Over Don't Ask/Don't Tell
Dena Bunis is the Washington bureau chief for the Orange Country Register, and her paper just posted her latest column to the web. It's a report card for President Obama's first year in the Oval Office. Bunis graded Obama on ten issues, from healthcare reform to Wall Street accountability, immigration reform and other matters of national concern, and the grades were spread out from C minus to A.
But only one issue received a D grade: Don't Ask/Don't Tell.
When I saw that, I had to do a double-check to make sure I wasn't mistakenly reading a weekly gay newspaper. We would expect the gay press to give the President a lousy grade on Don't Ask/Don't Tell, and that wouldn't shock anyone.
In this case, we have the Republican-leaning daily newspaper, in one of the most conservative areas of the country, bestowing a grade of D on the President over his promise to lift the ban on gays in the military. If this isn't a sign that the political culture, including from the right, has shifted on the matter of putrid discrimination against soldiers based on irrelevant sexual orientation, and that the ban must be lifted, then I don't know what is.
I wonder if the leaders at the Human Rights Campaign have any plan to exploit what Orange County Register has printed on the President's first report card, bolding added:
Promise: "Obama will work with military leaders to repeal the current [Don't Ask, Don't Tell] policy and ensure we accomplish our national defense goals." Barackobama.com
And in an open letter to the Gay and Lesbian community in February, 2008, Obama said: "I have also called for us to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell."
"I will end 'don't ask, don't tell,' " Obama said at the March 9, 2009 annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil rights advocacy organization. But Obama gave the group no timetable for ending the ban, which must be done by Congress. And he acknowledged that the gay community is upset. During the campaign he never said when he would call for the ban's repeal.
"I appreciate that many of you don't believe progress has come fast enough," Obama said. "Do not doubt the direction we are heading and the destination we will reach."
But it's well known that ending this policy is opposed in the halls of the Pentagon and Democratic leaders in Congress have also not pushed it.
In an interview on Fox News on March 29, 2009, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he and Obama were pushing that promise "down the road a little bit.''
Kudos to Bunis and the OC Register.