Much Worse Than I Expected

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HRCDINNERAlexWong:Getty

All I can say is: the president gave a speech he could have given at any point in the last three years. No one in that room could disagree with any of the things he said. I sure don't (with the exception of the hate crimes hooey). And he said it well and movingly. Like we didn't know he could do that.

But the point of electing a president who pledged to actually do things is to hold him to account, and to see if he is willing to take any risk of any kind to actually do something. I had a few prior tests of his seriousness or signs that he gets it, a few ways to judge if this speech had anything new or specific or clear. He failed every test.

To wit:

He says he will end Don't Ask Don't Tell but he has done nothing, and he offered no time-line, no deadline HRC for action and no verifiable record that he has done anything, despite his claims that he has.

He says he is ending the HIV ban, but it is still in force, a year and a half after it was signed by George W. Bush and passed by massive majorities in both houses.

He says he favors equality for gay couples but said nothing tonight to support the initiatives in Maine or in Washngton State or the struggle in Washington DC for marriage equality. That's a test of real sincerity on this matter. He failed it.

He says he wants to end discrimination in employment even as he is firing more gay people solely for being gay than any other employer in the country - as commander-in-chief. And if an employer is firing gay people all the time, is it tolerable to accept as a response that he will stop doing it one day - but gives no time-line at all to hold him to?

Look: I didn't expect these issues to be front and center given his appalling inheritance; I know he has many other things on his plate; I didn't expect the moon; I didn't believe he would do any of this immediately; I understand that the real job is for us to do, not him, and that most of the action is in the states. And I remain a strong supporter of him in foreign policy and in the way he is clearly trying to move this country past the ideological divides of the recent past.

But the sad truth is: he is refusing to take any responsibility for his clear refusal to fulfill clear campaign pledges on the core matter of civil rights and has given no substantive, verifiable pledges or deadlines by which he can be held accountable. What that means, I'm afraid, is that this speech was highfalutin bullshit. There were no meaningful commitments within a time certain, not even a commitment to fulfilling them in his first term; just meaningless, feel-good commitments that we have no way of holding him to. Once the dust settles, ask yourself. What did he promise to achieve in the next year? Or two years? Or four years? The answer is: nothing.

HRC, of course, is putting no pressure on him; Joe Solmonese's disgraceful email actually took all pressure off him by saying he'd be happy to wait till 2017 for HRC to hold Obama accountable. HRC are putting pressure, as they always have, on gay people to go to the back of the line and be grateful a president attends their fundraising event. The only word for this is a racket. And if gay people do not rise up and demand change from this organization and stop funding a group whose goal has always been to sell the Democrats to gay people rather than secure civil rights, then they will continue to suffer the discrimination they live under day after day.

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