Worse than Rove (updated) or: The Gay After Tomorrow

Andrew Sullivan writes:

“And, yes, Bush, despite being personally compassionate and understanding of gay men and women and hiring them from the very bottom to the very top of his administration (on the condition that they remain closeted at all times), went along. He endorsed marginalizing gays as second class citizens in the very federal constitution “in deference to the need to press every advantage.” And in so doing, he never even acknowledged in any way our existence or dignity or humanity. He never met with a single one of us or our representatives in eight years in office. He never used the word itself in a formal speech. He never even referred in public to the pain and suffering that his policy would entail, to the immense hurt a tiny minority would feel if they were singled out in their own constitution as sub-human. This “uniter-not-a-divider” was indifferent to a policy that would have written a beleaguered and tiny minority out of their own country. But he had to do this “in deference to the need to press every advantage.” To my mind, this makes him worse than Rove: at least Rove was a proud cynic; Bush couldn’t take even that responsibility. I know all this pains Reihan and I know his heart and brilliant mind are in the right place. But he’s being far too generous to the GOP elites.”

So where does this place Obama?  Is he worse than both Bush and Rove?  His constituency is largely in favor of gay rights, and yet still he refuses to do everything in his power to afford that portion of the population equality under the law.  This strikes me as quite a lot more disingenuous than anything the past administration did.  After all, Obama doesn’t have to answer to the Christian Coalition, or any conservative religious organization or base.  What could possibly compel him to drag his feet?

Scott may be right and there may be some prioritizing going on.  I mean, it was far more important for the President to push Chicago’s bid for the Olympics than it is for him to sign the executive order required to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  And hey, it’s one thing to juggle health care reform, stimulus, and climate change schemes – it would be awfully difficult to do that and support gay rights all at the same time.  I mean, a guy’s gotta rest.   And it’s not like DOMA or DADT actually effect anyone’s real lives, do they?

No.  I’m with Sully on this one.  With all the nonsense on the right at this point, Obama’s betrayal of many progressive priorities won’t do him much harm for now.  But as the wars rage on, as gay servicemen and women continue to be kicked out of the military, and as the public option collapses into a million little pieces, one wonders how long Obama will really maintain his approval ratings.  He’s no Bill Clinton, and I doubt he has the skill to wriggle out of total collapse the way Clinton could.

Now, if only Republicans could get their act together and find themselves a damn leader whose name isn’t Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or Michael Steele….

UPDATE.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
The Gay After Tomorrow
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview
Please do be so kind as to share this post.
Share

55 thoughts on “Worse than Rove (updated) or: The Gay After Tomorrow

  1. Not to mention how important it is that our President be able to appear on just about every talk show in a two week span, and film commercials for a comedian’s show on TBS, and deliver any number of speeches to any number of groups on any number of topics.

      Quote  Link

    Report

        • Part of the point of my post was that by taking an “all at once” approach, the administration was doing a poor job of everything on its plate. So now all you’re asking is for a poor job of supporting gay rights. If that strikes you as the best way forward then more power to you, I suppose, but I would offer an administration that takes the time and maintains the focus to achieve its agenda/mandate in a comprehensive manner winds up doing more good for those impacted by that agenda.

          And if you’ve been looking to Obama as a “get-out-of-the-wars” president, you’ve been looking to the wrong guy from the get go.

            Quote  Link

          Report

          • Here’s what I’m saying – all Obama has to do to help out the gay community for now is sign an executive order. The rest can come later. One sign of the pen to stop all these service men and women from getting booted from their jobs. It would be a constructive step and a symbolic action. That’s it. That’s all he has to do.

              Quote  Link

            Report

            • I see where you’re coming from, I do. I suppose my point of departure is that I’ll save my condemnation on this front for if and when Obama fails to follow through on “the rest”. I’d rather see him take it all on at the same time and really put himself to not just repealing DADT and DOMA, but make the effort to create or at least initiate the attendant systemic changes required for lasting and meaningful equality.

              The question that really looms, though, as I mentioned in the comments of my post, is whether Obama is going to be the guy to do that. The more I talk about it, the more I’m not so sure.

              Is his wavering on the small stuff and indication of the larger stuff? Maybe it is. If that’s the case, then certainly unleash with hell’s fury. But as North says below, at nine months I’m just not sure we can know.

                Quote  Link

              Report

              • If that is the case (Obama’s not the guy), then perhaps putting his feet to the fire on DADT as the best that can be expected because it won’t really cost much and may have long term impacts a la Bob’s suggestion below is what needs to happen.

                Hmmm, I might be flipped on this, but I still don’t think it’s unreasonable to see Obama take that step once the healthcare debate is finished. And, of course, that is a big if about how supportive he really is that I’m posing. It’s an if I don’t have an answer to. But it might be the best bet for gay rights activists to hedge their bets and push hard now, regardless. Kind of cynical real politik, but that’s life.

                  Quote  Link

                Report

            • I wish that it were a ‘stroke of the pen’ issue; though this is sort of like Kennedy’s support of American Americans’ right to citizenship, and subsequent walk back, plus the campaign by the SCLC and others sending him pens for such an executive order.

              I like the symbolic stroke of the pen, and it’s an appealing symbol. But it risks votes on health care, which is more important than gay rights and more time-critical as it’s underway. Once it’s off the table, there’s more room to inhabit and more ways to maneuver–though the Republican Party will throw itself on the floor for a grand tantrum about the “homosexual agenda” and “special rights.” There’s also the internal dynamics of the Congress to be worked through; given the ire over Prop. H8 and other issues, you’ve got some good members building momentum in their committees for DADT/DOMA Repeal, but there aren’t enough votes to pass things on the floor of either chamber.

              I also think the tenor of this post is a bit rich; firstly, Obama’s participation in the Olympic bid confuses his symbolic and official roles (this is why England keeps the Queen; she cuts ribbons, doesn’t write bills.) On the flipside, he got the stimulus and the first Latina on the Supreme Court, and has gotten further on health care reform than anyone since LBJ; as core generational ambitions and obligations of the Democratic Party (Kennedy-Dingell), that’s a lot, and a lot to stop total screaming economic meltdown.

              Second, Obama’s not worse than Rove, that’s plain hysteria and rhetorical flim-flam. It’s been alleged that Bush was not a sincere bigot with regards to gays; but he was willing to gay-bash to get elected and reelected, and did nothing to change his party’s inane behavior. I’d have been happier with Sam Brownbeck; he’s a reactionary of the first order, but an honest monster in his hatreds. If you exploit hatred for political gain (like kicking off your campaign on the graves of civil rights workers to celebrate ‘States’ Rights’ and the dangers of ‘welfare queens’) but lack that same hatred, you’re worse than a mere bigot; there’s something special in aiding and abetting bigotry and the abuse of a minority when you think it’s wrong to do so (one of the /Vanity Fair/ Articles about the Bush Presidency and the Latimer book both describe events where Bush admits he doesn’t want to tell gay kids they can’t marry or whatever, but then he realizes he’s not made of stern stuff and chants “Faggot faggot hahahah bigotry yay” because the other thing might be politically risky, but morally righteous. Hmm, there’s a religion that likes compassion and helping the meek. Not sure I can remember what it is…nevermind)

              Obama and his campaign activated, registered, engaged, and mobilized a bunch of voters who are more multiracial and more liberal than the electorate as a whole; he’s also inherited a gigantic mess, and it’s only been nine months (in which the GOP is holding up great swathes of his staff). The Lily Ledbetter Act had a closer causal outrage to drive it forward. To some degree, the Prop. 8 outrage has dissipated into new and different fights (Beware! Mormons marching on Maine!).

              Either the Congress will move forward after health care, or after health care the White House will draw outlines and engage but let Congress write the bill.

              The wild cards on are the ongoing Mormon/Ken Starr attempt to annul all gay marriages (which would be a Pyhrric victory at best), the National Equality March, the various stupid referendums, and a variety of civil rights cases.

              I think it’s premature to think of an Obama-Democratic Party collapse over gay rights; most Democratic 2010 candidates are for marriage equality and DADT repeal, which is a useful barometer of what’s electable. Further on, the Obama voting base can shove OFA back just as much as OFA can mobilize them. Health Care is sucking up all the oxygen; once it’s passed, there’s space for three or four issues at once.

              Gay rights as political movement has the worst combination of black and Jewish minority groups. In the case of the former, there’s an array of laws that diminish our citizenship while demanding equal taxes, and a political party that stands to gain from keeping us as ‘those people of the broken window.’ In the latter, we can culturally integrate in most of the country and sometimes integrate locally politically without too much effort, as there’s no easy visual marker; but our allies often mistake social acceptance for political change and lose interest in engagement, and thus we’re the repressed minority.

              Of course, since seventies, there’s been a minority in the country that’s been able to be heard and arrange for the success of its agenda; the anti-choice movement has successfully used domestic terrorism to limit women’s access to reproductive health services and the rank and file of major political party has collaborated in the process; obviously, when judicial review and the political system don’t do as you please, that’s really the best thing to do.

              (In a big meta-point, America mostly thinks of upper middle class whites when it thinks of gay men; the alienness of Obama in the White House has on the one hand racheted up hate crimes in the Old Confederacy and the Rust Belt, but by virtue of holding office, and America’s various cultural hang ups about black men and sex and the GOP’s hobby horse of xenophobia, the Black President makes the White Gay less difficult to assimilate culturally.)

                Quote  Link

              Report

      • Fair enough, but how much of those appearances could be characterized as an attempt to regain control of the health care debate (I honestly don’t know the answer to that, by the way, since I don’t usually watch late-night talk shows; I’m ok with the appearances on the Sunday talk-show circuit)?

          Quote  Link

        Report

  2. How much use exactly is an executive order when it could simply be reinstated down the road by another administratrion?

    DOMA repeal requires congressional action, and likely a full fledged fix of DODT probably would, too.

      Quote  Link

    Report

      • And do you think the present circumstances for Congress are good for the President pushing such a repeal through? The lunatic fringe is screaming enough over what should be a relatively nonpartisan set of health insurance reform measures. (For all the sound and fury really it’s not all that different from what the McCain camp also pressed for last year)

        What do you think a full blown culture war issue would do at this point? Make things easier?

          Quote  Link

        Report

          • I would argue that because that’s the case bigger legislation needs to come first. Climate change, financial regulatory reform, health care, are all high stakes issues that need as large a majority as possible because the construction of the Democratic party means certain caucuses within it won’t hold.

            Since there’s no hope of any bipartisan compromise on a gay rights issue, I think having a smaller majority in that case won’t be as big of a political liability…not to mention would anything rile up the “base” even more for 2010 than bringing DOMA and DADT into it?

              Quote  Link

            Report

    • Let’s say Obama signed an executive order suspending DADT. Seven years later a new president is in office and is faced with a situation where gays serving openly in the military has worked out very nicely, a la other countries experiences. Could the new president credibly return to DADT?

        Quote  Link

      Report

    • DADT is also statute, but an executive order would be a half-assed fix. Or how about a Bush-style signing order that forbid any implementation of DADT in the executive branch. A simple order to DOD – “Starting today don’t put anyone out for suspected or proven homosexual conduct. ” Who could object signing orders?

        Quote  Link

      Report

  3. “And hey, it’s one thing to juggle health care reform, stimulus, climate change schemes – it would be awfully difficult to do that and support gay rights all at the same time. I mean, a gu’ys gotta rest. And it’s not like DOMA or DADT actually effect anyone’s real lives, do they?”

    Thanks E.D. for that. The full-plate argument demolished above is long overdue. After all the Prez has all those Czars to help clear the table and Bo, or whatever the dog’s name, can eat some of the scraps.

    Obama’s reticence on gay issues is an abomination.

      Quote  Link

    Report

  4. What Jay said. We have nowhere to go and even depressed turn out on our part won’t hurt him much.
    The points are simple enough. We gays (as a movement, not as in Andrew Sullivan) were not with him in the primary. So they’re in the back of the line right now.

    And yes, he’ll be worse than Bush if he doesn’t do anything about it by the time his first term ends. That said, it’s only been what, nine months?

    Long story short; he’s a capable politician. He’s not above politics and he’s not above political calculations. The only thing new about him is his race. That said, if he can pull off even half of what he’s putting on his plate he may well be a great politician. And also if the Republicans continue on the course they’re on they may well suffer a Mondale scale whipeout.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • “And yes, he’ll be worse than Bush if he doesn’t do anything about it by the time his first term ends. That said, it’s only been what, nine months?”

      Exactly. I’m not giving him a pass, I’m just reserving judgment.

        Quote  Link

      Report

  5. One explaination for Obama’s refusal, so far, to issue an executive order regarding DADT is that he thinks it might not be a lawful use of his power–DADT is currently the law of the land, unfortunately, and simply ordering the military to ignore the law does smack of the sort of executive power-grabbing that the LAST administration so much enjoyed.
    Perhaps its not a good explaination–many on the left would love to see Obama use the full force of office to impose a progressive agenda wherever he can, just as Bush did during his term to impose a conservative one–but Obama, for better or worse, seems disinclined to do so.

      Quote  Link

    Report

    • I think you have it exactly right. My hypothetical in response to Nob, above, was biased on the questionable proposition that Obama could legally instruct DOD to ignore DADT by presidential fiat. DOMA is unquestionably (?) immune from such action.

      That said, Obama dealings with gays, starting with Rick Warren praying at the inauguration, are an abomination.

        Quote  Link

      Report

      • Well, it depends on what you call an abomination. I personally reserve the term for massacres and sacrifices to or images of Ashteroth, but mileage varies. I suggest that Obama is doing two things on DADT:

        1) Waiting a while to let the national temperature cool down on the issue. When you consider the current furore on gay marriage, it is plausible to think that this is not the time to start a related fire on DADT.

        2) Waiting for the military to start asking for the repeal of DADT – which may be happening. Certainly, doing a full repeal with the military in support would be the best and surest way to achieve it.

        I would be happier if Obama could sign an executive order suspending dismissals from the military pending a full review of the policy, and so force the military to put their cards on the table. What I don’t know if whether we have got to the point where the military would actually advocate repealing DADT. If a full review went the wrong way, it might set everything back ten years.

          Quote  Link

        Report

  6. Bill Clinton may be more punchline than presidential these days but when confronted with an issue where 58% of Republicans agree with 70+% of Democrats, it would’ve been child’s play for him to triangulate a repeal of DADT. Or at the very least make more of a show of at least trying.

      Quote  Link

    Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *