In a Rolling Stone interview published this morning, President Barack Obama seemed to signal that he would continue to try and repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell through the legislative process and accommodate the work of the Pentagon’s review, despite the successful filibuster of the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act in the Senate and pressure from progressive activists and 69 House Democrats to try and end the ban by not appealing a recent federal court decision which found the policy unconstitutional.
The DADT remark came as Obama was stressing his administration’s accomplishments in its first two years in office and showing frustration over the lack of credit he has received. “I’ve been here two years, guys. And one of the things that I just try to remember is that if we have accomplished 70 percent of what we committed to in the campaign, historic legislation, and we’ve got 30 percent of it undone — well, that’s what the next two years is for, or maybe the next six,” Obama said. He did not directly say how he would meet his administration’s promise to end DADT before the end of the year, but signaled that it should be done in an “orderly” way:
OBAMA: Understandably, everybody has a great sense of urgency about these issues. But one of the things that I constantly want to counsel my friends is to keep the long view in mind. On social issues, something like “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Here, I’ve got the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff both committed to changing the policy. That’s a big deal.
ROLLING STONE: You get credit for that.
OBAMA: Now, I am also the commander in chief of an armed forces that is in the midst of one war and wrapping up another one. So I don’t think it’s too much to ask, to say “Let’s do this in an orderly way” — to ensure, by the way, that gays and lesbians who are serving honorably in our armed forces aren’t subject to harassment and bullying and a whole bunch of other stuff once we implement the policy. I use that as an example because on each of these areas, even those where we did not get some grand legislative victory, we have made progress. We have moved in the right direction.
The administration has thus far been reluctant to upset the repeal compromise the Democrats struck with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and has repeatedly suggested that it would stick to the legislative route, eschewing another option in which Obama could use his ‘stop loss’ authority to end the discharges.
Before the vote failed in the Senate, Vice President Joe Biden had described the legislative amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act as “the compromise we basically had to make to get the votes to finally repeal it.” ” I would prefer it not be orderly. I prefer it just end, boom, done. But that’s why that hasn’t happened.”
For more on what the administration can do to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell before the end of the year, check out yesterday’s Progress Report.