Tuesday, December 21, 2010

DADT repeal, curb your enthusiasm progressives

In a move that surprised the more cynical among us, the US Senate voted first for cloture and then for the repeal of DADT. Granted, the vote occurred after the election  allowing a full two years before any Senator would feel the blow-back from his or her vote, but you take your victories where and when you can. Some of the Pachyderm support for repeal was entirely expected. The dynamic Maine duo of Snowe and Collins plus their New England neighbor Scott Brown were almost a lock for repeal. Senator Collins went briefly AWOL on a technical matter but in the end she joined the forces of truth, justice and the American way.

The vote for repeal was a bit of a surprise, it looked that the Elephants were more than willing to let the “activist courts” settle the issue while they continued to mine homophobia for a few more election cycles. So how did this get done? Credit or blame can be placed on two individuals Joe Lieberman and Robert Gates.

If the background reporting of the Corporate Media can be believed it was unholy Joe who finally shepherded the bill through the Senate. If this is true, the final repeal of DADT is much less than meets the eye. It is not about civil rights dear reader, it is all about feeding the beast of the Military-Industrial-Police state.

This is where the other part of the dynamic duo comes to fore; the Batman to unholy Joe’s Robin: Robert Gates. For him and the brass hats at the Pentagon this was all about personnel; it was all about the trigger pullers.

Unlike the Republican Party the Generals and Admirals of the Pentagon could see the cultural Tsunami bearing down political landscape. In military terms they were a small rifle team noting a tank battalion headed to their small hill.  Worse for the defenders of DADT Hill, the tank battalion had them registered and was ready lay down a hurting. The end results were no longer under question, only the way they would happen.

This was the argument  made by Gates about the courts. The reality he presented was this : Five to Four decision made by the Supremes overturning DADT. This would result in operational chaos as the courts would be running military personnel policy and not the Pentagon. With the U.S. fighting two and half wars ( one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan and a half war that no one mentions in Pakistan) the military did not need the courts big-footing around with personnel management.

Deep in their shriveled hearts Republicans knew how that scenario would play out. It would be military collapse brought about by a DADT policy that only had low thirties support at best. Where to peel off the requisite Republican Senators to pass the bill whilst holding on to their homophobic, racist, Southern base? With the usual suspect of John Sidney McCain III gone AWOL from maverick duties, who to fill the breach? Round up the usual suspects of the New England senators! That gained three votes, who’s next? Who might want to do a little personal knife work against the entrenched power of the evangelicals. Who might have a personal grudge against the Christianist Crazies and their self anointed queen, Sara Palin? Perchance the Senior Senator from Alaska; might she have little pay back to deliver to Sister Sara? Lookie here, Lisa Murkowski is here, with bells on. That is four. If you look at the Republican votes for repeal only one came from the hard core base of the deep south. That fine gentleman, voted for repeal right after he wiped the floor with his North Carolina Democratic opponent. It will be six long years before the voters can deliver any kind of payback. No pressure group has that kind of memory outside of AIPAC.

DADT  is headed to the dust bin of history because military necessity. This was no victory for civil or human rights at least not in a direct manner. The military establishment needed the encumbrance of DADT gone. The reality was that DADT had become a destabilizing and demoralizing policy that was hurting good order and discipline. It was a disconnect between the young trigger pullers who were no longer invested in the homophobia that created the policy, and the leadership who still had issues with the rainbow nation. Even the top brass was loosing interest in the Gay-bashing agenda of DADT. Only a few dinosaurs , collected mostly in fossil beds of the United States Marine Corps, held out.

Not to beat a dead horse into unrecognizable mass of carrion, but all you have to know about DADT repeal is that it was un-holy Joe Lie-Berman that got the deal done. Rumor control has it that Obama was willing to toss DADT repeal to the ever hungry lions of the Republican right to get START passed. Maybe this is spin from Lie-Berman to make him look even more the hero, but then again maybe not. It is not outside the realm of possibility that Obama would cravenly toss the Rainbow Nation under the bus to feed the insatiable appetites of the minority party. Obama has done little in public to prove his claim of being indefatigable champion for Gay rights. There is little doubt that the Likud Senator from Aetna (by way of Connecticut) has been the major spear carrier in the home stretch for DADT repeal. As late as December 21, 2010 he was beating back Merciless Mitch McConnel and his attempts to scotch the reform.  No, really:

“A last-ditch effort by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to complicate the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was blocked Tuesday night after Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) objected, Senate aides said.
McConnell attempted to add an amendment to the so-called stripped-down defense authorization bill that would have required the consent of the military service chiefs to proceed with "don't ask" repeal. Under legislation passed by the Senate last week, certifications are required from the president, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. All the incumbents in those positions support repeal.
"It was a McConnell proposal," a GOP aide confirmed. "There was an attempted to get unanimous consent for it to be included in the defense bill and someone objected." ..Repeal advocates have long viewed such an amendment as a poison pill. Presumably, this is what prompted Lieberman's objection.”


Give Merciless Mitch his due, he was able wrest the last bit of political gold from this political vein before this particular branch was closed off.
With the DADT no longer law, the policy does not end so much as it is decommissioned. Much like a ship stricken off the Navy list, it will be broken up for scrap. It will in McArthur’s words slowly fade away. This will be a rather slow and somewhat painful to watch process. DADT will not go gladly into that good night.

The end of DADT will be micro-managed in way that only the military can.  A blizzard of paperwork will ensue: DoD instructions, Navy instructions, Army instructions, Air Force instructions. The new policy will slowly seep down the top down nature of the military, with each step generating its own memos, instructions, manuals, directives, and other bits of bureaucratic flotsam and jetsam.

This is what the military wanted, it wanted repeal on its terms, not some district courts’ terms. The tail of military bureaucratic procedures has wagged the dog of public policy. Equal justice under law has become a camp follower of our modern legions.
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