by Dan Savage
on Sat, Oct 10, 2009 at 2:33 PM
Andrew mentioned the president's plate. Apologists for the president constantly cite his plate—there's a lot on it, dontcha know—and critics of the president feel obliged to at least acknowledge the state of the president's plate. But I don't have any sympathy for the president's plate so long as he goes on expelling gays and lesbians from the military.
Enforcing DADT—tossing gay servicemembers out of the military—eats up time, effort, and resources. The president has the power to suspend enforcement of DADT right now, just like his Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napalatino had the power to suspend enforcement of the "widow's penalty." But he refuses to do it. And the president's refusal to suspend enforcement of DADT—which 76 members of Congress asked him to do in a letter back in June—hasn't made the issue go away. DADT is always in the news and the president and his staff are constantly having to address the issue, and make excuses, and craft justifications, because the issue is unresolved, because the president hasn't taken what action he can. Ending DADT—suspending DADT by executive order and tasking Congress with working on a repeal—would mean one less thing for military has to do (no more witch hunts, no more trials, no more costly expulsions of highly-trained Air Force pilots or fluent Arab linguists and West Point grads during wartime), and it would be one less thing for the president to do (no more having to defend his inaction on DADT).
Suspending enforcement of DADT—which the president has the authority to do—would instantly shift the debate to Congress. It would take DADT off the president's plate. What to do about DADT would land on Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi's plate. Scrap DADT? Reform DADT? It's not the president's problem anymore, it's Congress's problem. And if Congress didn't act—and that's a mighty small if—if would be a logistical nightmare for for the next president, Democrat or Republican, to reverse Obama's suspension of DADT.
So long as the president refuses to remove DADT from his own plate—and I'm not holding my breath—I don't have much sympathy for him where his plate is concerned. Yeah, there's a lot on his plate. No doubt. But until he takes DADT off his plate I'm not interested in listing to him or his apologists whine.