According to news reports, the Justice Department is preparing to ask a federal judge to stay her ruling ending enforcement of the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy banning gays in the military. But my sources insist that, as of last night, the White House, meaning President Obama, had not signed off on that course of action even though the Justice Department sent the White House a legal brief in near-record time.
Perhaps the decision has been made by now, but the last time I checked, senior officials were still debating both what to do and how to do it, cognizant that an appeal of the ruling could turn the party's activist base from petulant to pissed off in a matter of seconds.
There are no neat delineations in the universe of who is arguing for what, but there are several schools of thought about what Obama should do.
One group of advisers thinks that he needs to appeal the ruling because he can't get rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" without the Pentagon, and the Pentagon is liable to gum up the works if it thinks the administration wants to dispense with the previously agreed upon timetable, which includes the completion of a major Department of Defense study about integration. A corollary argument here is that the National Security Staff is acutely aware of how difficult the military and Pentagon civilians can make life for the president in many unrelated endeavors. This group believes that if Democrats are successful in the Illinois, Delaware, and West Virginia Senate races -- not an impossible scenario by any means -- that Senate could very well schedule a clean and clear vote in a rump session.