false hope

Is It Time Politicians Stop Promising They Can Kill DADT Anytime Soon?

Politicians make a lot of promises during their campaigns, because that is how they get voters to the polls, tricking them into thinking a single elected official actually has that much sway to gut the bureaucratic machine to enact much change. And when that change does happen? I like to think it’s as much luck (or at least, God’s will) and the ability to get cable news on your side as it is doing the right thing by your constituents. But after they are elected, politicians keep making promises. What stupids. See: Nancy Pelosi.

The House speaker just got done saying a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal will get done by the end of 2010. “I don’t have any doubt that ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ will be a memory by the end of this year,” she said yesterday. It was enough to please the gays, who might get off her back long enough to leave her alone on Harvey Milk Day. But it’s this type of guarantee that inevitably causes trouble.

Just like Joe Solmonese’s exact same promise, uh, promises to sink what’s left of his reputation, if Nancy’s end-of-year DADT repeal goes awry, we’re all going to look back at her statement and point our fingers, screaming “LIAR!!!”

But what else do ya want? We keep arguing these politicians need to heed our calls for enacting equality, or else. (Or else we’ll cut off funding. Or else we’ll support a challenger. Or else we’ll complain on blogs.) So when they finally do listen up, they tell us things we want to hear. Like DADT being on its last legs and we’ll have reason to celebrate by Christmas. But Pelosi can’t guarantee this. While she might have the power to help Rep. Patrick Murphy’s bill get a full vote, she doesn’t have any control over the Senate Armed Services Committee, where despite Chairman Sen. Carl Levin’s best efforts, pressure mounts to keep DADT on the books until the Pentagon finishes its study — a timeline that matures after the November elections, when many Democrats will lose their seats in both houses of Congress, and any such promises become a moot point.

So here we have Pelosi doing exactly what we asked: promising to end DADT sooner rather than later. And we might very well force her to regret it.