DADT Repeal and the McConnell Way

Looks like Republicans aren’t going to back down on their threat to filibuster a defense appropriations bill unless it’s stripped of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal legislation, and it looks like Democrats are going to cave.

Just as a pure political spectacle here, this is a thing to behold. Filibustering defense appropriations bills is politically risky. And to do it in order to support a hugely unpopular position on a related issue is a giant risk. It’d be one thing if 60% of the public was on the Republicans’ side about DADT. But it’s not. Instead this is a 70-30 issue that cuts against them.

But not only are they getting away with the filibuster, they’re turning their obstruction into a political winner by forcing the progressive community into circular firing squad mode. I try really hard to think of politics in terms of the substance of things rather than the quality of the performances, but from a sports fan type perspective you really have to admit that Mitch McConnell has delivered a gutsy virtuoso performance as a legislative leader. It takes a real kind of vision to recognize that relentless obstruction even of overwhelmingly popular progressive ideas can be turned into a political winner by creating fractures in the other side’s coalition. Meanwhile though the political reporter set admires nothing so much as a winner, I feel like they still haven’t really grasped how the McConnell Way works. But once you “get it” your understanding of the legislative landscape really starts to look different. And unfortunately for the country, I’m not sure they get it in the White House either.