The folks at the Palm Center, a research institute of the University of California, Santa Barbara, whose work of late has focused on gays in the military, felt the President’s endorsement of congressional repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” during his State of the Union address fell “short of the challenges ahead for repeal in 2010.” Christopher Neff, Deputy Executive Director of the Center said
Including repeal in the State of the Union Address makes clear that the President considers this issue important. . . . Yet the path to repeal will require both a command decision by the President and a clear timeline which follows. Leadership from the Pentagon will likely be mixed during upcoming hearings, and votes will be close in the House and Senate. It’s the President who is the game-changer on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ in 2010.
We have yet to see whether his Administration has, in private meetings with the Pentagon brass, laid the groundwork for repeal and whether its legislative liaison has been working with congressional leaders to set a timeline for moving the appropriate legislation forward. We do know that they have been reaching out to Senator Joseph Lieberman, an independent Democrat well regarded in the military. But, the recent news reports leading up to the line in last night’s speech suggests his decision to address the topic caught Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin unawares.
AndI wish the president had given the issue more than just a line. His statement seemed more perfunctory than passionate, as if he were saying it because he had to. He may just have been throwing a bone to a part of his pace to show he was paying attention.
That said, if he does have a plan to move repeal forward, then it doesn’t matter how many words he used to address the topic in his State of the Union address. As long as Congress passes a bill repealing the ban–and he signs it.