Gay Netroots spooks Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina




Joe and I have long suspected that the White House likes to use Atlantic journalist and blogger Marc Ambinder to push out their talking points whenever an issue has them particularly spooked. And today was no different. Ambinder has a piece up today defending Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina from criticism leveled by the gay blogosphere.

A number of us have been saying for a while that Messina is an impediment to getting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed this year. And we’re not basing it on conjecture. We’re basing it on what he’s been saying in private meetings with the top gay groups.

And apparently all the criticism from the gay Netroots has Messina spooked. So the White House is now using Ambinder to fight back.

In today’s White House memo, Ambinder (who I do like) informs us that Messina isnt anti-gay at all. He’s as pro-gay as they come! (Yes, I’m sure he has a toaster.) In fact, Messina is the guy who convinced the military to start the process to end the ban!!! Give me a break. Joe and I are up on the details of a number of the private meetings Messina has had with the gay groups, and he has hardly acted like the second coming of Harvey Milk. If anything, he’s been a roadblock on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell from the very beginning. He was loathe to discuss the issue when first meeting with the groups at the beginning of the administration, and he made quite clear in a now famous meeting earlier this year that he wasn’t particularly excited about lifting the ban this year, even though, only five days before, his boss, the President of the United States, had promised in the State of the Union to lift the ban “this year.”

And yes, as Ambinder notes, earlier this year Messina, when discussing the prospect of repealing DADT this year, as his boss promised in the SOTU, famously lectured the gay groups on the fact that we were a nation involved in two wars. You might recognized that talking point. It’s one the Republicans use all the time to argue against repealing the ban. Here’s House Minority Leader John Boehner channeling Messina:

John McCain channeling Messina:

We have the best trained, best equipped, and most professional force in the history of our country, and the men and women in uniform are performing heroically in two wars. At a time when our armed forces are fighting and sacrificing on the battlefield, now is not the time to abandon the policy.

Mitt Romney channels Messina:

ROMNEY: My view is that the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy should be kept in place until conflict is over, at least until that time. And when — we’re in the middle of a war.

Okay, Romney forgot a war. But you get the idea.

The National Review:

No doubt, if most combat NCOs were asked whether they want the complexity of integrating openly gay soldiers into their units added to their already formidable tasks, they’d say no — waging two wars of counterinsurgency is already difficult enough. For us, that’s the most important consideration.

Now let me you show you how a Democrat should be using the phrase “two wars”:

SENATOR MARK UDALL (D-CO): As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I believe “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is harmful to our national security and readiness—especially since we are embroiled in two wars. And I believe the stories of these former service members reinforce the need to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

It’s also a famous Bush administration talking point. When in doubt, invoke a war or two so as to make the other party look less than patriotic.

Then there was the time that Messina cut Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, our lead gays in the military group, out of the loop of the White House’s top level discussions on repealing the ban because SLDN was fighting just a tad too forcefully for the President to keep his promise. This also is not conjecture. I knew of the White House’s problem with SLDN a year ago. And multiple additional sources have confirmed it today. Messina doesn’t like SLDN because they’re one of the few gay groups that doesn’t sit back and shut up when they’re lectured to about why the President just can’t keep his promises to our community. And the fact that Messina would, on behalf of the White House, diss our top gays in the military group, ignore their expertise in the effort to lift the ban as promised, pretty much explains why the White House strategy is as much of a mess as it is.

The rest of Ambinder’s piece is a bunch of bullshit. DOD needed this entire year to establish “legitimacy” for the repeal, Ambinder argues, that’s why they’re doing a year long study and putting off legislation until next year. BS. DOD said last May, a year ago, that they were moving ahead on figuring out implementation of the repeal, and what did they do? Nothing for 8 months. Had they started their study last year when they told us they were already working on this (and they weren’t), had they started building legitimacy last year when they claimed they were, they’d have their stupid study done now and we’d be able to repeal the law this year. But because DOD lied, because they dragged their feet, now we have to put repeal off until next year, when, conveniently, we don’t have a bat’s chance in hell of passing the repeal.

In case you hadn’t noticed, and the White House really hopes you don’t, next year is around the time many in Washington expect the House to be in control of the Republicans. You see, Democrats are expected to suffer heavy losses in November, significantly shrinking their congressional majority. Many fear that Dems will lose the House entirely. Good luck passing the repeal of DADT, DOMA, passing ENDA, or any other civil rights advance for gays and lesbians after that happens. And remember kids, the last time we lost control of the Congress, it took 14 years to get it back. So come back in 2024. Then the White House will really be our fierce advocate. Promise.

So spare us the talk about how all of this will be fixed next year. That’s bullshit that’s being peddled in the hopes that the gay public isn’t sophisticated enough to know that our chances next year are quickly approaching nil because of the elections.

Let’s get a few things clear.

1. President Obama promised in his State of the Union j
ust three months ago to repeal DADT this year. He even said “this year” twice. Don’t lecture us about how hard it is to lift the ban this year after your boss promised us this year, and made the promise only three months ago. Was he unaware of how hard it was when he gave the SOTU? Did he lie? Or did he change his mind and revoke a clear promise made before 50 million Americans? Either way, it’s not pretty, and we have a right to be mad.

2. Let’s just pretend that the President of the United States really does work for the Department of Defense, and not the other way around. And that therefore the poor insignificant commander in chief has no ability to tell the men and women who work for him what their orders are. And therefore we simply must have this cockamamy implementation study that for some unexplained reason is going to take until just after the November elections (what a coincidence).

Even if we admit all of that (and we don’t), why can’t we pass legislation this year that repeals the ban, but doesn’t implement the repeal until, say, February 1 of next year. Thus giving DOD all the time it needs to finish its implementation study?

You don’t hear Jim Messina, or Barack Obama for that matter, talking about that possibility, even though it gets around the problem of the Pentagon needing time to establish “legitimacy.” Why not? Because Messina, Obama and the rest of them don’t want to lift the ban, for whatever reason, and they’re grasping at straws to find reasons to say no.

No one thinks there’s a conspiracy against gays in the White House, a phrase that Ambinder uses repeatedly (apparently in an effort to diminish gay critics of Messina and the President as kooky (a common tactic used by this White House against progressive critics, and it’s sad, as it’s the tacky kind of thing George Bush would do)). What we think, what we know, is that gay and lesbian Americans aren’t that important to this President. So his staff can refer to our civil rights, our struggle for equality and acceptance, our efforts to realize the American dream, as some sort of not-very-important inconvenience that we should be embarrassed to even be mentioning in polite company.

Bottom line is that this President promised us repeatedly that he was going to repeal DADT, repeal DOMA, and pass ENDA. And he specifically promised to get DADT repealed this year. His current plan, however, is to ignore the last two, and push off the former until a time when it can’t pass.

We’re not conspiracy theorists, but we’re not stupid either.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1z3_TlYfbQ]


CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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