Maddow: Blindly hoping Senate will end ‘don’t ask’ is ‘not a plan’

By David Edwards
Thursday, October 14, 2010 13:19 EDT
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After a federal judge issued an injunction against the enforcement of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy on Tuesday, hopes were high among gay rights activists that the White House would allow the decision to stand.

By Wednesday, however, remarks by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had made it clear that the Obama administration was likely to appeal the ruling and ask for a stay of the injunction, while depending on the Senate “to move forward in implementing an end to this policy in an orderly way.”

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was outraged by the administration’s approach, questioning Gibbs’ insistence that “the bottom line is this is a policy that is going to end.”

“Unless you believe that the United States Senate, after this year’s elections, is going to do the right thing by gay service members,” Maddow charged, “then the decision by the Obama administration whether or not to appeal this ruling is likely a decision between killing this policy now and letting it survive, probably forever.”

“A plan that has no chance of becoming reality is not a real plan, no matter how much you say it is,” she emphasized. “You can either end it or you can stop saying you will.”

“Here’s the thing,” Maddow explained. “The White House is assuring everyone that the policywill end. And when you drill down on how they say it will end, they say it will end because the Senate will end it — even though the Senate has just chosen not to end it. And the Senate is poised to get more conservative, not less, in the imminent elections. This is incoherence.”

Last month, the Senate voted 56 to 43 to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell but failed to break a filibuster by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) that was supported by every Republican as well as two conservative Democrats.

Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network commented at the time, “We lost because of the political maneuvering dictated by the mid-term elections. … We now have no choice but to look to the lame duck session where we’ll have a slim shot. The Senate absolutely must schedule a vote in December when cooler heads and common sense are more likely to prevail once midterm elections are behind us.”

That hope of “cooler heads” is apparently what the Obama administration is counting upon, but Maddow was skeptical. She pointed out that according to political science professor Aaron Belkin, “Unless the president declines to appeal the ruling in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States, the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy probably will remain law for years. ”

She also noted that her show has been “told in all of our queries today that anyone coming out in the military now is absolutely still at risk of being fired for doing so. It is not over. The policy is still in effect.”

“This is not the conclusion I expected to reach after today’s reporting on the subject,” Maddow concluded. “Everybody says the Justice Department appealing this ruling is an inevitability. It does not have to be. It is not inevitable. If the administration believes the law is unconstitutional, there is precedent that supports the administration not appealing it and letting the law die.”

This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Oct. 13, 2010.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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