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'Jack Squat' Obama

Some folks are pointing to a response from Gen. James L. Jones, the National Security Adviser, to CNN interviewer John King's question about don't ask don't tell on Sunday as evidence that President Obama won't fulfill his promise to end the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. I've followed this very closely, and I just don't think the criticism is warranted -- yet.

Acknowledging that the presidential plate overfloweth, Jones said, "I know this is an issue that he intends to take on at the appropriate time. And he has already signaled that to the Defense Department. The Defense Department is doing the things it has to do to prepare, but at the right time, I'm sure the president will take it on."


There are two things Jones said that are not being given due consideration. First, Jones said Obama "has already signaled that to the defense department." "That" being an end to the foolish policy that deprives the United States of able men and women who want to serve their country. Second, Jones notes, "The Defense Department is doing the things it has to do to prepare...." I know of two White House meetings in which the president made it clear to Defense Secretary Robert Gates that he wanted an end to the ban.

Exactly when to make the grand (and long-overdue) move has always been the tough part. Obama believes that Congress should repeal the law. But he also knows that bringing the military along first is essential. Without it, Congress could at best block attempts to repeal the law or at worse approve something much worse. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) is working hard to get the support of his House colleagues to repeal "don't ask don't tell."

But this takes time -- and patience. And patience on this issue and a host of others is increasingly in short supply. Just how short was on devastating display in the opening skit of the season premier of "Saturday Night Live," when Fred Armisen as Obama said, "[W]hen you look at my record, it's very clear what I've done so far -- and that is nothing... Nada.... Almost one year and nothing new to show for it....''

The skit made me sit up and pay attention because this is the same show that was perceived to be in Obama's corner through the primaries and the general election. When your "friends" start talking about you like this -- and friends with a huge megaphone and a feel for the national mood -- the White House should listen.

The president has set many of the wheels in motion to bring about a resolution to some of the things on his long to-do list, or at least to ameliorate a few situations (read: Afghanistan). But the man who ran on change is discovering that folks don't care much about the deliberative process. They want results, and they want them now. Unfortunately, I'm not quite sure what Obama can do to calm everyone down.

By Jonathan Capehart  | October 5, 2009; 7:17 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

Maybe all this criticism over getting nothing done is a good reason for Obama to get don't ask don't tell repealed right now. Both the public and the military are already behind a repeal, and it's by far the easiest thing on his plate.

Posted by: Itzajob | October 5, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Itzajob, very true, and let's hope he does this soon.

Posted by: nparsons13 | October 5, 2009 11:14 PM | Report abuse

I think Obama is far too dismissive of the rights of gay and lesbian and Hispanic people. His lack of leadership on DADT is no different than his lack of leadership on Immigration Reform ... or maybe, he doesn't lead because he really doesn't care.

Posted by: paris1969 | October 6, 2009 12:28 AM | Report abuse

You aren't sure what he can do about changing that impression that he has done very little, in fact, nearly nothing, since getting elected? He could try following through on a few of his campaign promises instead of finding reasons to delay implementation or reversing himself. Obama has forgotten his base, and his base is leaving him.

Posted by: johnsonc2 | October 6, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

What this commentator is saying about just one of Obama's campaign promises is true of all his campaign promises, he han't done anything... yet.

He hasn't really said anything specific about his plans for healthcare reform.

He hasn't imposed the kind of regulation on banks that would prevent another subprime meltdown.

He hasn't articulated a policy about Afghanistan but he's hiring at least 50 new AID employees through just one government contractor alone. AID jobs are what Johnson used to call "pacification" in Vietnam and what General Lonsdale, the fictiional character in novel, "The Ugly American" (whom some thought was patterned after Maj. Gen. Lonsdale) was doing in Vietnam. Since I am not privy to the total picture, I haven't any idea how many other jobs he has created in Afghanistan, but I think with a depression here, those jobs should be doing something about the people here instead of in Afghanistan.

Obama has not done a thing except talk, talk, talk.

Americans are not all Inside-the-Beltway policy wonks like the people who go around pretending to do something day after day in Washington. They're going to conclude, like the Post's Richard Cohen finally did in his column a few days ago, that the Emperor is not visiting his tailor, if you know what I mean. Pretty soon, we'll look up and he won't have new clothes.

Posted by: eyemakeupneeded1 | October 6, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Is there no one in the White House who can remind/tell/educate Obama that he was elected to be a leader and not a negotiator?

Bush made a fool of himself by declaring that he was "The Decider."

Part of the foolishness came from having the President of the United States feeling the need to state the obvious: that he is the one, above all others, who makes the decisions.

Obama seems genetically incapable of decision making. Not a good trait in a President.

(And I worked for his election.)

Posted by: WhatHeSaid | October 6, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Obama is a very smart man. Maybe he knows something we don't. But from where I sit it seems that he's too interested in working with Republicans. He seems to think that if he's nice enough to them they will somehow cooperate with him.

So far that cooperative spirit has resulted in him being called a Nazi and being ridiculed even for trying to bring the $$ from the Olympics to America.

When your opposition is calling you a Nazi and yelling 'you lie' during a speech before Congress there's no real point anymore in trying to cooperate with them.

Yes, but what about moderate Republicans?

They've been strangely silent as their brethren attack Obama. How many called out the birthers and the "Obama Nazi" nutcases? Very few, that's how many.

Posted by: Hillman1 | October 6, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

So what!

Who cares about gays in the military when the US is losing servicemen and women just about everyday during the two wars we are now fighting.

What difference does it make when they all bleed red blood and are willing to die for this country.

Posted by: MUPPET | October 6, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Wow, it took a skit on SNL for this crack "journalist" to actually maybe be a reporter? Obama has really done nothing and hopefully that becomes the pattern for the rest of his one term.

I could care less about gays in the military. I would just posit for ol Johnny boy though, that Obama was supposed to be able to do more than one thing at one time. Wasn't that the raison d'etre and the excuse du jour from his sycophants for shilling at the Olympics instead of dealing with Afghanistan?

Maybe the reason Obama isn't doing anything about gays is cuz he doesn't like them and doesn't want to. Ever think about that?

Posted by: bandmom22 | October 6, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

that's what America gets for electing a do-nothing, sweet talking corporate arse .

Posted by: tru-indy | October 6, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

The stimulus bill passed at the beginning of the administration accomplished so many policy objectives and fulfilled or started fulfilling so many campaign promises, that it alone should stop the "jack squat" idea except for one thing: somehow, it wasn't sold or perceived that way.

It was sold as primarily a stimulus bill that just happened to have lots of moving parts:

-- relief for the worst aspects of the crisis (e.g., unemployment benefits, aid to state governments to limit further teacher, hospital, and police and fire layoffs, all over a full two years and still an important aid to state budgets)

-- tax cuts for 95 percent of working families, which hit paychecks last April and have continued ever since

-- stimulus spending on traditional public works such as bridges (including bridge repair and safety improvements), roads, water and sewage treatment, and public transportation, all of which is underway and will continue another year

-- some more modern public works, like retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency, upgrading school buildings, and medical and other scientific research projects

-- federal investments in future growth, including renewable energy research, conversion to electronic medical records, smart electrical grid, and broadband Internet for rural areas, among others

If you look at that list, this could have been listed as a dozen or more achievements and could have taken years to accomplish. Every part of it was needed. But the latter part -- the major investments and changes for the future -- just didn't get emphasized at the time, and are treated as surprise news stories as they roll out now (like the recent award to NIH, right from this bill) rather than as part of a big story. Perhaps all these achievements were downplayed for some political strategic reason, or just couldn't break through the media buzz about the partisan maneuvering at the time, but that communications outcome is causing a problem now.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | October 6, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

He hasn't taken the easiest step, which would be to put a freeze on all Don't Ask Don't Tell cases until the issue is resolved. There's no reason for us to continue to lose valuable military assets simply because "the timing isn't right" on DADT.

Posted by: jrzwrld | October 6, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

@Itzajob

I highly doubt the military is in favor of repealing the "don't ask" policy. it will undermine moral.

Posted by: neversaylie | October 6, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

go bandmom22

Posted by: bruce18 | October 6, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Jack Squat is very appropriate for our delusional, clueless President. His lack of experience, management skills, leadership ability is now setting the US on a very dangerous course, one of ecnomic collapse and turning us into a third world socialist state. There are no JOBS. Obama and congress are spending trillions of dollars on pork. Meanwhile, the egregious Cap & Trade and Obama care will present Americans with the largest tax increase in history.

Obama has denigrated our military and CIA. Opened our borders to terrorist, and has filled his adminstration with merry miscreants hell bent on establishing a dictatorship rather than adhering to our Constitution.

Wake up, America. Obama is taking your life away!

Posted by: magsthecat1 | October 6, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Neversaylie, why would you say that? The polls say otherwise, and younger servicepeople are substantially in favor of a repeal.

Posted by: Itzajob | October 6, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Obama will be speaking at the HRC fundraiser this weekend. When he makes us yet another promise that he will work for LBGT rights, I hope they all have the nerve to stand up and shout, "you lie!"

Posted by: DCCharles | October 6, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

NeverSayLie....Are you saying you have no faith in government polls? Itsajob....Until you have lived in a 15x20 room stacked with 30 Marines or shared a shower with 60 at a time.....Please don't quote polls or surveys. Marines will do what they are told to do.....but it will have a negative impact.

Posted by: TXTrainWreck | October 6, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I believe we find ourselves in a time when the law has become so difficult to work with that nothing can happen. I think Bush and Cheney understood one thing, 'if you want something to happen, you make it happen'. They made things happen, why can't Obama?

Posted by: brianb7 | October 6, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

For those who may have forgotten, it's called a "lie" and its practitioners are called "liars."

HTH,

m

Posted by: MichaelATX | October 6, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

WhatHeSaid wrote:
Obama seems genetically incapable of decision making. Not a good trait in a President. (And I worked for his election.)

I could have written that and I busted my hump for his election. MY President needs to grow a pair!

Posted by: willandjansdad1 | October 6, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: neversaylie
I highly doubt the military is in favor of repealing the "don't ask" policy. it will undermine moral.

I don't know. My USMC son doesn't really give a rat's azz if someone's gay as long as they know how to kill when necessary and don't "hit on" him.

Posted by: willandjansdad1 | October 6, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm starting to think that the problem with America isn't in Washington after all -- I think it's really just Americans. How is it that when there's finally a guy in the White House who's willing to listen to both sides, there's nothing but contempt? I don't think Americans even want to bridge the gap anymore -- they just want to get their man in and have him unilaterally and relentlessly shift policy to the right or left.

For people on the left, consider this: four years ago, you were living under threat of having gay marriage banned at the constitutional level. Are you afraid of that today? You're closer than you've been in 30 years to getting health care reform. Maybe it's not exactly what you wanted, but did you really think that winning the White House by a small plurality entitled you to carte blanche control of the nation?

For people on the right: Nobody came to take your guns or your bibles, and Obama isn't cramming gay marriage down your throats, is he? Remember the public option that you hated so much? It's been removed for your sake. Consider that you don't control the White House or Congress, and yet you're still given a voice, which is a luxury the left didn't have between 2000-2008. Instead, you're practically livid that the democrats aren't in lock-step and pushing their agenda through without a second thought. How dare they consider your side of the argument?

As for the Olympics, I'm amazed that nobody seems to have considered that Obama might have actually gone to genuinely lobby the IOC for something that would be beneficial to the US, even at the risk of coming back empty-handed. To listen to all of the griping, you'd think that Americans only want a leader that will fight for something if he's assured success. Is that really what we think? Consider for a moment how pathetic that is.

After living through the divisiveness of Bush for eight years, you'd think people on the left AND the right would have some appreciation for a President who doesn't delight in impenitently writing off the opinions of the half of the nation he doesn't personally side with, but I guess you just can't make friends with either side by living in the center. I think a better conclusion to this article is that the man who ran on change is starting to discover that we're generally a nation of fickle children incapable of patience or compromise.

Posted by: ponkey | October 6, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I actually found the SNL skit comforting. I was upset that after eight months in power, the Obama Administration and the overwhelmingly Democratic Congress hadn't fulfilled any of Obama's campaign promises to gays and lesbians. I assumed this meant that Obama was throwing gays and lesbians under the bus. Now I see that Obama actually hasn't fulfilled any of his campaign promises to anyone.

It feels good to be treated the same as everybody else, for once.

Posted by: equalrights | October 6, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a very smart man. Maybe he knows something we don't. But from where I sit it seems that he's too interested in working with Republicans. He seems to think that if he's nice enough to them they will somehow cooperate with him.

So far that cooperative spirit has resulted in him being called a Nazi and being ridiculed even for trying to bring the $$ from the Olympics to America.

When your opposition is calling you a Nazi and yelling 'you lie' during a speech before Congress there's no real point anymore in trying to cooperate with them.

Yes, but what about moderate Republicans?

They've been strangely silent as their brethren attack Obama. How many called out the birthers and the "Obama Nazi" nutcases? Very few, that's how many.

Posted by: Hillman1 | October 6, 2009 8:06 AM
==================================
I hate to say it but your post doesn't standd up to the facts.

1. Obama has claimed bipartisanship but is openly governing from the very far left.

2. Democrats have a supermajority. They even changed Mass law AGAIN to ensure it. Democrats can get anything passed and republicans can't stop it. However not ALL of the democrats are far left so they can't get things passed.

Posted by: Cryos | October 6, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Cryos,

People keep saying this, but it makes no sense.

1. Obama is taking a great deal of criticism from the left precisely because he's *not* embracing the traditional far-left agenda (i.e. gay marriage, abortion rights, gun control). In all fairness, how can this be called 'openly governing from the very far left'?

2. When senators and representatives do their jobs correctly, having a supermajority does not mean the party agenda gets railroaded through congress. The gridlock you see in the senate today is the result of caution and deliberation winning out over party loyalty. We really ought to admire the fact that a supermajority doesn't lead to rubber-stamped legislation, but instead we just see it as a political opportunity to game the next election.

Posted by: ponkey | October 6, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

The problem with Obama isn't that he is willing to negotiate. It's that he starts out where he is willing to end up and the GOP pushes back from there. It happened by offering ineffective tax cuts in the stimulus package and it's happened with healthcare reform (wasn't the public option supposed to be the more acceptable alternative to extending Medicare to the rest of the population?). For what? One GOP vote? Good grief.

Here's a tip for Rahm: "Don't waste a crisis" is great advice but so is "don't waste a screaming opposition". The Right is already screaming at the top of their lungs. Why waste this virulent opposition --this hate and hostility -- on incremental proposals?

(Oh, since the President is headlining the Human Rights Campaign's annual dinner this week, here's a gripe about language: When it comes to gay rights how does a talented writer like Obama come to describe himself as a "fierce advocate for gay rights"? Wow. Being he Proponent-in-Chief of a "Separate but Equal Doctrine" for gay marital rights is "fierce" advocacy for gay rights? Sort of like Lester Maddox's fierce advocacy for civil rights through segregation? (And this in the 50th Anniversary year of Brown v. Board of Ed.!) Uh-huh, sure.

The Audacity of Hesitation, the fierce urgency of later. Jack and Squat indeed.

Posted by: kjcape | October 6, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I seriously doubt if very many really important assets are being lost due to the “don’t ask and don’t tell” policy. More real assets will be lost due to openly gay men joining and hitting on the straights not wanting to be a part of it.

Now, on the other hand, we may get a few more masculine female warrior assets that are worth their salt in a wartime scrap!

Posted by: longbow65 | October 6, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

ponkey wrote:
“….I think a better conclusion to this article is that the man who ran on change is starting to discover that we're generally a nation of fickle children incapable of patience or compromise.”
======================================

You are just kidding, right? A general compromise in policy and this country would be socialized with no citizen control whatsoever. Every thing that is presented is so far left that there can be no compromise without loosing to government control completely! That plan is pretty obvious.

Posted by: longbow65 | October 6, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Well, let's see. Nine months into Bush's first term, our government under his administration didn't connect the dots and thousands of US citizens died.

I'm not concerned in the least that some perceive Obama as having "done nothing" to date. Let's have this discussion in two years.

Posted by: RobertaHigginbotham | October 7, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

May be the time is approaching when people will realize that George Bush was not all that bad, after all, and the change that he somehow triggered, was a change for the worse.

Posted by: grooves12 | October 7, 2009 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Turning America's military PINK is just what Obama should do......if he wants to be a one-termer like his hero Jimmy Carter.

That's one of the issues that very nearly sunk Bill Clinton in the early '90s. That and massive, socialized, health care.

The only things that saved Clinton from the one-term curse was Ross Perot, a weak Republican candidate, and the fact that he turned into a Republican real fast.

If Obama hates the military like most liberals, he will turn it gay. Our only hope is that another election cycle is just around the corner. Not a moment too soon!

Posted by: battleground51 | October 7, 2009 6:38 AM | Report abuse

Every thing that is presented is so far left that there can be no compromise without loosing to government control completely!

--------

That's just your ridiculous exaggeration. Obviously over half the nation disagrees with you. Compromise doesn't mean you get everything you want, it means you find some middle ground with a whole lot of people who happen to think you're totally wrong. Your statement boils down to a foot-stamping 'I don't care, I will not compromise'. If that's the case, I sincerely hope that you and your opinions are ejected from the process and that it moves on without any consideration of you whatsoever.

Obama still seems interested in keeping everybody on board, and that is the single reason things are moving so slowly. I admire that he's trying to do it, but if it were me, I'd probably tell you to take a hike (and I'd be a bad, Bush-style President for it).

Posted by: ponkey | October 7, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Criticism that Obama has done nothing so far reflects the U.S. motto: "I want it now!"

As I see it, we benefit when we are working with change we can accept. That takes time and commitment. We need to ease into it or we won't accept it and it will cause conflict.

We have enough conflict over the issues on Obama's overflowing plate. We can force him to make the right decisions by getting involved or we can gripe and complain.

Posted by: goodgovernment | October 7, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Criticism that Obama has done nothing so far reflects the U.S. motto: "I want it now!"

As I see it, we benefit when we are working with change we can accept. That takes time and commitment. We need to ease into it or we won't accept it and it will cause conflict.

We have enough conflict over the issues on Obama's overflowing plate. We can force him to make the right decisions by getting involved or we can gripe and complain.

Posted by: goodgovernment | October 7, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Obama is not interested in keeping promises to anyone. His objective is to grab as much power, control, and money as fast as he can.

I suggest you take a look at how he and the State Department are handling Honduras to see what his goal post is.

I understand the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is important to you. However, try looking at the big picture of what is going on in this country and D.C.

If Obama and his Czars and Chicago buddies get their way you won't have to worry about gays in military because he is going to take every freedom he can from everyone, period!

Posted by: TruthSeeker24 | October 7, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Wow - someone give TruthSeeker24, magsthecat1 and longbow65 a chill pill and enroll them in Birther rehab. Did these people just crawl out from a rock they were living under for the last 8 years? These wingnuts make any reasoned discourse impossible.

These people think Obama is an extreme left, authoritarian president who's ruined the economy and is taking away our freedoms. Does Obama not understand that it's not possible to negotiate with people who live in an alternate reality of their own (and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck's) making?

Posted by: sambam | October 7, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Obama is not interested in keeping promises to anyone. His objective is to grab as much power, control, and money as fast as he can.

------

Come on, think with your head for a second and justify this. So you think he's after money? You think he really just wants more power, and his diabolical master plan is to overhaul health care and allow gays in the military? Is that your theory? Because you sound like the crazy old guy on the corner with a house full of cats if that's your theory.

I'd ask what on earth you're referring to with regard to Honduras, but I honestly can't picture getting a credible answer.

Posted by: ponkey | October 7, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Ponkey wrote: "I'm starting to think that the problem with America isn't in Washington after all -- I think it's really just Americans."
======================================

Wow, that's quite a statement. Ponkey doesn't like pesky Americans getting in the way of Obama's agenda and trying to get what they want. That's the problem with that whole 'government of the people for the people' thing. Ponkey, perhaps you could begin the movement to do away with the Constitution.

Posted by: gardedgarton | October 7, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

gardedgarton,

I don't think people who are dragging their feet out of misinformation and stubborn pride have any business hiding behind the Constitution. I realize it's taboo to ever point the finger at the mighty American Citizen, but the truth is, the country, by and large, is acting like a spoiled five year old.

You're free to agree or disagree with Obama, and you're free to vote for or against him. But when your only intention is to remain utterly misinformed and lower the level of discourse to that of death panels and 'Oh no! The government has cooties!', your rightful place is on the sideline and out of everybody's way. It isn't simply the right of the American people to govern themselves, it's also their responsibility. What I see today is a lot of people shirking that responsibility in order to pacify their egos and their willful ignorance. It's especially infuriating when they do it while cowering behind the Constitution.

Posted by: ponkey | October 7, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

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