Liberals Fume at Obama for Defense of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Outcry meets White House push to reinstate the policy

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The Obama administration's successful push to reinstate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which was knocked down by a district judge and then stayed by an appeals court at the Justice Department's request, has liberals fuming at the president. After all, Obama has frequently said that he wanted to abolish the Clinton-era policy and would pursue its repeal. So now, 21 months into his presidency, Obama has not only failed to secure its demise, but has taken the extraordinary step of formally defending it. We covered why he did it here. Now here's the backlash.

  • 'Politics Over Principle'  The American Prospect's Gabriel Arana warns, "All Obama had to do was sit back and let the court ruling stand. Instead, the Justice Department filed an emergency appeal with the Ninth Circuit. It was granted, and now DADT is back in effect. For all intents and purposes, it is now Obama's baby. ... It was a choice of politics over principle, and he chose politics. Showing so much deference to the military establishment was a mistake in the first place -- discrimination is discrimination, and it shouldn't matter if members of the armed forces don't want gays in the military."
  • Obama Could Have Killed This  The Center for American Progress' Igor Volsky explains, "LGBT advocates have argued that Obama could also use his stop-loss authority to prevent the military from discharging individuals based on their sexual orientation and have claimed that the White House does not have to appeal the ruling if he believes that it is unconstitutional. This morning, Ted Olson — former Solicitor General under President George W. Bush — agreed with this emerging consensus, saying 'It would be appropriate for them to say ‘the law has been deemed unconstitutional, we are not going to seek further review of that.'"
  • Here's Another Reason Obama Didn't Have to Defend DADT  Newsweek's Ben Adler explains, "Given that top military leaders have said that DADT is harmful to the military, Obama could have simply announced that, absent the state interest to justify DADT, it is now unconstitutional and will no longer be enforced." Adler quotes an expert who explains, "The constitutionality of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has changed since Congress enacted it."
  • White House Is Just Wrong  Joe Sudbay reacts to a TV interview with White House adviser Valerie Jarrett, who defends the move. "She stuck to the same Obama administration's talking points -- the incorrect ones -- she used earlier today. It's stunning. Does the Obama administration understand how badly they've handled this issue? ... One last thing: You won't hear a clear commitment from Jarrett that Obama will push for DADT legislation in the lame duck session. She's asked, and she bobs around. I'm stunned."
  • Favoring Process Over Constituents  Taylor Marsh writes, "Barack Obama is one cold brother. Once again he flips off yet another constituency for the sake of process. Besides being wrong, Pres. Obama has taken a position above the plight of people, this time it’s soldiers who are willing to fight and die for this country. He’s gone out of his way to continue their second class citizen status."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.