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A possible end to the Obama-rama?

February 3, 2009
A more honest Obama pin.

A more honest Obama pin.

It’s been a while since I wrote an angry political post, so you knew one was due. That’s why I’m taking a masochistic joy in relaying the Boston Globe’s recent article on the Obama administration backtracking on its promise to repeal “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The Obama administration is telling the Pentagon and gay-rights advocates that it will have to study the implications for national security and enlist more support in Congress before trying to overturn the so-called “don’t ask, don’t tell” law and allow gays to serve openly in the military, according to people involved in the discussions.

The gist of the story is this: Obama’s trying to avoid Clinton’s past mistakes, which led to the very policy Obama’s ostensibly trying to get rid of, by getting evidence and support to back up his claim that gays should be able to service openly in the military.

Now, I understand pragmatism; he’ll need to prove his point to get lawmakers’ support. But am I the only one frustrated by the idea that we need a study to show that discrimination is wrong? Especially when other countries, like England, have gay-friendly militaries and suffer no ill effects to the forces? Or when we’ve fired a huge number of gay language experts?

(Self-disclosure: I was a French major in college and am a total language nerd, so the linguist thing is a double-whammy for me.)

Honestly, I think Obama’s real crime here is a lack of outreach to the gay community. I realize he has to walk a bit of a tightrope because of the crazies, but I’m really getting tired of seeing mainstream politicians treat the GLBT community like lepers. Especially given that, as the Globe helpfully reminds us, his administration was singing a different tune very recently.

As recently as Jan. 15, his spokesman made Obama’s ultimate intentions clear. “You don’t hear politicians give a one-word answer much,” Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, responded when asked whether the new president would take action to overturn the 1993 law. “But it’s ‘Yes.’ “

As exciting as that announcement was, even to a pacifist like myself with absolutely no desire whatsoever to join the military, it now seems like this is yet another case of Obama wanting to have his cake and eat it too, reminiscent of his rainbow campaign buttons even as he insisted that “marriage is between a man and a woman.”

I just hope he at least realizes that parents like his must have felt a frustration similar to the one I’m experiencing now, back when they were the lepers du jour.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Adelaide permalink
    February 3, 2009 1:18 am

    It would be very short-sighted to cut off (especially military) linguists because of their sexuality, no matter what Government/Adminstration is in the US at the time.

  2. February 3, 2009 2:27 am

    It was shortsighted when Bush did it, and it will be shortsighted if Obama doesn’t correct it. There’s no reason for it, other than a bigoted inertia we could easily overcome if we really tried.

  3. tptigger permalink
    February 3, 2009 9:09 am

    I get why you’re ticked (I’m rather annoyed), but look at it this way: certain folks, some of whom are in Congress, are more concerned with what the Bible says than right and wrong. Obama’s looking for cold hard facts (and it would be smart to get stats from the British military) to combat the bible thumpers. :)

  4. February 3, 2009 4:44 pm

    Adelaide – I agree with you, but I’m afraid that’s what’s already happened. Off the top of my head, I believe at least 100 (and possibly hundreds) of gay linguists have been kicked out of the military because of DODT, mostly specialists in important languages like Arabic. It’s mind-boggling.

    Rob – While definitely a short-sighted move, it was actually put into place by President Clinton after a failed bid to let gays serve openly. I fully admit that a huge flop like that is exactly what Obama is trying to avoid.

    TPTigger – You’re right; I’m just frustrated with the very fact that this is all necessary.

  5. February 4, 2009 8:45 pm

    Hmm, I’ve been thinking about this since we talked yesterday.

    I guess I think that it’s complete bullshit that this sort of thing is even in question. And making it clear to the world that discrimination is unacceptable, and that this report *ought* to be obviously unnecessary, is a fine reaction.

    But that’s anger at the world, and at the truly backwards folks. I’m not sure that Obama deserves this anger. After all, this isn’t a problem that can be solved with an executive order; Congress has to be convinced, and that’s not going to be trivial. Taking the time to do it right is the right thing for a politician in this position to do. He could be better at communicating that this is what he is planning to do, but after all he hasn’t actually announced anything about his plans on this issue yet… it looks like this story is a single-sourced leak. I’m not going to hold missing PR against the administration when the timing of this story could very well be completely out of their control.

    But again, that’s not to say that “take it slowly and build up a report before trying to fix anything” should be how *you* or *I* treat life. We’re not trying to convince a legislative body of anything.

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