Sunday Snapshot: Gays: So What, Who Cares?

By Marc Ambinder

As the political world tries to make sense of the cartography of the Republican Party -- where does Ron Paul fit in? Is CPAC too libertarian? Does Mitt Romney speak the language of the conservative base? How does CPAC relate to the Tea Party movement? How do Ron Paul and Sarah Palin relate to the Tea partiers? How does the Republican primary base intersect with -- or does it -- with the Tea Party movement -- and what does this augur for 2010 --? And why did I have such a bizarre dream about the Olympics? -- here are today's moments to NOT have missed from the Sunday shows:

1. On Meet the Press, General David Petreaus said that he did not think the rank and file cared about whether Don't Ask, Don't Tell ought to be repealed, which is tantamount to him saying, yes, Mr. President, I'm with you. (From WonkRoom):

GREGORY: Do you think soldiers on the ground in the field care one way or the other if their comrade in arms are gay or lesbian?

PETRAEUS: I'm not sure that they do. ... You heard Gen. Powell who was the chairman when the policy was implemented, had a big hand in that, who said that yes, indeed, the earth has revolved around the sun a number of times since that period 15 months ago. You have heard a variety of anecdotal input. We have experienced certainly in the CIA and the FBI -- I know, I served, in fact, in combat with individuals who were gay and who were lesbian in combat situations. Frankly, you know, over time you said, hey, how's this guy shooting or how is her analysis or what have you?


2.  Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), proposed a filibuster reform compromise in a New York Times op-ed: "For this reason, filibusters should require 35 senators to sign a public petition and make a commitment to continually debate an issue in reality, not just in theory. Those who obstruct the Senate should pay a price in public notoriety and physical exhaustion. That would lead to a significant decline in frivolous filibusters."    On CNN's State of the Nation with Candy Crowley, Bayh blamed the constant fundraising pressures for contributing to the state of gridlock:

Last thing I'd mention. ... In my father's day, there was a saying in the Senate, you're legislating for four years; you campaign for two. We now have perpetual campaigns. They never stop. My first day in the Senate, and the first discussion was let's talk about the next election. That was two years away. Part of that is driven by the constant need to raise funds. If you're just out there fund-raising all the time, then things political are on your mind. And that does not help.

3. On Face The Nation, Gen. Colin Powell offered a way of thinking about President Obama's first year:

"There's an old military expression -- no great strategist and no great battle plan survives first contact with an enemy. And no great political campaign survives first contact with trying to govern in Washington D.C. So he has run into difficulty... And as I go around the country and talk to people, they know that health care has to be fixed. They know we need more in education. They know we need to do more with energy. But they don't see that as their main priorities. And as the president went into these areas, all of which are important. It's a disgrace that we have millions of people who are uninsured. But at the same time, in the eyes of the American people, in my judgment, it looked as if that somehow had become more important than the main attack, which was fix the economy and get the Americans working again."

4. Does Gov. Tim Pawlenty speak truth to power here or evade David Gregory's question? You decide:

MR. GREGORY:  So what would you cut in the federal government today to bring the deficit under control?

GOV. PAWLENTY:  Well, I'd cut a lot of things.  But, you know, the fact of the matter is we're going to have to come to grips and tell the truth with government spending, particularly as it relates to entitlement programs.  But nondefense spending is going to have to be reduced.  David, in Minnesota...

MR. GREGORY:  Wait a minute.  But the biggest drivers are the entitlement spending on the deficit.

GOV. PAWLENTY:  That's right.

MR. GREGORY:  So would you be prepared to cut entitlement benefits, cut Medicare, raise the, the, the age for Social Security or cut benefits for Social Security?

GOV. PAWLENTY:  Here's the math.  The federal government takes in $2.2 trillion a year revenues, all sources for all purposes.  Their total unfunded liabilities, including entitlements, including pensions, including the whole bill, is $65 trillion.  There is no way you can make that math work.  So the truth of the matter is, is we are going to have to reform entitlement programs.  I've done this in Minnesota, for example, with our bus drivers in the Twin Cities.  They had post-retiree health insurance benefits, and the premise was this, if we made a promise to you, we'll keep it.  We're not going to cut people off in terms of their pensions if we've made a promise to you. But for people who are new to the system, who are coming on, where we can fairly give them notice and fairly change expectations, the system's going to change.  And we did it.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/02/sunday-snapshot-gays-so-what-who-cares/36312/