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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harry Reid Sacrificed DADT Repeal For Political Agenda

Harry Reid can whine all he wants about Republican obstructionism but the facts belie his complaints. Moderate Republicans were prepared to vote to repeal DADT until Harry Reid started playing games.

Reid's refusal to allow other amendments to be added in to be debated and Reid's sabotaging the Defense bill and DADT repeal by adding in immigration policy (DREAM Act) to the Defense bill, all set the stage for the entire thing to fail, and fail it did.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) made her position very clear and was unapologetic about confirming her support for DADT repeal:

"It should be repealed. My view is our armed services should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is capable of serving our country…..We should be expressing our gratitude to those individuals not trying to exclude them from service or expel them from the force."

"I was the sole Republican in the committee that voted [to repeal DADT]. I think it's the right thing to do. I think it's only fair."

She went on to publicly state that Reid's refusal to allow unlimited amendments, as is usual with the Defense bill, was unfair, stating "I cannot vote to proceed to this bill under a situation that is going to shut down the debate and preclude Republican amendments. That too is not fair. "

Reid's political maneuvering cost her vote.

Adding the DREAM Act into the Defense bill is another whole ballgame, by doing so, Reid thought he could motivate the Hispanics in Nevada to go to the voting booths in November and prevent him from losing his Senate seat to Sharron Angle.

The last two polls conducted, one by CNN/TIME and one by FOX/Rasmussen both having Angle a point ahead of Reid in the polls 42 to 41 percent and 46 to 45 percent respectively.

Reid's using his position as Senate majority leader in such a self serving calculated way, making it all about him and his reelection chances instead of about getting the Defense bill and DADT repeal passed, has been duly noted by the appropriate groups as well.

The Politico with "Harry Reid’s botched battles."

The disappointment was widespread.

Gay rights groups were upset that the process Reid employed may have undermined progress in repealing the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military.

Hispanic groups were disappointed that they couldn’t even get a vote on a narrow piece of comprehensive immigration reform — an amendment known as the DREAM Act that would have enabled citizenship for illegal immigrant students in exchange for government or military service.

And Democrats on both sides of the Capitol are unhappy that a debate on gay rights and immigration distracted yet again from issue No. 1: jobs.

More Democratic allies saw through Reid's political ruse as well:

Jarrod Chlapowski, field director for Servicemembers United, a group that backs the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” called it a “cynical move” for Reid to push forward with the bill in such a manner, saying it was “pretty much a recipe for failure.”

“It will be part of our education plan that Democratic leaders are just as accountable as the Republicans that are obstructing this right now,” he said.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)made a point, which I will show below, but Reid's response to it was very interesting to say the least.


The $726 billion bill, which outlines defense policies, requires a minimum of four to five weeks of debate, McConnell said, and should not include controversial provisions like the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal or an immigration measure known as the DREAM Act that would legalize immigrants who attend college or join the military after coming to the U.S. illegally as children.

“They want to use this week for a political exercise. They want to weigh this bill down with controversy in a transparent attempt to show their special interest groups that they haven’t forgotten about them ahead of the election,” McConnell said.

“This is not a serious exercise. It’s a show,” he added. “And it’s because of shows like this that our [Democratic] friends have lost credibility with the public.”

Added McCain: “One can only draw the conclusion that this is all about elections and not about the welfare morale and battle effectiveness of our men and women who are laying it on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan today.”


Reid clarified that the bill would not technically repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The relevant provision would overturn the ban on gays openly serving in the military if the president, the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs chairman certify that an internal study concluded that repeal would not adversely impact troop readiness or morale.

"Some are saying this bill that came out of the committee repeals ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’" Reid said. "It is not repealed in the bill."

If the final decision rests with Obama and the secretary of defense and the Joint Chiefs chairman certifying the internal study being conducted, then why would Reid have brought it out now instead of waiting?

For no other reason that Reid's desperate ploy to give Democrats some sort of energy before the November midterm elections.

Calculated. Selfish. Politically motivated. Incompetent.

What Reid did is show he was willing to sacrifice DADT repeal in order to try to use obstructionism as an argument against voters handing the House and/or Senate to the Republicans.

An argument they have consistently pushed and which hasn't helped them at all since more and more states look like they are turning red ahead of midterms.