time for it anymore (if they ever did).

(Side note: what are all the ivy league colleges going to do now that they can’t pretend to be keeping recruiters off of campuses due to DADT?)


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