This one’s easy

The President should ask Harry Reid to keep the Senate in session until there’s a vote on DADT.

Of course the Senate should stay in session until there’s a vote on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and for that matter on the DREAM Act and maybe on a bunch of appointments. And there’s no better way to hold the Republican obstructionists’ feet to the fire than to make a spectacle of their obstruction by working through Christmas.

If the President is concerned – as he should be – at the perception that he isn’t willing to fight hard for what he believes in, he ought to say, in public, that he thinks the Senate ought to get the people’s business done before going home for the holidays. I like Obama’s disinclination to make cheap grandstand gestures; that’s part of the reason I’m so peeved about the call for a Federal wage freeze. But this is a gesture that would mean something.

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

9 thoughts on “This one’s easy”

  1. I guess for me Obama is done. If 2012 is between him and anyone worse (read any likely Republican) I guess I will hold my nose and vote Obama.

    If there is a 3rd. I dunno. Bush/Gore proved that there is a difference between the parties but Clinton/Obama seem to be proving that the difference isn't worth it.

  2. Nah, he should ask the Republicans what they want, and then do that. Why change?

    And when it comes down to Obama vs someone worse on the Republican side in 2012, I'll just stay home. Then again, the way it's going, Obama will be the Republican candidate in 2012.

  3. paulo writes: Bush/Gore proved that there is a difference between the parties but Clinton/Obama seem to be proving that the difference isn’t worth it.

    I understand the feeling of disappointment. But back in 2002-2003, what with the stampede to war, Condi's "mushroom cloud", Rumsfeld's WMDs, etc., I swore I'd never let myself underestimate the evil of the GOP again. I'm frequently disappointed in the Democrats, but the modern-day GOP is a moral monster. That difference is most definitely worth it.

    Hans writes: And when it comes down to Obama vs someone worse on the Republican side in 2012, I’ll just stay home. Then again, the way it’s going, Obama will be the Republican candidate in 2012.

    The Republican candidate will be someone well to the right of Obama. Staying home on election day is your choice, of course. I can see two reasons for doing that:

    (1) Perhaps one thinks that there would be no significant negative effect of replacing an Executive Branch headed by Obama with an Executive Branch headed by his Republican opponent.

    (2) Alternatively, perhaps one thinks that the negative consequences of that replacement would be outweighed by the personal feeling of moral superiority that would result from not sullying one's hands by voting for Obama.

    For me, personally, I might be tempted to make the claim in (1) at times for rhetorical effect, but it's not something I remotely actually believe. The fact that Obama's administration is highly imperfect doesn't erase the fact that a Palin/Romney/Huckabee/Gingrich/… administration would be much worse.

    Point (2) has never appealed to me, or at least not since I was much younger. After 2002-2004 I swore I'd never prioritize the emotional purity of my voting experience over the lives of the victims of the GOP's warfare (both class warfare and the more literal bomb-dropping kind).

  4. The idea that a Obama Presidency does any good in the world by slowing down the relentless march of the Republicans toward an impoverished authoritarian state loses much of its appeal as we continue marching relentlessly toward an impoverished authoritarian state.

    "You're really lucky, it could've been so much worse," is the kind of gentle lie you tell the victim of an accident, to soothe their damaged narcissism. Obama's Presidency isn't an accident. He's enacting and legitimating policies, which have already lost wars and crashed the economy.

    The futility of voting in a republic, which is no longer a democracy, is a hard thing to face. It may well be that it simply doesn't matter whether you vote in 2012. That's the lesson of Obama. Your vote is irrelevant. Everyone's vote is irrelevant. You, and your interests, simply do not matter to the political system.

    Mark Kleiman's fantasy-Obama is still an appealing character to me. It's what I wanted to believe. But, repeal of DADT is symbolism: it's the shiny makeup on the mask of kabuki politics. Obama "fighting" on behalf of policy that has 70% support in opinion polls, and falling short, or not, really doesn't matter, and it doesn't change, who Obama is. We're still fighting the longest, and one of the most absurdly expensive wars, in American history, with no clearly articulated strategic goal or endpoint. We're still in an economic depression, with wages falling, high and persistent unemployment, and very high rates of foreclosure, and our Democratic President is finding ways to undermine Social Security, while continuing the ill-advised fiscal policies of his predecessor.

    I don't know that it is wise to personalize the failings of the Obama Administration. From his point of view, what he is doing may be the politically possible, feasible course. He's the Lesser Evil candidate, enacting the lesser evil policy of kick the can down the road and hope something turns up. He was supposed to be the change he and we were looking for, but though he wrote the memo on that, he did not, I guess, read it.

  5. "But, repeal of DADT is symbolism: it’s the shiny makeup on the mask of kabuki politics."

    Bruce glad to see you are only half a cynic.

    As a full cynic would have said:

    "Putting gays in the line of fire in some god-forsaken sand bog is exactly where republicans want them."

    Bada bing bada boom.

    As for this thread's sense of enthusiasm decay:

    It is good to get the execration of your system…

    I got it out of my system with this throat slitter over on Talton's blog:

    (Although, I think Soleri out did me on that thread.)

    http://roguecolumnist.typepad.com/rogue_columnist

    But I still have a little left…

    So here goes:

    Anybody wonder what Mr. Obama's 2012 campaign rhetoric will sound like?

    Will he use his oft used line about "kicking the can down the road"?

    If so, will we be able to contain our snickers and smirks?

  6. Mark, what if the Republicans (in the senate) pretty much go home, leaving a few behind to play roadblock?

  7. And I thought my blog was funny! It doesn't hold a candle to this!

    If you guys want to keep people around til Christmas talking about DADT, fine, at least that will inject a little life into the D.C. economy. But I can't think of a more useless conversation. And the DREAM Act, in a lame duck session? Surely, you must be dreaming.

    On the other hand, I guess when we finally end DADT, we are likely to present a more fierce fighting force. What a clash of cultures, the Taliban vs The Gay Community! The left will probably complain that the war is not co-ed!

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