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Posted at 1:45 PM ET, 11/19/2010

Senator John Ensign may support DADT repeal

By Greg Sargent

Another step forward on Don't Ask Don't Tell, ladies and gents.

In a letter to constituents who have inquired about his position on DADT, GOP Senator John Ensign strongly suggests he is leaning towards supporting repeal of the policy, another sign that there may be enough tacit GOP support in the Senate for repeal to get it past a GOP filibuster.

"It is my firm belief that Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation, should be able to fight and risk their lives in defense of this great nation," Ensign writes in the letter, which I've obtained. "As a nation currently engaged in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, the focus of all decisions affecting military readiness, recruiting and retention, and unit cohesion should be to maximize the success of ongoing operations."

In the letter, Ensign adds the caveat that he's still awaiting a Pentagon report, due out on December 1st, that will gauge the impact of repealing the policy. Asked for comment, Ensign spokesperson Jennifer Cooper reiterated this point: "Senator Ensign is waiting on the report from the Pentagon and the testimony of the military chiefs to see if any changes to this policy can or should be done in a way so as not to harm the readiness or war fighting capabilities of our troops."

But it's already been reported that it's set to find repeal of the policy can be done with minimal and isolated risk.

This could be a big deal. As I reported the other day, Dems are increasingly confident that a handful of moderate GOPers will vote to support repeal, if Senator Harry Reid allows a full and open amendment process. GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski is indicating. she may support repeal. Ensign's suggestion provides Dems with a bit more comfort, and increases the pressure on Reid to allow a full floor debate, even though it could chew up two weeks of precious time in the lame duck session.

The Washington Blade reported yesterday that an Ensign aide had indicated to gay advocates that the Senator would definitely vote for repeal. His spokesperson tells me that's inaccurate -- no decision has been made -- but Ensign's statement in the letter to constituents is a strong hint that he's laying the groundwork to support it.

Ensign's apparent willingness to support DADT repeal is also important because it hints at the larger political dynamics at play -- and why they favor repeal.

Ensign is up for reelection in 2012, and he may face a primary from the right, so his willingness to hint strongly at support are an indication that DADT is no longer a potent issue even among Republicans. Indeed, multiple polls have shown majorities of Republicans support repeal. Even Dick Cheney has said we need to reconsider the policy. Culture war politics have lost some of their bite on the right, as evidenced by the rise of the Tea Party, which is generally not all that preoccupied with social issues.

Sure, there's still cause for enormous skeptism that repeal will happen. But the only way it can happen is if the Dem leadership does everything it can to make it happen. Not over yet.

By Greg Sargent  | November 19, 2010; 1:45 PM ET
Categories:  Senate Dems, Senate Republicans, gay rights  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: How should Obama handle new, emboldened GOP?
Next: Joe Scarborough's suspension reveals how dumb NBC's policy is

Comments

Uh huh. Sure.

Lucy won't pull the ball away again! She wouldn't do that! Charlie Brown really wants to kick that darn ball and Lucy knows it! What kind of a jerk do you think Lucy is?

I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 19, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"...the Tea Party, which is generally not all that preoccupied with social issues."

I have never believed that. Because it isn't true.
Look at their candidates, say O'Donnell and Angle.
Look at Armey and DeMint. Look at their backers, follow the money.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 19, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

@Greg

You keep saying "vote for repeal", but really they only NEED Republican votes to overcome a cloture vote. There are easily 50 Dems that would vote for repeal at that point.

Don't allow yourself to do what Dems and the rest of the media does - assume there is a 60 vote requirement in the Senate. Doing so only hides the extraordinary abuse of the rules that the GOP has engaged in.

It's still good to see support building in some way. Big mo' and all. It would be fantastic if we saw the end to that discrimatory law by the end of the year.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | November 19, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Your point is well taken, but once you get past the 60 vote margin the rest is gravy.

After two years of this sort of thing, I'm not going to get my hopes up. I'm expecting a Dem collapse momentarily.

Posted by: Alex3 | November 19, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

OT

MSNBC Suspends Scarborough For Two Days Over Political Donations

http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/11/msnbc-suspends-scarborough-for-two-days-over-political-donations.php?ref=fpa

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 19, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Not to be overly cynical, but McCain is surely planning to talk to the same Repubs we are talking about now. Grumpy ain't done yet.

Posted by: Alex3 | November 19, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Obama has done enought to warrant being FIRED in 2012.


It is up to Obama to prove that impression wrong, and to give the American People a reason to vote for him.


His campaign slogans from 2008 don't do it. And Obama's job performance certainly doesn't do it either.


At this point, confrontation would be a failure of an issue for Obama.


Obama is on his way out the door. That much is clear, and it really doesn't matter much what he does if he is not going to drastically change.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 19, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I could care less what happens to DADT, START,or The Dream Act in this lame duck session. I think Obama's entire first term, and any possibility for a second term, resides with the middle class tax cut and just letting the upper 2% end expire. Any caving in, or significant compromise on this issue and he'll be a "dead man walking" for the next two years.

Posted by: filmnoia | November 19, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

The democrats should be careful on this - they don't have close to the 60 votes they need.

I would not count on Joe Manchin to vote on ANY part of Obama's liberal agenda - and it is ridiculous to think he will.


The democrats have 14 Senate democrats who are up for election in 2012 - I really don't believe tough votes are what they want to do in this atmosphere.


But, go ahead, damage the democratic party further.


I don't care.


.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 19, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I agree filmnoia that the tax cuts are huge but START is also for the lame duck session. The tax cuts can actually wait since the Bush cuts expire without action and the President can simply veto anything the next Congress passes (OK, simply may be a little naive). START needs 67 votes in a straight up or down vote, tax cuts only need 50.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 19, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

This is why the White House matters so much.

"Justice Antonin Scalia told an adoring audience at the Federalist Society convention Thursday night..."

I couldn't care less about Barak Obama. There is a big picture. The *culture war* is what Fox, The Right and the TP are all about. Neither party is capable of dealing with the economy, after all, they have their hands and feet in the trough. The SCOTUS is another matter.

Posted by: shrink2 | November 19, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

This is a sad ending to a once great party, the Democratic party, that in it's last, viable days, it is going out in a puff of pink smoke, scraping and groveling for a few miserable votes to empower a tiny minority of sexually disoriented people to flaunt their homosexual prevarications in the ranks of America's great and mighty military.

We are being forced into becoming another French fried, Euro-weenie, military has-been by the Obamanation.

Next thing you know, the Obamaniacs will be trying to grant mass amnesty and free, American citizenship to the hordes of outlaw invaders that continue to scoff at all our immigration laws.

What?! They're doing that too?!

No wonder Obama and his 'crats got cremated in the mid-terms. They're as crazy as the bedbugs being carried in by the illegals.

Posted by: battleground51 | November 19, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe this is even an issue. How is it that Congress is even considering addressing this when the tax bill for everyone is going up in just a few weeks? I'm lucky enough that it won't hurt me, but it will hurt the businesses that I spend extra money with. If DADT passes, but the tax bill goes up, expect every Democratic (and Repub) congressman that voted for it to get hammered at re-election.

The priorities are so screwed up it's pathetic.

Posted by: Bailers | November 19, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Greg, you're not really this gullible are you? Do you actually believe ANY repub will go against what they've been told to do by their senior management? Really? Why?

Posted by: mwamp | November 19, 2010 3:10 PM | Report abuse

The best thing that George Bush did in his eight years was getting two solid citizens and scholars on the Supreme Court.

But Obama, true to form, installed two nattering, scheming, left-wing radicals in return.

It is Obama's revenge.

Now when Obama is given the bum's rush in 2012, the Republican who replaces him will be obligated to nominate real, right-wingers to the S.C.

By that time, Republicans will be able to rubber-stamp any nomination by their overwhelming majorities in Senate and House.

And it will be Obama's fault for not nominating normal, mainstream candidates when he had the chance.

Obama will be the gift that keeps on giving......to Republicans, long after he is gone.

Posted by: battleground51 | November 19, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

All, my take on Joe Scarborough's suspension:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/11/msnbcs_dumb_policy.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 19, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree with bailers. The priorities here are completely screwed up.

the nation's economy is not performing well and the technocrats in DC, who cannot pay their own taxes, keep trying macro fixes that keep failing. Meanwhile the unemployment rate remains at levels that are lethal to Obama and any who support him.

The citizenry is in open revolt. The TSA issue is merely the lightning rod for the discharge of American anger in the general direction of their Federal government. congress weenied out and stopped having meetings with mere citizens. The paid employees can't do that. IMHO we will see quite a bit more civil and not so civil disobedience in the future.

The government itself no longer has the respect of the citizens. Charlie Rangel's whining and bleating are the paradigmn for this. He's the chair of ways and means and can't comply with laws he helped pass. Somehow the public is supposed to over look this because gay "rights" is such a huge overbearing issue? Huh?

there are a couple of historical analogies that come to mind: Fiddling while Rome burns. Rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic. Take your pick.

so yeah. Come out fighting Obama. Fight for those gays in the military. The American public, I'm sure, will see that this is far more important than just about anything else mere citizens could be concerned with.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 19, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Sure ... right wing radical good ... moderate liberal ... bad. With Scalia, Alito and Roberts on the Court, we have Justices that not only overturn longstanding moderate precedent as in Citizens United, they also overtly politicize their positions.

You really need to quit watching FOX.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 19, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

If Conservatives are upset that too much time is being spent on DADT, then stop blocking and slowing down a vote on it. Let it come to the floor and see if it gets 50 votes. It will be quick and we can move on.
You don't get to demand everything have 60 votes, slow things down in committees, and any number of procedure stunts and at the same time complain that time is being wasted.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 19, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

OK, so let me be sure I have this right. If the question is priorities then the correct thing for conservatives to do is to cave to every leftie demand until they get around to bringing up the important stuff. Right?

this is a win/win for the right. The obstruction of this kind of nonsense is exactly what the electorate wanted when they voted mere days ago. But wait, there is more, the Democrats in DC give their opposition yet another weapon. They can hammer away on the Democrats who spend time on DADT while more important issues were ignored.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 19, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Greg,
Two points that will come up.
First, he's leaning but "given the Air Force and Marines Corps opposition, I cannot support it." AKA the McCain Retreat
Second, "while I support it in theory, the procedural moves used by Sen. Reid forced me to vote against it." AKA the Snowe/Collins Duck-and-Cover.

Watch for one or both to be deployed.

Posted by: ctown_woody | November 19, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

"Greg, you're not really this gullible are you? Do you actually believe ANY repub will go against what they've been told to do by their senior management? Really? Why? Posted by: mwamp"

Maybe because DADT is still attached to the DOD Budget and if that doesn't get passed the troops don't get paid?

DADT is what is officially holding up the DOD budget bill. It hasn't been divorced from the bill and right now only the Republican Filibuster stands between the troops and their pay. And there isn't time to divorce the bill from DADT and send it back to the House for a vote so the Senate can vote on it. If the Congress goes home today for Thanksgiving, and returned 1 December, they have maybe 14 working days to get whatever gets voted on voted on. After Christmas is way too late.

The Heroine is tied to the tracks and the train is coming. No white hat on a white horse and no convenient switch available to save the day.

Cue the Dudley Do-right theme.

Posted by: ceflynline | November 19, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Skip- "OK, so let me be sure I have this right. If the question is priorities then the correct thing for conservatives to do is to cave to every leftie demand until they get around to bringing up the important stuff. Right?"

Yeah, I think that's a direct quote from my post and the posts of other Liberals here. Alternatively, you are engaging in another dishonest reframing of the question.

You don't have to cave, just allow a vote on it. How is allowing Congress to vote on something caving? If I am to follow your post, a Party caves anytime they allow a vote to occur on something they disagree with.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 19, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

what is the difference? the republicans don't have a majority, therefore they must behave exactly as the Democrats did when they were the minority.

these procedural games are part of the political process.

so basically I didn't mischaracterize your position at all. I clarified it.

In the meantime the senate is considering DADT while the economy stagnates, the citizenry engages in open revolt and the credibility of government continues to sink.

I guess the priority process that places the gay agenda ahead of larger problems appeals to the hard left. OK fine. go with it. 2012 is just around the corner.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 19, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

THE HUMANE CIVILITY EQUALITY MOVEMENT ( HCEM PARTY ), PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS BECAUSE YOURS IS NEXT TO GO VERY SOON (BLACKS/ FEMALES/ DISABLED/ ALL OTHER RACES/ NOT WHITE (NORDIC) ENOUGH @100% etc (ADA BIOLOGICAL GENETIC VARIANTS) EVERYONE'S 25TH COUSINS ANYWAY. US CITIZENS MUST BE REMINDED BY CHANTING: OLD JIM CROW MUST GO, RELIGION IS NO EXCUSE FOR INHUMANE TREATMENT OF OTHERS, (HATE CRIMES/ PEDOPHILE SET-UPS/ HARASSMENT , DENIAL OF EDUCATION , HOUSING AND EMPLOYMENT [ IN BOTH GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE SECTORS] )

I GREATLY APPLAUD THE QUEEN OF THE UNITED KINGDOM GLOBAL INITIATIVE STANCE ON IMPROVING THE HUMAN CONDITION WHICH ALSO INCLUDES SAME SEXERS FROM INHUMAN TREATMENT AND LIVING CONDITIONS, OF WHICH SHE ANNOUNCED AT THE UN ON HER USA VISIT RECENTLY, WHICH IS HUMANE CIVILITY AT IT'S FINEST, WOULD THAT PRIME MINISTER REFUSE TO SHAKE THE QUEEN' HAND ALSO BECAUSE SHE'S FEMALE?, RELIGION IS NO EXCUSE TO BE INHUMAN PERIOD.

Posted by: shaiarra | November 19, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

ALL US CITIZENS HAVE THE CIVIL RIGHT IS SERVE IN THE MILITARY " USA OATH OF ALLEGIANCE," 8 C.F.R. Part 337 (2008))

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion;

* allegiance to the United States Constitution,
* renunciation of allegiance to any foreign country to which the immigrant has had previous allegiances to
* defense of the Constitution against enemies "foreign and domestic"

* promise to serve in the United States Armed Forces when required by law (either combat or non-combat)

* promise to perform civilian duties of "national importance" when required by law

Posted by: shaiarra | November 19, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

The votes are there. My guess is there will be 8-10 Republicans for repeal and 4-5 Democrats against and the final vote will be in the neighborhood of 63-37.

If these folks support repeal, the ENDA is a sure thing - if the Democratic House (as Nancy Pelosi says she will do) votes on this in lame duck.

The Pols aren't stupid. Ted Olson wouldn't take Prop 8 if he KNEW FOR SURE HE HAD THE SUPREME COURT VOTES. I know he does, Ted Olson knows he does, Pols know he does. The groundwork has to be all in place (Hate Crimes, DADT and ENDA) for same sex marriage and the Republicans can claim ten years from now that gay rights was a bi-partisan thing.

Posted by: robbygtx | November 19, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Ensign must figure that if nobody else will vote for him, maybe the gays will....

Posted by: thrh | November 19, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

"The best thing that George Bush did in his eight years was getting two solid citizens and scholars on the Supreme Court.

But Obama, true to form, installed two nattering, scheming, left-wing radicals in return.

It is Obama's revenge.

Now when Obama is given the bum's rush in 2012, the Republican who replaces him will be obligated to nominate real, right-wingers to the S.C.

By that time, Republicans will be able to rubber-stamp any nomination by their overwhelming majorities in Senate and House.

And it will be Obama's fault for not nominating normal, mainstream candidates when he had the chance.

Obama will be the gift that keeps on giving......to Republicans, long after he is gone.

Posted by: battleground51 | November 19, 2010 3:22 PM"

Not sure what you're smoking, but I don't think I want any. Talk about weird hallucinations!

Posted by: thrh | November 19, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Battleground51 posted:

"This is a sad ending to a once great party, the Democratic party, that in it's last, viable days, it is going out in a puff of pink smoke, scraping and groveling for a few miserable votes to empower a tiny minority of sexually disoriented people to flaunt their homosexual prevarications in the ranks of America's great and mighty military.

We are being forced into becoming another French fried, Euro-weenie, military has-been by the Obamanation.

Next thing you know, the Obamaniacs will be trying to grant mass amnesty and free, American citizenship to the hordes of outlaw invaders that continue to scoff at all our immigration laws.

What?! They're doing that too?!

No wonder Obama and his 'crats got cremated in the mid-terms. They're as crazy as the bedbugs being carried in by the illegals."

1. There are, and had been for the entire history of the United States, gays and lesbians serving with honor and distinction in the military. They serve to protect you and I. Your idiotic comments not only insults them but all Americans.

2. Show this forum proof to back up your wild claim that immigrants are responsible for the bedbug infestation. If you don't, then you're another hateful loudmouth.

Posted by: Herc2 | November 20, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

what is the difference? the republicans don't have a majority, therefore they must behave exactly as the Democrats did when they were the minority.

these procedural games are part of the political process.

so basically I didn't mischaracterize your position at all. I clarified it.

--------------------------------------

Thanks skip, next time I'm unsure of what I mean, I'll be sure to come to you for clarification.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | November 22, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

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