Candidate Barack Obama, running for president, vowed to end the ludicrous Pentagon policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which, since it was established in 1993 by President Clinton has required gay and lesbian members of the uniformed services to hide their sexual orientation or be drummed out of the service.
In 2009, just installed in the White House, President Obama reiterated that the policy “doesn’t contribute to our national security.”
But now that a federal judge has ruled the policy to be unconstitutional, and has more recently issued an injunction barring the Pentagon from enforcing it, the president has responded not by deciding to let the court order stand, thus ending this particular form of discrimination against gays and lesbians, but rather by appealing the decision in an attempt to reverse it.
This is a case of the President/Commander-in-Chief following his own pathetic political policy of “Don’t Act, Don’t Lead.”
Cowed by opposition from his own Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who wants time to “study” the issue of elimiinating Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and from his generals, many of whom are opposed outright to gays in the military, Obama has kicked the can down the road yet again.
Why should we be surprised? This is classic Obama.
Afraid of the Republicans, he gave us half an economic stimulus plan back in early 2009, and as a consequence, today we still have an official unemployment rate of 9.7% (and an unnofficial, real unemployment rate of double that).
Afraid of the banking lobby, he gave us a bank “reform” bill that leaves the “to-big-to-fail” banks even bigger and more dominant than they were when they brought the financial system crashing down back in 2008.
Afraid of the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the physician lobbies, he gave us a health care “reform” bill that will raise insurance costs for almost everyone, do little to slow the rise in health care costs for the nation as a whole, cause many employers to drop coverage of their employees, and that will still leave tens of millions of Americans without health insurance.
Afraid of the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and assorted other business groups, he dropped all efforts to pass any kind of climate change legislation.
Afraid of the oil industry, he has lifted a brief moratorium on deep-sea drilling, even as the hidden damage caused by the BP well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico continues to be slowly exposed by scientists.
And afraid of being called “soft on terrorism,” he failed to shut down the ongoing atrocities of the Guantanamo and Bagram prisons and has continued to permit the detention of people without any charge.
Given these monumental acts of political cowardice, is it any wonder that Obama has been unwilling to put an end to the overt discrimination of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” even when the opportunity was handed to him on a silver platter by a federal judge?
The president once wrote a book called “The Audacity of Hope.” What a joke! Any hope that this administration will do the right thing on almost any issue is vain, and as for audacity, this president doesn’t know the meaning of the word.
DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org