Ferdinand and Barack

Maybe the answer to the chorus of voices demanding, with respect to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, “Whats Obama waiting for?” is that he’s been waiting for a chorus of voices.

Andrew Sullivan notes that Colin Powell, one of the fathers of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, wants to see it changed, and asks in outrage, “With even DADT’s former supporters calling for a review, what is Obama waiting for?”

Francesco Guicciardini answered that question almost 400 years ago:

Whenver His Catholic Majesty Ferdinand of Aragon, most powerful and wise prince, was about to embark on some new enterprise, or make a decision of great importance, he went about it in such a way that, before his intentions were known, the whole court and the people were already insisting and exclaiming that the king must do such and so. Then he would announce his decision, just when all hoped and clamored for it.

Guicciardini also has a comment on Bill Clinton’s approach:

If you attempt certain things at the right time, they are easy to accomplish: in fact, they almost get done by themselves. If you undertake them before the time is right, not only will they fail, but they will often become impossible to accomplish even when the time would have been right.

If by waiting an extra year Obama can make this come from the Pentagon brass hats rather than having to force it down their throats, it will be worth it, not just from his viewpoint but from the viewpoint of gay servicemembers.

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: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com