This morning, the Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan argued that the Pentagon’s decision to limit the number of people who can approve discharges under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a result of President Obama’s own realization that the Senate will not be able to pass legislation ending the policy after the midterm elections. Appearing on NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show, Sullivan said that the new discharge rules signaled an end to the policy:
SULLIVAN: I think the president has realized that he’s not going to be able to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the lame duck session. So he’s done something very interesting. He has reserved the decision to fire openly gay servicemembers to just five senior Pentagon officials. They will have to approve every discharge and they will not. So this thing will die on the vine.
Advocates expect the number of discharges to decrease, since the policy will effectively be in the hands of Obama’s appointees. Defense Department officials, however, are publicly stressing that the new discharge rules do not represent any kind of moratorium of the policy. “I wouldn’t interpret that as a higher bar, a lower bar,” a defense official told reporters on Thursday. “That is not intended to be a substantive change in the decision-making. You should not interpret that as we are going to separate more people or less people. We are going to elevate these decisions to ensure uniformity and care in the enforcement of the law. It is what it is,” the official said.
Earlier this week, White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett still insisted that the administration was committed to repealing the ban in the lame duck session. “We do fully intend to push forward…we are determined to get it done,” she said.