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Don't ask don't tell and Obama's comments on immigration

President Obama made his way to the press section of Air Force One yesterday. Perhaps he got lost looking for an extra blanket or some water. Anyway, he mused aloud about immigration. But I found his remarks also instructive for the increasingly spirited push to get the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military repealed by Congress. The gay community won't like the implications. But it bears repeating that getting rid of don't ask don't tell was never going to be easy. It was never going to be as simple as Obama telling lawmakers what he wants done and how to do it.

As with ending don't ask don't tell, Obama wants Congress to move on immigration reform. But on immigration he acknowledged uncertainty over whether lawmakers have the "appetite" to do so. Now, here's the key quote. "So it's a matter of political will," Obama said. "Now, look, we've gone through a very tough year, and I've been working Congress pretty hard. So I know there may not be an appetite immediately to dive into another controversial issue. There's still work that has to be done on energy. Midterms are coming up.”

Ending don't ask don't tell ranks up there as "another controversial issue." It's a controversial social issue whose politics requires the precision of a drill team. Hence, the careful orchestration of the hearings where Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared their support for ending the ban. Hence, the study to figure out what to do once Congress takes action. But there's understandable concern that Obama is the one who doesn't have the appetite to push Capitol Hill harder to take it on by including the repeal in the must-pass defense authorization bill.

Look, as Obama said, "[I]t's a matter of political will." And the best way to get Congress -- and the White House -- to find it on don't ask don't tell is to ramp up the more sophisticated action that has begun. Chaining yourself to the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or yelling at the president is a little predictable. What's needed are more actions like that taken by the Phoenix Five (Meg Sneed, Jimmy Gruender, Lee Walters, (Lonnie) Allen Howard-Stidham and Luisa Valdez) who were arrested Monday for refusing to leave Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) district office after they were denied a meeting with him to discuss his stance on don't ask don't tell.

Now, just imagine that happening at the district offices of the members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.

By Jonathan Capehart  | April 29, 2010; 9:42 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Next: Gordon Brown's campaign disaster

Comments

President Obama said in his SOTU address that he would work for the repeal of DADT THIS YEAR! Now all of a sudden it's off the table... so if republicans take back Congress in the midterms you can just forget about it being repealed for another dozen or so years...

Posted by: TidusNVA | April 29, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who wants a politically sophisticated analysis of the DADT situation, instead ofJonathan's manipulative White House spin, should read John Arovosis' discussion of this pathetic commentary. http://gay.americablog.com/2010/04/its-extremely-difficult-to-win-on-hill.html

I'm sorry to see Jonathan become a complete shill for his president.

Posted by: uh_huhh | April 29, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

TidusNVA,

it's NOT a matter of IF the DIMocRATS lose BOTH houses of the Congress. the DIMocRATS will lose BOTH houses in November, by a landslide that makes the sea-change of '94 look small.

the DIMocRATS have RUINED any chance of remaining in the majority by passing "healthcare reform", against the desires of 2/3 of the American voters.- FACT!
(even the liberal "talking heads" of the leftist media are beginning to admit that the more that Americans learn about BHO's "healthcare reform" the less that they approve of it.)

after December of this year, what BHO wants/feels/thinks will be IRRELEVANT, as he will get NO MORE of his nitwittery & LEFTIST agenda passed. NONE!
(BHO should spend the remainder of his one term figuring out what he will do, as a failed former POTUS, after he leaves office in Jan 2013.)

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | April 30, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Of course repealing DADT is difficult, but one of the main reasons it's difficult is Obama.

Posted by: DCCharles | April 30, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

to all DIMocRATS; LIBs; all,

haven't you figured out YET that the WRONG Obama is POTUS?

BHO is INCAPABLE,childish, UNqualified, EMPTY-headed, foolish,INCOMPETENT & UNable to "string together" two complete sentences, when his teleprompter breaks down.- in one word, he's just PATHETIC!
(at age 63, i naver thought that i'd live to see a person in the WH, who makes Jimmy Carter look SMART & Richard Nixon look HONEST. sadly, i was wrong.)

Michelle, otoh, is NONE of those things.

laughing AT "America's embarrassment".

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | April 30, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

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