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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The GOP's DADT Problem

Before we get started, I just want to say that Texas GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert has distinguished himself as the dumbest goddam person in either chamber of congress. Considering that this title is competitive -- he beats Michele Bachmann, Steve King, and Joe Wilson -- we can assume that Louie has a real talent for idiocy. It was Louie who warned us of terror babies, after all. So he's really on the ball.

Still, I think he's better off in congress. Gohmert used to be a Court of Appeals judge, where he could probably cause a lot more damage. Here, he's just one vote out of 435. Sure, he still has more power than a man of his limited intelligence should safely have, but if America has to be saddled with a Louie Gohmert, this is probably the safest place to keep him. Here's the great man himself on repealing "don't ask, don't tell":

I'm not even going to bother pointing out all the places he's just plain provably wrong. Let's just save some time and say it's pretty much all wrong; suffice it to say that Gohmert -- a big Israel booster -- disses his second favorite country by suggesting they're on the verge of collapse. See, they have gays in their military. By Louie's argument, Israel is headed "toward the end of their existence as a great nation." It's weird, but that's not what the Bible predicts, Lou. The good book says Israel is going to become larger and more powerful. Why do you hate the Book of Revelations?

Of course, Louis Gohmert is that very special individual who's almost always wrong. By virtue of his buffoonish incompetence as a legislator, he serves as a sort of anti-compass -- if Louie's headed in a certain direction, you can be nearly 100% sure that it's the wrong way. And his position on DADT demonstrates the rule, not the exception.

Surprisingly, Louie's plea citing fictional history did not sway the august 111th congress in the House of Representatives. The repeal won by a pretty wide margin -- 250-175. This is a stand-alone piece of legislation -- not part of a military appropriations measure, as the other attempts at repeal have been -- and this stands a better chance of passing. So, having gotten past Louie Gohmert and the perpetually wrong God Squad, it moves on to the Senate.

Huffington Post:

The Senate has at least 62 votes to repeal the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said Thursday morning.

"I have to give Joe Lieberman credit. We were told, Steny Hoyer was told by the Senate leadership, and particularly by Senator Lieberman -- Senator Collins and I will give her credit too, she has been good on this from our standpoint -- that if we passed it as a separate bill that would help," Frank said on the Sirius XM Satellite Radio show "POTUS." "There are at least 62 senators -- more than the 60 that is needed under that outrageous filibuster rule, but at least we have even met that -- who are committed to repealing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' It was tied up with other things and they said they couldn't do it until they got a tax bill worked out, until they got the spending bill. All the obstacles that people have said existed to a straight up-or-down vote have now been met. And unless there are some liars in the Senate, we are going to get this done."

"Unless there are some liars in the Senate" gives me pause -- because there most definitely are -- but, for the most part, I'm feeling optimistic. Few actions congress could take would be as popular as repealing DADT -- 77% of Americans oppose the discriminatory policy. Yet the majority of the Republican Party is on the side of the unfortunate Louie Gohmert -- no repeal, no way, no how.

"Republicans have made a pledge to America to listen to the American people and a pledge to focus on their priorities," soon-to-be House Speaker John Boehner said after the elections, "and that's exactly what we are going to do." John Boehner voted against repeal and in opposition to the majority opinion of the American people. Barney Frank may wonder about liars in the Senate, but we don't have to wonder about liars in the House. Maybe he meant he'd start giving a crap what the people want in the next session of congress.

If, as things look now, the repeal passes, is signed by the President, and becomes law, expect the religious right to go into fullblown apocalypse mode. There will be calls for repeal from some quarters, many of them influential in the GOP's coalition. What Republicans do with those appeals will tell us a lot. I always say that when a Republican talks about change, it means they want to change something back. Forward is just not a direction conservatives are comfortable with. At heart fearful, conservatives dislike change and would rather make little tweaks from within the comfort of a (seemingly) safe status quo. This is why the Republican Party has no new ideas -- just old retreads from the Reagan administration.

The question for Republicans as they take over the House in the 112th congress will be -- as it is with healthcare reform -- "forward or backward?"

If I had to bet, I'd put my money on "forward" -- although it'd be a reluctant and griping "forward." Republicans will back off their position and ignore the calls for repeal. Eventually, those calls will go away. And they'll ignore them because it's better to be on the unpopular losing side than the unpopular winning side. Republicans may be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century on this, but they will be dragged, the kicks will be weak, and the screams will be less than energetic.

It'll be one of those rare occasions when political cowardice is actual good for the country.


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