Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell legislation soon?

So says Barney Frank: “early next year.” And if the brass is all lined up, which it appears to be, the bill is a nightmare for Republicans on the Hill.

So reports The Hill, quoting Barney Frank as saying legislation will move “early next year.”

The Hill wraps this good news in what seems to me like bassackwards political analysis:

The move would play to the liberal base of President Barack Obama’s administration, but could pose risks by introducing a controversial issue into an election year in which Democrats are wary of losing seats, particularly in the House.

That would have been true about any “stroke of the pen” option pitting the President against the Pentagon. But if by early next year the ducks are all in a row, with the proposal coming from the Secretary of Defense with the backing of the Service secretaries and the Joint Chiefs, the major risks would be on the Republican side.

The GOP base will be all in an uproar about this, but somewhere between two-thirds and three-quaters of the voters are willing to have themselves defended by people of any sexual orientation. That number will likely go up after the brass weighs in about the military costs of losing people in key MOS’s, and after Lt. Choi has a chance to testify.

That will give Republicans on the Hill a choice between enraging and demobilizing the base – or even stimulating a primary challenge – and voting against the brass on an issue where the voters and the brass agree, which would be sure to annoy centrists and independents. (Joe Lieberman is going to carry the bill in the Senate.)

Can you say “wedge issue”?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

4 thoughts on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell legislation soon?”

  1. A blog post at "Pam's House Blend" linked a Google spreadsheet lobbying target list: 180 Representatives (as of 10/14) are sponsoring DADT repeal already. Only 1 of them is a Republican, no surprise.

  2. What's more, the list's creators only identified 17 more Republicans as serious candidates to lobby, b/c of their votes on hate crimes or ENDA. And one, Mark Kirk R-Ill, has already come out pro-DADT.

  3. Completely agree with Mark that this is a wedge issue working for Dems. I think it was planned all along to wait until 2010. Good politics but raises an ethical purity issue for people who think that's essential as soldiers get discharged in 2009 for no reason. Hopefully they'll include reinstatement for anyone who wants to come back.

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