I see that in his SOTU speech tonight, President Obama renewed his promise to introduce legislation that would end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Of course, he promised to end DADT back when he was still a candidate, but shelved that promise in order to focus his time, energy, and political capital on expanding government's control over your health care. But is it really that hard to end DADT? My primitive infantryman brain recalls that Truman did something eerily similar to in 1948, with Executive Order 9981:
It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale.
9981, of course, is the Executive Order by which African Americans were integrated in the military. It was signed in July of 1948, at a time when Truman was in for a big fight for the Presidency against a strong Republican challenger. The outcome of the election was definitely in doubt. "Dewey Defeats Truman," read at least one of the papers.
Truman was a weak President. And he was a weak candidate. But on this Executive Order, the justice of which has been confirmed through the verdict of history, he was strong. He didn't submit legislation before Congress. He just threw that shit down. So. Leaving aside your opinion on DADT -- and we've had some spirited debates here on Blackfive about the policy -- here's what we know, or believe that we know: 1) President Obama believes DADT is unjust. 2) Most of the gay community wants to see DADT repealed. 3) The gay community overwhelmingly supported President Obama. President Clinton enacted DADT by Executive Order. 4) According to at least some experts on military law, President Obama can end DADT without Congress' approval, or at the least he can issue the Executive Order like Truman did, and wait for the courts to overturn it, or for Congress to pass a law that restores it.
But that's not what he's doing.
The only conclusion I can draw from all of this is that President Obama is a weak and callow man. He can end DADT with the stroke of a pen, yet he understands there is no percentage in it for him when he can shift the heat to Congress. Apparently, Rahm Emmanuel had a Come to Jesus meeting with him back in January of last year, and explained that Hollywood homosexuals aren't about to vote for Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin. So I guess the bigger questions are, what does it say about a President who doesn't do what he believes to be the right thing? And if I was in the military, knowing that he doesn't consider the military a friend, how would I feel about a Commander in Chief who treats his political allies this badly? I guess what I'm saying is that I'd watch my back, if I was one of you active duty guys.
I'm looking at you, Seal Team 10.