After the midterm elections, it looked highly unlikely that congressional Democrats would be able to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell during the lame-duck session. But over the last few weeks, prospects for repeal have improved, and despite hand-wringing Wednesday morning that Sen. Susan Collins would sink the legislation's chances with her "unreasonable" procedural demands, by Wednesday night it looked like the lifting of the ban on gays in the military could actually happen. Collins has made her demands public, and "they are not outrageous," Talking Points Memo's David Kurtz reports. She wants 15 amendments (10 of them for Republicans) and about four days of debate.
Majority Leader Harry Reid can meet her terms "without too much sweat," Kurtz notes. "This much is clear: the day started with DADT repeal looking completely dead and ends with a very plausible way forward to 60 votes in the Senate in this lame duck session. Not a done deal yet, but prospects for repeal are a whole lot better than they were 12 hours ago." Reactions to the potentially historic vote, particularly among those leaning left, reflect that sense of momentum.
- And Now Lisa Murkowski Is on Board, The Washington Post's Greg Sargent reports. Like Collins, Murkowski wants the a "free and open" amendment process. "But this is nonetheless a step foward. Murkowski had previously been hedging on whether she supports repeal; now she does. What's more, Murkowski is saying nothing about the failure to resolve the tax deal leading her to vote No," Sargent writes.
- DADT Vote Affected by Tax Deal, The New York Times' Nate Silver argues. The longer both parties' leaders some time to round up the votes for the tax deal, the less time there is for DADT--and if the tax deal falls apart, Republicans will be in no mood to compromise. On the other hand, the angry response from liberals to the tax cut extension could be an incentive to score a major progressive win. "[W]hen liberals are scoring Mr. Obama during 2012, his having achieved the goal of repealing DADT would help to reassure liberals that there had indeed been progress made."
- Ridiculous Lefty Bellyaching "It would be pretty amazingly comical if, while lefties are howling at the moon about Bush tax cuts betrayal and what a sellout Barack Obama is, he and the Senate deliver DADT repeal," Michael Tomasky writes at The Guardian. " Presumably, they and the liberal Democrats in Congress will start feeling a little better. And Republicans will start feeling a little worse," Tomasky continues.
I find it impressive and, frankly, surprising that there are apparently no Democratic defections on DADT. Not Ben Nelson. Not Joe Manchin, the newest senator, from a state not widely known for its gay community (West Virginia). ... if, by the weekend, Obama is the guy who passed healthcare reform and 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal in one session of Congress, during a two-year period that saw the rise of arguably this country's largest-ever grassroots rightwing movement, liberals who complain really ought to think twice.
- Pass It or Risk Humiliation "I've been a broken record on this issue because we have never been this close to ending this shameful discriminatory policy through the legislative process," The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart writes. "There is time to get this and other things done--if there is the political will to do it. And if there isn't the courts have made it clear they may well do something on their own. For the courts to do what Reid and the Senate won't ought to be considered a humiliation."
- Sam Nunn Says Society Has Changed, the Associated Press' Anne Flaherty reports. Nunn was the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1993, and staunchly opposed ending the gay ban. But now, he says, "Society has changed, and the military has changed." He thinks the military needs about a year to prepare the troops for the new policy.