DADT dead-enders: time to move on

DADT DEAD-ENDERS: TIME TO MOVE ON…. It’s only been a few weeks since the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed, but I more or less assumed the right would move on to other issues by now. This was a resounding defeat for them — the vast majority of Americans backed DADT repeal, and it was approved with bipartisan support on Capitol Hill.

But dead-enders haven’t quite moved on. Likely presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty (R), for example, talked to the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer yesterday. The right-wing host asked specifically about whether the Minnesota governor is prepared to “work to reinstate the prohibition on open homosexual service in the military.” Pawlenty replied:

“Bryan, I have been a public and repeat supporter of maintaining Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but if you look at how the combat commanders and the combat units feel about it, the results of those kinds of surveys were different than the ones that were mostly reported in the newspaper and that is something I think we need to pay attention to. But I have been a public supporter of maintaining Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and I would support reinstating it as well.”

A few things to keep in mind. First, Fischer is one of the single most hate-filled figures in conservative politics, and for Pawlenty to even appear on his radio program does not speak well of Pawlenty’s judgment.

Second, Pawlenty’s support for reinstating the DADT policy is a reminder of just how far 2012 presidential hopefuls are prepared to go to impress far-right primary voters who’ll choose the Republican nominee. Don’t be too surprised if the GOP contest includes a competition to see which candidate can prove he/she hates gays more than the rest of the field.

And third, the right really needs to give up on this. Just last week, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), the new chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel panel, said he’d look for chances to bring back DADT, too.

Look, I know how much the right hates losing, and DADT had a long run. Last year, Republican almost beat back the effort to repeal the policy, but they came up short. The public wanted to see the change; military leaders wanted to see the change; and lawmakers in both parties approved the change. The moment President Obama held a celebration to sign the legislation, conservatives should have realized the game was up. There was a political fight, and they lost. Why keep pushing this?

That said, I don’t imagine Democrats mind, necessarily — if every Republican presidential candidate opposes a policy that 77% of the country supports, that’s likely good news for Dems.

* Update: Greg Sargent reminds me that the “DADT dead-enders” phrase was originally his idea for how to frame this a while back. Greg’s right; he came up with the line, not me.