Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Wait

The policy: you can’t serve in the U.S. military if you have sex a certain way. Unless you (in effect) lie about it.

It was always an absurd travesty. A clear majority of the nation now opposes it. A federal judge has ruled it unconstitutional. Even a majority within the military endorses repeal.

Barry Goldwater, before his death, denounced the policy.

So why are we still dicking around over this?

A few military brass-hats wring their hands over supposed potential pitfalls. Who are they kidding? In most other nations gays have long served in uniform without anyone giving it a second thought. They serve too, everyone knows, in the U.S. military. The only issue is whether they are required to lie about it.

We’re told this is a time of war. Right – so why retain a policy that discards thousands of recruits whose skills and service we so desperately need?

All the arguments invoking “good order” in the ranks, etc., are a smokescreen, used by those who just simply don’t like gays. They feel that gays are sissies and openly allowing them to serve would somehow undermine the military’s macho-ness. That’s what it’s really about.

Most white soldiers in the past didn’t like blacks, who were allowed to serve only in exclusively black units. In 1948, President Truman ended that segregation by executive order – bang, just like that, overnight. Given the state of American race relations in 1948, that was surely a huge shock, with many white soldiers extremely hostile to serving alongside blacks. Yet the military adjusted to it, swiftly and smoothly, on the whole.

Repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” would be far less wrenching today than ending racial segregation was in 1948.

This also points up the contrast between Truman’s gutsyness and the Obama administration’s pusillanimity. I repeat, why are we still dicking around over this? Truman acted pursuant to his constitutional authority as commander-in-chief. Obama has the same authority. And meantime, again, a federal court has struck down “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The administration could have said, we agree and will implement the decision forthwith. Instead, it said, we agree with the decision yet we’re going to appeal it. So they’ll send lawyers into court to defend a stupid, morally wrong, dysfunctional and unconstitutional policy that it opposes.

They claim this is the Justice Department’s duty. That’s inexplicably disingenuous. A legal official always has discretion over what cases to pursue, or not. And the Department of Justice is subordinate to the President, who gives it its marching orders. The administration also says it would be better for this issue to be resolved by Congress than the courts. Perhaps; but as a practical matter, Congress seems unable to act. Strange that these so-called liberals have suddenly lost their appetite for judicial activism to rectify societal wrongs.

On a broader range of issues, the left is deeply disenamored of the Obama administration. For the most part I take a dim view of their attitude. But on this issue, I share their disgust with Obama.

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3 Responses to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Wait”

  1. Lee Says:

    I am in favor of repealing DADT as much as anyone, but I can kind of see where Obama is coming from. Our constitution says that congress makes the laws and the president enforces them, or something like that. If there is law that a president doesn’t like, is he simply free to ignore it, or must he enforce it anyway? If there is a court challenge to such a law can he simply capitulate (or defend it lackadaisically)? I think the answer to these questions are that the president is obligated to both enforce and defend a law, even a bad one. As I see it, he’s off the hook only if a court overturns a law, or if the law changes via the normal legislative process. (Well, I guess he could decline to defend a law in court if he can determine that such would be essentially futile.)

    My fear is that giving the president the power to ignore (or not defend) some law gives the president too much power, to ignore the laws that we do want him/her to follow.

    I do not share Obama’s opinion that it would be unfortunate if it is the courts that overturn this unjust law. That’s exactly the role the constitution envisioned for the courts.

    FSR COMMENT: I cannot disentangle this comment. Yes, the President executes the laws. But if a Federal Court has ruled that a law is unconstitutional, surely the President can say, “OK, I agree, and will bow to the court’s ruling.” Appeal of a correct ruling is not obligatory!

  2. Lee Says:

    I agree that an appeal is not obligatory. Somehow, I had missed, in the news and in your post, that a court has already overturned DADT. I agree with you 100% that Obama should let the ruling stand.

  3. bruce Says:

    In light of the new law…
    Perhaps someone here will give an example of “openly”?

    Its my impression that to succeed the best approach is to play along rather than kick sand. Now a nattily knotted tie isn’t going to cause any ruckus, but a swishy boy with live rounds may be another story. Not having served I still feel able to suggest that living under the scrutiny of combat and close quarters its best to not force your individualism extremes.
    So I have to assume the policy of the new law is to provide cover for the people in the office, OK no big deal. One wonders, realistically, what are the chances the Services are going to appoint an “openly” serviceman to a position of prominence? This whole thing seems a bit absurd, more a level of modesty than a wholesale change.
    In the end the winners here are the lawyers and the blow hards that are miles away from the concept of military service.
    In summary, not much change but enough to keep lawyers in the black.

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