It has been less than a week since President Obama made an announcement about the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy during the State of the Union address and already the backtracking, double talk and delays have begun. Despite the very public presidential announcement it appears that the repeal of DADT won’t be happening anytime soon. We might have actually seen some progress if the president had started working on the repeal last year when Democrats still controlled Congress. But almost no one in Washington expects the Democrats to pass the repeal in 2010 during an election year, a fact that President Obama must have been well aware of before he made his announcement. And in much the same way that President Obama handed off healthcare reform earlier in the year to Congress for a slow walk to nowhere, he now seems similarly content to continue his hands-off approach and will cede leadership of the DADT repeal to Defense Secretary Gates and Congress. For their part, the Defense Department has now released a delaying statement saying the repeal will be a “several-year process.”
No one, including the president, seems to want to talk about this open ended interim time period. Senator Carl Levin has rescheduled the DADT hearings to begin on Tuesday and an announcement by Secretary Gates is expected. Hopefully he can address some of the many important questions left unanswered by President Obama’s statement. Such as, why is there no set date for the repeal? Will there be a moratorium on discharging openly gay soldiers from military service while this “years long” process is worked out? What about the soldiers like Lt. Dan Choi who were recently discharged through DADT? Even more importantly, is this truly a priority for the president, and if so, why isn’t he more directly involved with the process? Does he agree with this open-ended approach? And if not, why has he allowed these delaying tactics by the Defense Department to go unchallenged? They are not even out of the gate on this and sadly it’s already looking like nothing more than political posturing in an effort to pay lip service to an angry demographic during an election year.