Out of whole cloth

At the jump, I’ve pasted in the full texts of two items.   The first  is a blog p0st by John Aravosis about comments by National Security Adviser Jim Jones on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  The second is the AP story Aravosis links to.

The extraordinary thing is that the AP story provides absolutely no support for the post that links to it. The post is about National Security Adviser Jim Jones saying that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will have to wait until the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are over. But the AP story does not quote Jones as saying anything remotely like that.

Aravosis heads his piece “National Security Adviser:  Obama won’t lift gay ban until Iraq and Afghan wars finished – and even then, if there are more wars,” and goes on to say, “Apparently, General Jones would have us believe that President Obama wasn’t aware that we were fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when he promised to lift the gay ban during the campaign in exchange for our votes. So, Jones tells us today, Obama can’t get to that particular promise right now because he’s busy fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Pretty disappointing, right?  Except that Jones said no such thing, according to the story Aravosis links to.  That story is headed “Obama to take on military gay ban at `right time’  ” and quotes Jones as saying “I don’t think it’s going to be — it’s not years, but I think it will be teed up appropriately.”
Then the story goes on to quote Harry Reid as having written a letter to DoD saying,  “At a time when we are fighting two wars, I do not believe we can afford to discharge any qualified individual who is willing to serve our country.
In the AP story, Jones says nothing about “two wars,” and the only person who does say anyting about “two wars” urges them as a reason to change the policy quickly.
Anyone can make a mistake, and I’ve made more than my share.  But Aravosis is no fool.  This is the sort of mistake you only make when the (wrong) answer you got is the answer you desperately wanted to get.
Aravosis -and he’s not alone – seems to be deeply invested in a narrative of betrayal, in which Barack Obama is selling out progressive causes generally and gay people in particular.
The Red team has found it fairly easy to pivot from eight years of “The President is always right” to the current “The President is always wrong.”  But some of the Blue seems to have gotten so used to “The President is always wrong” that they don’t want to give it up.
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Sunday, October 4, 2009 National Security Adviser: Obama won’t lift gay ban until Iraq and Afghan wars finished – and even then, if there are more wars…
Apparently, General Jones would have us believe that President Obama wasn’t aware that we were fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan when he promised to lift the gay ban during the campaign in exchange for our votes. So, Jones tells us today, Obama can’t get to that particular promise right now because he’s busy fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Uh huh.
So when exactly are both of those wars going to be over? I’m guessing some time after Obama leaves office. And that of course assumes that we don’t have more wars to “distract” the president. Jones just set us back. Again. He just gave the Republicans, and conservative Dems, the perfect talking point. Should anyone – members of Congress or the administration – move to lift the ban any time before these wars are over, our opponents will simply quote General Jones saying that to lift the ban during war time would be too distracting.
What could Jones have said? How about, there’s a new analysis from a Department of Defense-related publication that same the ban can be lifted without hurting morale and cohesion. Or how about saying that the President just wrote to Senator Reid, agreeing to work together to lift the ban?
Nope. None of that. All we got was another reason why the president may never be able to keep his promise. The Obama administration is doing next to nothing – and perhaps nothing altogether – to move the ball forward on repealing DADT. This isn’t the kind of policy you just wake up one morning and say “ah, today is the day to lift the ban.”
Bill Clinton found that out the hard way. It takes months, if not years, of preparation. Working the PR angles, the media, the grassroots, the public at large, the Pentagon. While we have no idea what if anything Obama is doing to work the Pentagon – though Jones’ repeated unhelpful remarks suggest that whatever the president is doing, it isn’t working – we certainly do know what he’s doing on the Hill. Zippo. Harry Reid had to write Obama a letter last week begging him help.
And in terms of lobbying the public, we get unhelpful statements like what Jones did, again, today. In the end, don’t think that Jones is simply freelancing. There is no way a senior administration official goes on TV and keeps screwing up like this. At first it’s a screw up. After this many times, it’s part of the plan. And the plan is to move the goal posts again and again and again until Obama can pass his gay rights promises to the next president, assuming we get another Democrat elected this century.
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WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama will focus “at the right time” on how to overturn the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military, his national security adviser said Sunday.

“I don’t think it’s going to be — it’s not years, but I think it will be teed up appropriately,” James Jones said.

The Democratic-led Congress is considering repealing the 1993 law. Action isn’t expected on the issue until early next year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently wrote Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked to share their views and recommendations on the contentious policy. In Sept. 24 letters, Reid also asked for a review of the cases of two U.S. officers who were discharged from the military because of their sexuality.

“At a time when we are fighting two wars, I do not believe we can afford to discharge any qualified individual who is willing to serve our country,” Reid wrote.

Jones said Obama “has an awful lot on his desk. I know this is an issue that he intends to take on at the appropriate time. And he has already signaled that to the Defense Department. The Defense Department is doing the things it has to do to prepare, but at the right time, I’m sure the president will take it on.”

As a candidate, Obama signaled support for repealing the law. To the disappointment of gay-rights supporters, he has yet to made a move since taking office in January. The White House has said it will not stop the military from dismissing gays and lesbians who acknowledge their sexuality.

Last year, 634 members of the military were discharged for being gay, or .045 percent of the active-duty U.S. force, according to an Aug. 14 congressional report.

The largest number of gays who were ousted under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy came in 2001, when 1,227 were discharged, or .089 of the force.

The House is considering legislation to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allow people who have been discharged under the policy to rejoin the military.

Jones appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union.”Sunday, October 4, 2009


Comments

  1. Vance Maverick says

    One can understand activists' desire for a clear declaration from Obama. I've read (and essentially accept) the various arguments for Obama's indirection, but imagining myself as an activist for this just cause, I think I too would be frustrated.

    But note how the unsourced claim in the third paragraph is actually reinforced by Jones's words — "it's not years". The reporter is predicting as clearly as possible that DADT will be repealed next year.

  2. Justin says

    I agree with your point w/r/t Aravosis' characterization of the article and Jones' quote. However, I also understand Aravosis' frustration with the President. I think there are many of us who feel the same way, whether it arises from DADT, the stimulus package, health care reform or any of a number of other issues. Part of it represents a frustration with Democratic leadership in general, and as the figurehead of the Party Obama receives more than his fair share, perhaps.

    This is just a guess, as I am not a gay man, but I can imagine that after 8 years of being vilified by BushCo, many gays and lesbians placed too great of a hope in Obama. After all, he did campaign on repealing DADT. And now, not only has he made no move to do so, but he has allowed the military to continue discharging gays and lesbians. I imagine many gays and lesbians feel like some hardcore pro-lifers feel about the GOP. Though, in fairness, at least the forced birth lobby got a couple of SCOTUS Justices.

  3. Yusifu says

    Aravosis is reading a lot from "at the right time," but it's not completely unreasonable. But perhaps it would be better to avoid chastising groups of which you aren't a member about their impatience for receiving equal treatment?

    • Mark Kleiman says

      "Not completely unreasonable"? He quotes Jones as saying that DADT won't be replealed while the wars are on. Jones says no such thing. Impatience is one thing; inventing facts is another.

  4. Napoleon says

    I quit reading Aravosis' site about 3 or 4 months ago because he had become completely unreadable with stuff like this.

  5. Geoff says

    "Aravosis -and he’s not alone – seems to be deeply invested in a narrative of betrayal, in which Barack Obama is selling out progressive causes generally and gay people in particular."

    Right, because the President has accomplished so much of what he ran on. Why look at everything he's done for the gay community. The travel ban…gone! DOMA, repealed! And of course, there's no reason whatsoever to think that Democrats would ever sell out our interests while making a few nice speeches in order to keep the campaign contributions flowing. That's never happened before!

    If Aravosis, Sullivan and others fret about Obama half-stepping on every single issue of importance to the gay and lesbian community, if every single statement that representatives of his administration make is closely inspected for signs of further betrayal and kow-towing to the religious nutjob right, you have only the Democratic party and the Rahm Emanuels of the world to blame for it.