The state of play for DADT repeal

THE STATE OF PLAY FOR DADT REPEAL…. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the leading anti-gay opponent of repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” appeared on CNN yesterday to insist that the status quo is “working.” It was an odd claim — we’re kicking fine soldiers out of the military, at a severe cost, without a good reason. Nothing about this “works.”

Hoping to defend his incoherence, McCain went on to blast President Obama for even committing to the change in policy in the first place.

“The fact is, this was a political promise made by an inexperienced President or candidate for Presidency of the United States.”

This is cheap, pathetic rhetoric. Obama didn’t make a “political promise”; he outlined a policy agenda, which included this shift in service requirements. It has, in case McCain hasn’t noticed, been endorsed by the Defense Secretary, the Joint Chiefs chairman, a majority of the public, a majority of the House and a majority of the Senate.

What’s more, Obama’s not “inexperienced”; he’s been the president of the United States in a time of a crisis for the last 22 months — giving him exactly 22 months more experience in the big chair than the senator from Arizona.

I don’t imagine I’m the only one thinking the once-credible “maverick” is still a little bitter about losing the 2008 race (and what was left of his stature).

Still, if there was any hope that McCain might show some decency on this issue, and take seriously the wishes of the vast majority of the country, he made clear those hopes are in vain. It’s legacy time, and McCain wants to be remembered as the anti-gay crusader who fought progress at all costs.

Of course, it’s not just McCain. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also appeared on one of the Sunday shows, and insisted that DADT repeal was likely to die in the lame-duck session. As he sees it, it has “nowhere near” the Senate support it needs.

I guess we can debate the meaning of the word “near.” As of today, the defense spending bill that includes the repeal provision has 58 supporters and 42 opponents. If two Republicans break ranks allow the Senate to fund the troops, repeal will pass. So where’s this “nowhere near” talk coming from?

Nevertheless, these remarks underscore what will be a huge week in the larger DADT push. The Pentagon’s report on military attitudes will be released tomorrow, followed by Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on Thursday and Friday. Mark Thompson has a report on the state of play, including the fact that the final showdown on this may come as early as next week.