get 'er done

The 6 Major Obstacles to Joe Lieberman’s DADT Repeal Hobby

Is Sen. Joe Lieberman, the White House’s Senate pointman on a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal, just being honest? Or cynical? He says he’s “not kidding myself” about getting a repeal done this year, on the eve of introducing legislation to do just that. So what’s really standing in the way of a job well done?

Whether you believe Leiberman to be a terrible pick to lead the DADT fight or not, some things are out of his hands, no matter his intellect.

He needs Republican support. And it’s going to be extremely difficult to get. It’s an election year in the middle of a Tea Party bonanza. Republican lawmakers might not be aligning themselves with the right-wing extremist brigade, but they certainly don’t want to piss them off. (Although not a yet a federal lawmaker, Florida’s U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio gave the clearest example of playing between the GOP and Tea Party at CPAC.) Despite pockets of conservatives saying they’re just fine with openly gay soldiers, the Tea Party class is not among them. Without a few GOP members signing on, sixty Senate votes seems a far off dream.

He needs Democratic support. Don’t think Lieberman can count on Dems to have his back. While many of them will publicly declare their support for a DADT repeal, few are willing to take the lead this early on, without widespread consensus in the Senate, and be branded as “the gay-loving lawmaker.” Which is too bad, because DADT isn’t about sexuality; it’s about national security. Moreover, expect a DADT issue to be used as a bargaining chip. In exchange for his vote, a lawmaker might want a bigger piece of the Defense budget bill devoted to funding a military contractor in his home state. That’s about status quo when it comes to laws dealing with discrimination.

This year-long review period is an excellent stalling tactic. Even lawmakers who publicly support repealing DADT (read: not John McCain) can point to this year-long review period as “movement” and “momentum” on the effort. They aren’t sitting on their hands, they say. Rather, they’re waiting for qualified military experts to report back on whether the U.S. military can function with out homos. That’s not stalling. It’s “carefully considering.” In particular, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who sits on the Armed Services Committee, indicated he wants to wait for the report back before making a decision. That way, he gets to say he’s open-minded about the issue, but wants the best information out there.

Lawmakers listen to the military chiefs. Whether it’s about how much money the Pentagon needs for new subs or IED armor, no legislator wants to be seen as unfriendly to the needs of America’s soldiers, particularly when the men and women in the armed forces all have families of voters. That’s why the Defense Department’s budget is basically a blank check. So if the heads of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force say they must wait to review what a DADT would mean before supporting it outright, few senators are going to volunteer to stage a public battle against them. Doing so would let election opponents paint them as politicians who don’t want to keep troops safe — a surefire way to sink a campaign.

It’s up to the president. Obama says he wants DADT repealed, and his most senior military advisers — Mullen and Gates — agree. But they are working in tandem, and neither group makes a move on this issue without the full consultation of the other. Which means until Mullen and Gates tell the White House they’re ready, Obama won’t push too hard on Democrats about speeding up the issue. And then lawmakers get to say, “But, but, the president isn’t guiding us!” It’s a hot potato blame game, and we’re all losers.

The media. Actually, Fox News is the least of your concerns. Aside from Bill O’Reilly’s rhetoric, the cable news network has done a decent job covering the DADT battle. It’s networks like CNN that invite hate leaders on their network to perpetrate falsehoods and fear. A great fact sheet from Media Matters offers reporters some concrete ways on how to avoid spreading these anti-gay fairytales grounded not in fact, but hatred. But increasing the populous’ support for repealing DADT requires averting their eyes to scary butt sex, and convincing them it’ll keep this country safer.

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  • romeo

    What in the hell is an “obstance?”

  • DC Gay Politico

    1. Obstances is not a word in the English language.
    2. Marco Rubio is running for U.S. Senate not governor, although you are correct that he is not currently a federal office holder, currently being the operative word there.
    3. You get some credit for improvement, but your overall political coverage is still an embarrassment and disservice to the community. PLEASE bring in someone who knows what they’re talking about.

  • Ian

    This is why i dont ever ever watch CNN and whenever I’m at the gym or whatever i ask them to switch the channel to MSNBC.

  • Lukas P.

    SUPERMODELS! Obstance? Does Queerty mean something that obstructs? Hinders? Gets in the way of something else? Check on the googles and you’ll find Queertyville on the first page of citations. It’s Middle English, derives from Latin, and can be found in my French dictionary that weighs more than a gallon of milk.

    It’s almost as archaic as Joe Lieberman


    So now we’ve got a bigass puzzle on our hands. Our military is stretched supermodel thin, we’re in some wars, and that whole hopey changey thing isn’t playing too well in Iraq and Afghanistan. Have I mentioned Iran is building nukes?

    Bottom line: Is it a priority to keep or expel competent military personnel in the midst of wars? Should GI Jane be shown the door for checking out Queerty’s photos of its newest crop of hot chicks or not? [Hello Farah!]

    Say it aint so, Joe.

  • Josh AZ

    There are only 49 Votes in the US Senate supporting the repeal of DADT. Game over.

  • Observer1000

    Josh AZ

    According the the exchange between Sen Levin and Lieberman on the day of the Adm Mullen and Sec Gates hearings you only need 40 votes to keep it in the Defense Appropriations bill. Since the homophobes stuck DADT in the Defense App bill in 1993 they’ll be hard pressed to say why it’s repeal should not be there.

  • bondwooley

    While we wait for DADT repeal, are we supposed to assume that the people who brought us radar don’t have any gaydar? It’s all silly. Keep military secrets to yourself, but don’t lie about who you are:


  • jason

    Obama has deliberately let this drag on for a long time. This gives the bigots a forum. Obama is simply playing us for fools. He’s a liar who can’t be trusted.

  • Brian En Guarde

    So Obama picks the biggest loser in the Senate to “lead” his DADT illusion. Sorry. Bye bye 2010 Democratic Party!

  • schlukitz

    Obama & Lieberman = Tweedledum and Tweedledee

  • Brian En Guarde

    Yea! Vet dumper in chief, and now his deputy douche.

  • Jon

    The military is our ally on this. We have this in the bag for an end. If I was in charge I would recommend that current cases just are just halted and open gays stay out of the military until next year when the policy can be changed with very reduced pay. That would seem pretty fair to me.

  • SugNight

    OBSTACLE #7: He’s a total douchebag that no one respects or listens to unless he has the swing vote.

  • Cam

    Lieberman is either being given a gift to help him with the GOP (i.e. be responsible for delaying or killing this legislation) to make it easier for him to jump parties, OR he is being given a gift to try to get the left wing of the party to not run a candidate against him in the upcoming election (i.e. look people, I helped push through a bill that he’s “The Gays”) Either way color me unimpressed with him.

  • ekw

    “obstance” is indeed a word in English and is not archaic nor obselete. It means “substance” or “opposition”. I think it can be used to mean the gathered-up essence of something, the true argument behind the sound and fury. It’s actually a brilliant word.

    “What is the real obstacle for the Palestinians? Is it the 1967 borders? The “right of return?” No. The obstance is that Israel must cease to exist.”

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