DADT repeal on schedule -- Obama's schedule
By Jonathan Bernstein
Via Andrew Sullivan, Brian Beutler over at TPM reports that according to Sen. Carl Levin, the Obama administration "got religion on the issue 'in the last few days.' " Sullivan wonders: "Why did Obama change his tune?"
Well, perhaps, but I think the person who nailed this repeatedly last year (for example here) was Mark Kleiman. As he's argued, Obama has followed a slow but steady path, with the key step of getting the military brass solidly on board before throwing it into the publicity glare of congressional action. Kleiman has bet all along that repeal would happen this year, and while the measure will still have to actually have the votes, things look pretty good for repeal as of now.
As far as what changed, that seems fairly obvious to me: The plan for some time has been to add DADT repeal as a rider to the defense appropriations bill. What's changed is the calendar, pure and simple. It's time for approps mark-ups, and so it was time to work the next step out.
This is, of course, typical of the way that Barack Obama goes about business: light on the bluster, don't worry about the ephemeral news cycle, stick to long-term plans. Now, it's also true, reportedly, that activists have been pushing hard on this issue. But that's one of the advantages of the long-term strategy! By keeping a low public profile on issues that were not yet ripe -- by which I mean ready for actual meaningful action, such as a mark-up or a floor vote, not in the more abstract sense -- Obama is able to see which issues really do have constituencies who care, one way or another. Perhaps if advocates of repeal had put most of their energy into other issues, and perhaps if outcry among pro-ban groups had been louder, Obama might have changed course. But it seems to me pretty obvious that repeal has been his intended course from the beginning.
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