SOTU: I Can't Tell You Where "Don't Ask" Stands

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Given that the White House press secretary confirmed reports that President Obama might mention the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" gays-in-the-military policy tomorrow night, how angry would gay rights activists become if Obama, for whatever reason, failed to bring it up? Gibbs either boxed his boss into a corner, or he's previewing an element of the speech. The D.A.D.T. specint (speculation intelligence) is based largely on the comments of Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who told reporters that he would temporarily refrain from scheduling hearings on ending the ban because he expected Obama to urge Congress to do so in the State of the Union Address.

What Gibbs said today is true: language about Don't Ask, Don't Tell has been drafted. Whether it stays in the speech -- we don't know. But now, expectations have been set. Based on what Obama has said before, he would probably divide his DADT statement into two parts. One, he'd urge Congress to repeal the ban, citing fairness, dignity and national security needs. Two, he'd say he's instructing the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, to create a task force to figure out how to integrate gays and lesbians in the military efficiently, quickly and safely. (Safely -- meaning -- making sure that gays are protected from those soldiers who might be uncomfortable with them, and making sure that the soldiers who have a problem with the policy are given the resources to channel their frustrations and concerns appropriately.)

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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