As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Even The Not-Liberal New Republic...

With Ellen Tauscher's departure from Congress, Patrick Murphy is taking up the cause of repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Murphy, a second-term Democrat, will be lead sponsor of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act, which would repeal "Don't ask, don't tell" — a policy first passed by Congress and signed into law under President Bill Clinton.

"It's our job," Murphy said of a repeal. "This was an act of Congress in 1993 and it will take an act of Congress" to reverse it.

The measure got a subcommittee hearing last year, but Murphy says Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has promised him a full committee hearing on the bill this session.

And The New Republic editorializes for its repeal as well this week.

This magazine has made no secret of its high regard for Barack Obama. Which makes it all the more distressing for us to observe the approach that his administration is taking on gay rights. During the campaign, Obama said all the right things (well, almost all--like most national politicians, he wouldn't endorse same-sex marriage). He invoked the importance of winning "equality" and "dignity" and "respect" for gays and lesbians. Now he is president. And one of the perks of being president is that you get to lead. But, when it comes to gay issues, leading does not seem to interest this White House [...]

In all of this, nothing is more infuriating than Obama's refusal to act on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. It is true that the issue affects a relatively small number of gays and lesbians. But discrimination in our armed forces carries a potent symbolism: It tells an entire class of people that the country is not interested in their service. And it would be an easy problem to fix. As Nathaniel Frank argued at tnr Online last month, Obama may need Congress's approval to officially repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but he has the legal authority to tell the Pentagon to stop enforcing the policy via executive order. He could do it tomorrow. As for the political risks: Obama should look at some polls. Unlike same-sex marriage, the question of whether gays should serve openly in the military is no longer a particularly controversial issue. According to Gallup, 69 percent of Americans believe gays should be able to serve openly. To put that number in perspective, it is 25 points higher than the percentage of Americans who endorse Obama's handling of health care, 19 points higher than the percentage who currently support the war in Afghanistan, and 18 points higher than the percentage who approve of the administration's economic policies. Obama is not afraid to push health care reform, send more troops to Afghanistan, or stand by his stimulus program--nor should he be. But why, when it comes to the far less controversial cause of gays serving in the military, is he apparently willing to punt?

So, take a look at the coalition here. Patrick Murphy, a Blue Dog Democrat, replaces New Democrat Ellen Tauscher as the lead sponsor on the repeal bill. The New Republic, easily the most centrist of major Democratic publications, which still has Charles Krauthammer on the frickin' masthead, calls the President's refusal to act "infuriating." We're not talking about Barbara Lee and The Nation teaming up on a bill. This is the consensus opinion of virtually everyone in the Democratic Party.

Except Barack Obama, who could stop implementation of the policy immediately through a stop-loss order.

If it's true that senior military leadership is to blame for the holdup of this basic, and modest, civil rights gain, someone needs to start naming names.

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