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Will Harry Reid Reach Out to Susan Collins to Move DADT Repeal?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 10:36 pm - November 15, 2010.
Filed under: 111th Congress,DADT (Don't Ask, Don't Tell)

One of our readers claims it’s “ridiculous” for me to blame Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for the failure of DADT repeal. This critic lays the blame primarily at the feet of the Republicans.  To be sure, he does acknowledge that Reid “may have been one of the reasons it didn’t pass”, but that explanation, in my mind, glosses over just how much power the Nevada Democrat has.  Reid controlled the Senate agenda in the 111th Congress.  Indeed, for roughly six months of his tenure, he had a filibuster-proof majority, not needing a single Republican vote to move legislation.

And there several Senate Republicans, notably Susan Collins of Maine, who favor repeal. Only Reid’s ham-handed manner of pursuing repeal turned off even moderates like her.  She wasn’t the only one to fault Reid’s strategy on appeal.  As I wrote last month in a piece for Pajamas Media:

. . . in the Washington Post, . . . Collins . . . faulted the Nevada Democrat for using “procedural tactics” to “prevent Republican amendments.” She wasn’t alone. Her Massachusetts colleague Scott Brown also decried Reid’s tactics. Jarrod Chlapowski, field director for Servicemembers United, a group opposed to DADT, derided Reid’s legislative tactics as “cynical” and called them “a recipe for failure.”

Despite Reid’s tactical blunders, Collins is still hoping to move forward on repeal.  I wonder why the Democratic Leader didn’t try earlier to reach across the partisan divide and solicit the help of the Maine Republican.  According to Politico, she and her Connecticut colleague Joe Lieberman

. . .sent a letter (viewable here) to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, urging him to make the highly-anticipated report public “as soon as possible” to improve the chances that a conditional repeal of the ban on gays in the military – currently attached to a must-pass defense authorization bill – will become law before the clock runs out on the lame-duck session next month.

She seems pretty confident that report will confirm what other studies have shown — that repeal of the ban will not compromise unit cohesion or military effectiveness.  Let’s hope for a speedy release of the report — and a speedy vote on repeal.

If Harry Reid is serious about ending the ban, he’ll reach out to his Republican colleague from Maine and seek her advice in crafting a legislative strategy on repeal.

NB:  Tweaked the post to more accurately reflect the comment of the critic in question.

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30 Comments

  1. Yea, so I never even came close to solely blaming any one political party for anything! I choose my words carefully and don’t appreciate them being taken out of context. Both parties, Democrats and Republicans, made mistakes when it came to this issue. I even agreed that Harry Reid and the democrats handled the situation poorly.

    I’d really appreciate it if you would amend your post to more accurately reflect what I said. I feel like that would be appropriate in the spirit of reasonable and polite debate.

    Comment by AJ — November 15, 2010 @ 10:54 pm - November 15, 2010

  2. Poorly? Reid kicked your teeth in and threw you under the bus. If that’s “poorly”, I’d hate to see shitty treatment.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — November 15, 2010 @ 11:05 pm - November 15, 2010

  3. B. Daniel, you just keep exposing yourself. First you advise Republicans to ignore gay issues then here, in this post, you do a total flip flop and insist that Harry Reid should reach out to Republican Susan Collins to get DADT repealed. Yet, why should Susan Collins get involved in repealing DADT if Republicans are supposed to ignore gay issues and censor themselves on social issues generally? Let me get this straight. Republicans should ignore gay issues by voting on them from a socially liberal position. So voting = ignoring so long as the vote is from the Left. Can you say, Orwellian? I knew you could!

    Comment by Seane-Anna — November 15, 2010 @ 11:17 pm - November 15, 2010

  4. And if repeal doesn’t get done during the lame duck session, hopefully GOPProud and Log Cabin Republicans – as well as Susan Collins and others in the Senate take some leadership to push the bill forward in 2011. And there are some house republicans who should take some leadership on the bill also.

    There’s more than enough blame on this to go around. Rather than sniping – people who want to repeal DADT (Dems AND Republicans), and the gay groups, need to start working together to accomplish the goal – and NOT give up just because the Dems have lost the house.

    Comment by Eva Young — November 15, 2010 @ 11:18 pm - November 15, 2010

  5. Fair criticism, Seane-Anna, but one caveat here. Poll shows that even conservatives favor repeal.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — November 15, 2010 @ 11:23 pm - November 15, 2010

  6. Can one of our Gay Leftist Lickspittle friends answer the following question for me:

    In purely political terms, why the hell would the GOP lift a damn finger to help The Gays? All of the gay groups, sans GOProud, have been singularly dedicated to electing Democrats and/or demonizing Republicans for decades.

    If I were Boehner & McConnell, I’d tell the gay activists to go f–k themselves.

    Luckily, GOProud will try to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    Comment by Bruce (GayPatriot) — November 15, 2010 @ 11:29 pm - November 15, 2010

  7. This report, of course, won’t be released until after the lame duck session.

    Without the final report released, that gives McCain and others cover for voting against it.

    After the lame duck session, Congressional repeal will be even harder.

    Comment by Mitch — November 15, 2010 @ 11:40 pm - November 15, 2010

  8. Let’s hope for a speedy release of the report — and a speedy vote on repeal.

    Why would you hope for that? You just got done telling us (as you have been for months) that Congress should NOT address social issues.

    Fair criticism, Seane-Anna, but one caveat here. Poll shows that even conservatives favor repeal.

    …IF it doesn’t harm effecitiveness, etc…

    Yes, you’re absolutely right. Polls do show that. But unless it can be shown that allowing gays to serve openly actually IMPROVES military readiness, this remains a SOCIAL, not national security, issue. You push social issues with one side of your mouth, while telling others not to with the other.

    Polls also show a majority of Americans oppose gay marriage.

    Majority support matters when it gets you what you want, but should be ignored when it contradicts what you want?

    That is your position, Dan. And, I’m sorry, but it’s not a very pretty one.

    I’ve offered you a lifeline.

    Comment by American Elephant — November 16, 2010 @ 12:01 am - November 16, 2010

  9. The military readiness argument for the repeal of DADT is, imho, bogus. If B. Daniel and other supporters of repeal really care about military readiness they’d be FOR DADT. Why? Because DADT hasn’t harmed military readiness. It hasn’t harmed the ability of the US armed forces to do their job, i.e., kick ass on the battlefield. As American Elephant implies, unless repealing DADT will improve military readiness the military has nothing to gain from doing so, and nothing to lose from keeping the status quo. Having DADT hasn’t harmed military readiness so there’s no need to repeal it, unless social engineering is your goal.

    Comment by Seane-Anna — November 16, 2010 @ 12:39 am - November 16, 2010

  10. If B. Daniel and other supporters of repeal really care about military readiness they’d be FOR DADT. Why? Because DADT hasn’t harmed military readiness.

    Actually, Seane-Anna, that is demonstrably untrue as well. The military has discharged a number of translators and/or interpreeters (Arab or Pashtun, or something, I forget which language exactly) that are in very short supply and are desperately needed, for no other reason than because they ran afoul of DADT. So yes, DADT does harm military readiness and effectiveness.

    The question is which policy harms effectiveness more.

    A) are there enough self-styled, so-called Christians in the military who are so intolerant that they will refuse to re up, or sign up to begin with if gays are allowed to serve openly that it will be more harmful to let gays serve openly, or
    B) will it be more harmful if good soldiers and people with needed talents continue to get kicked out because they feel the need to tell everyone at work about their boyfriends or their night at the gay bar.

    Both you AND Dan are pushing social policy here — and please dont try to pretend otherwise — when the only relevant issue is military effectiveness, especially when the country is currently in the middle of two wars for crying out loud.

    The purpose of the military is no more to uphold Christian values than it is to embrace leftists values. The purpose of the military is to kill our enemies and protect Americans lives and interests. Period.

    Comment by American Elephant — November 16, 2010 @ 1:05 am - November 16, 2010

  11. American Elephant, I don’t buy the gay Arab speakers argument that supporters of repeal always bring up. Yes, gay military personnel who speak Arabic or Pashtun have been discharged but the only way that would harm military readiness is if EVERYONE in the military who speaks those languages are gay. And that’s not the case, I’m sure.

    AE, give me the details one how discharging Arabic or Pashtun speaking gays has actually harmed the ability of the US armed forces to “…kill our enemies and protect Americans’ lives and interests”. The mere act of discharging soldiers doesn’t, by itself, harm military readiness or effectiveness. If it did then you and other supporters of repeal should be against ALL discharges from the military. I mean, how many “good soldiers and people with needed talents” have been discharged for reasons unrelated to DADT? Why doesn’t anybody talk about them?

    If “…the only relevant issue is military effectiveness…” and if discharging soldiers automatically harms military effectiveness as you and other pro-repeal Americans imply then, AE, demanding a ban on discharging rather than demanding the repeal of DADT would be the best way to respect and protect the military’s ability to do its job. But I don’t expect you or B. Daniel to see it that way.

    Comment by Seane-Anna — November 16, 2010 @ 7:30 am - November 16, 2010

  12. American Elephant, I don’t buy the gay Arab speakers argument that supporters of repeal always bring up. Yes, gay military personnel who speak Arabic or Pashtun have been discharged but the only way that would harm military readiness is if EVERYONE in the military who speaks those languages are gay. And that’s not the case, I’m sure.

    Going to disagree with you here Seena-Anna,

    The problem with intelligence (military, not the kind that Levi lacks) is the sheer volume of it. People argue that the Government had all the pieces to put together 9/11 was going to happen.

    They’re right.

    Now take all those puzzle pieces, and then mix in 5 other puzzles. Put them in a bag and draw at random. Now have someone come and occasionally tell you you can’t use that piece, it has to go on the other side of the wall. Oh, and you’re on a timer.

    Wouldn’t you rather have 5 or six other folks working with you? That’s what DADT did to our intelligence sifting efforts. The information is out there, just some assembly required. That’s how DADT has hurt us.

    Comment by The_Livewire — November 16, 2010 @ 7:43 am - November 16, 2010

  13. I’ve been trying to convey on several threads that many are still under the delusion that Harry Reid actually favors repeal and allowing gays to serve in the military. HE DOESN’T! His actions surrounding the Senate PROVE that he doesn’t! He knew exactly what he was doing by cravenly putting the DREAM ACT (which I’m disgusted to see is still bumping around inspiring rallies) into the military funding vote.

    What I find appalling is that he continues to then turn around and smile and give us reassurances and people continue to believe him. He is doing the equivalent of wiping his butt with Daniel Choi’s West Point Ring.

    WAKE UP! He is just as much an adversary (even worse to some degree) as the Elaine Donnellys, Maggie Gallaghers and Pat Robertsons. And I’ll least give them credit for being more honest in their views. And there are a few other Democrats throwing $^it-eating grins at us and calmly assuring us they are fighting to allow all our brave service members to serve while doing actions that prove the opposite. Democrats such as…. oh yeah, OBAMA and his sycophants.

    Why is this important? Because the more thoughtful Republican members of the new Congress, even if they oppose gays in the military now, actually have more lee-way to be reasoned and negotiated with and open to changing their view than this Senate leader and the president who after all, are being “fearless advocates” in a hopey, changey kind of way and so don’t need to change their thinking or approach.

    Comment by PopArt — November 16, 2010 @ 8:26 am - November 16, 2010

  14. Poll shows that even conservatives favor repeal.

    Color me doubtful.

    Did the poll question read: “Do you favor repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?” If not, I need to see the question. Too many polls are written with “push” questions that are designed to make news. I suspect the question was more like: “If the military leaders decide to drop Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would you agree with their decision?”

    My skepticism arises from being a life-long conservative. For the most part, I do not like political/civilian interference with the military.

    Comment by Heliotrope — November 16, 2010 @ 9:54 am - November 16, 2010

  15. Helio, as someone who once worked at the Roper Center in my grad days, I can tell you that we often had internal conflicts about how to phrase a set of polling questions –what we called the survey instrument. We worried, as professional techs, what the poll’s sponsor(s) might say/think about the polling’s veracity if the questions weren’t sensitive to the sponsor’s position. Push-polling hadn’t been conceived yet.

    I remember one we did where we were surveying rank & file Presbys about the disconnect they felt with their uber-liberal clerical leadership and it was a conservative rank & file group of church elders, not clerics, paying for the $450,000 survey… with the promise of another 2-3 surveys to be conducted at a later date. Cha-ching, cha-ching.

    We were a business first… hungry, eager-to-please grad students second.

    That’s all that matter then. Ultimately, that survey led us to do work for Moynihan, Jeannie Kirkpatrick and a whole bunch of fledgling conservative Dems later known as NeoCons. And it allowed us all to eat steak, drive BMWs and live high on the hog most of our last three yrs of grad school.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — November 16, 2010 @ 10:36 am - November 16, 2010

  16. dan, you have a bad habit of stating your opinion as though it’s a fact. sorry, but the votes on the DADT repeal speak for themselves, and every single republican in the senate voted in favor of maintaining the repeal. the best thing that can be said about collins is that she thinks that senate procedure is more important than civil equality.

    Comment by Chad — November 16, 2010 @ 11:14 am - November 16, 2010

  17. Aw, come on Chad Are we always being lectured by the left about being bipartisan? Feel the bipartisan reaction to Harry’s poison pill.

    He throws a bit of scrap to the floor and the kicked puppies of the left didge the boot to lap it up.

    Comment by The_Livewire — November 16, 2010 @ 12:19 pm - November 16, 2010

  18. Did the poll question read: “Do you favor repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?”

    In the July 2009 Gallup poll, the question read, “Do you favor or oppose allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military?” 58% of self-identified conservatives said “favor”.

    Comment by Alex — November 16, 2010 @ 2:54 pm - November 16, 2010

  19. Re: American Elephant talking about the majority of Americans supporting or opposing something such as gay marriage.

    Good thing a majority of Americans still believes in the First Amendment! If they didn’t, I suppose we could overturn that and deny people free speech.

    The issue at hand is whether or not such and such a policy is a good and just policy, not whether a majority of people support it. In fact, the founders purposely put in safeguards against tyranny of the majority.

    So argue all you want about whether gay marriage is right or wrong, but the fact that a majority is against it is completely irrelevant. (In fact, I suppose the reason a majority is against it is because they think it is wrong for some reason. A majority is not against it simply because of the fact that a majority is against it.)

    Comment by Mitch — November 16, 2010 @ 3:06 pm - November 16, 2010

  20. still love to turn to that great Nate Silver’s Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage Appears to Shift at Accelerated Pace

    love the graph: http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2010/08/opinion-on-same-sex-marriage-appears-to.html

    from Nate: Something to bear in mind is that it’s only been fairly recently that gay rights groups — and other liberals and libertarians — shifted toward a strategy of explicitly calling for full equity in marriage rights, rather than finding civil unions to be an acceptable compromise. While there is not necessarily zero risk of backlash resulting from things like court decisions — support for gay marriage slid backward by a couple of points, albeit temporarily, after a Massachusetts’ court’s ruling in 2003 that same-sex marriage was required by that state’s constitution — it seems that, in general, “having the debate” is helpful to the gay marriage cause, probably because the secular justifications against it are generally quite weak.

    Comment by rusty — November 16, 2010 @ 3:26 pm - November 16, 2010

  21. The_Livewire at #12: I understand where you’re coming from but your argument is weak to me. You seem to be implying that intelligence failures are caused only by DADT. Do you really believe that? How do you explain intelligence failures before DADT was in place?

    Comment by Seane-Anna — November 16, 2010 @ 9:04 pm - November 16, 2010

  22. The_Livewire, why do you always spell my name “Seena-Anna”?

    Comment by Seane-Anna — November 16, 2010 @ 9:08 pm - November 16, 2010

  23. Again I say too much time and energy is wasted arguing
    about DADT. We did not feel the need for it in WW2. We hd gays in the military then. I did not know any until we got out of uniform. One was a B17 pilot having flown 44 missions in combat. Another was a gunner and got shot down ovr Bulgaria while bombing the oil fields. And I am sure that there are thousands and thousands laying in the many cemeteries in Europe and in the bottom of the Pacific.

    So why DADT now? Is it because it is now frowned upon being a gentleman? I took my daughter to Australia and the people could not talk enough how wonderful the Yanks were that were stationed there during the War. That was the same in Ireland and the Brittish Isles. You can be gay and still a gentleman with or without DADT. To many gays walk around with a chip on their sholder.

    Bruce and Dan you have a wonderful blog. It it wasn’t I would not be spending my time reading it.

    Comment by John W — November 17, 2010 @ 3:03 am - November 17, 2010

  24. Becasue I’m prone to misspellings.

    And your argument was that it didn’t have an impact losing translators unless we lost them all. I’m saying there’s a definitive impact on sifting intelligence if we lost even a significant portion of them.

    Now the wikileaks leaker should be nailed to a wall and forced to listen to Levi prattle on until he begs for death, but the fact that he’s gay doesn’t make him less of an ass, or more of one.

    Comment by The_Livewire — November 17, 2010 @ 6:34 am - November 17, 2010

  25. The 2 things that should not pass in lame duck Congress is both repeal of DADT and The Dream Act. Wait until the next Congress. Start over.

    These issues are so mishandled by Reid that I don’t think he can recover. Besides, “he won” his re-election so any bad feelings will be extended for another Congress. Maybe he will remain ineffective into the next Congress. I don’t think there was enough debate on DADT and its repeal. The lack of amendments for instance. You can’t finish the whole think in 6 weeks.

    The only thing that should pass is extension of Bush tax cuts.

    Comment by anon23532 — November 17, 2010 @ 12:17 pm - November 17, 2010

  26. “And your argument was that it didn’t have an impact losing translators unless we lost them all.” No, my argument was that it wouldn’t harm military readiness and effectiveness to lose a couple of gay translators because gay translators aren’t the only translators the military has. I’m sorry if I didn’t make my argument clearer, but I stand by it.

    If military intelligence is so fragile that it can’t stand any interruptions then you and other supporters of repeal should be opposed to all discharges, especially during war time. Otherwise, it looks like you’re arguing that discharges harm the military ONLY when the discharged soldier is a homosexual who “ran a foul of DADT”. And that just doesn’t make sense.

    Comment by Seane-Anna — November 17, 2010 @ 9:14 pm - November 17, 2010

  27. “Becasue I’m prone to misspellings.” Oh.

    Comment by Seane-Anna — November 17, 2010 @ 9:14 pm - November 17, 2010

  28. He knew exactly what he was doing by cravenly putting the DREAM ACT (which I’m disgusted to see is still bumping around inspiring rallies) into the military funding vote.

    He knew full well that there were many people in congress who could care less about homosexuals serving in the military, and were absolutely opposed to turning the country over to illegal aliens.

    it seems that, in general, “having the debate” is helpful to the gay marriage cause, probably because the secular justifications against it are generally quite weak.

    But what is the secular justification for redefining marriage?

    Comment by Michael Ejercito — November 17, 2010 @ 9:33 pm - November 17, 2010

  29. Seane Anna (I double chedned this time),

    The point is that specialists, who have no crime other than their choice of bedmates, are needed. I’m all for waterboarding terrorists (and Levi) to get information. I’m all for the military not discharging for buggery, especially for valuable assets. (pun intended) ‘teh gheys’ have served in the American military with distinction since von Steuben, and some are more famous in history (google ‘Thebian Speckled Band’).

    As for retention, we do have the ‘stop loss’ policy. We didn’t used to have women in them military (I’m still opposed to that) but it was determined it would work. We didn’t have an integrated military (thank you Woodrow Wilson for that idea) We do now, and it’s a good thing. Why wouldn’t we allow ‘teh ghey’ in the military as long as a) they’re held to the same code of conduct as everyone else and b) they do their frakking jobs?

    Comment by The_Livewire — November 18, 2010 @ 7:06 am - November 18, 2010

  30. Why wouldn’t we allow ‘teh ghey’ in the military as long as a) they’re held to the same code of conduct as everyone else and b) they do their frakking jobs?

    There are concerns that the sexual dynamics will undermine discipline.

    Of course, we have a similar historical example in the integration of women into the military.

    I’m all for the military not discharging for buggery, especially for valuable assets. (pun intended) ‘teh gheys’ have served in the American military with distinction since von Steuben, and some are more famous in history (google ‘Thebian Speckled Band’).

    One of them was one of the first gay servicemen to successfully challenge his homosexuality-based discharge.

    Comment by Michael Ejercito — November 18, 2010 @ 1:58 pm - November 18, 2010

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