Yes, He Can. Maybe. When He Gets Around To It: An Ongoing Series


Some of his supporters may not be disappointed at all. He did warn that he might not be able to achieve all his goals in one term. (And for most of his goals, that's a very good thing.) Still, this from today's Washington Times. Obama

will not move for months, and perhaps not until 2010, to ask Congress to end the military's decades-old ban on open homosexuals in the ranks, two people who have advised the Obama transition team on this issue say.

Repealing the ban was an Obama campaign promise. However, Mr. Obama first wants to confer with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and his new political appointees at the Pentagon to reach a consensus and then present legislation to Congress, the advisers said.

"I think 2009 is about foundation building and reaching consensus," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. The group supports military personnel targeted under the ban.

Mr. Sarvis told The Washington Times that he has held "informal discussions" with the Obama transition team on how the new president should proceed on the potentially explosive issue.

Lawrence Korb, an analyst at the Center for American Progress and an adviser to the Obama campaign, said the new administration should set up a Pentagon committee to make recommendations to Congress on a host of manpower issues, including the gay ban.

Apparently Obama remembers how Clinton got sandbagged on this one. But a lot has changed since then. It has been an extraordinary decade of progress in public acceptance of gays, with gay marriage, for example, going from a Falwellian horror fantasy to gin up donations for halting American moral decay to something courts are willing to grant as a right, and the voting public can get close to supporting when asked. And as the article mentions, "Today, gay activists cite national polls that show public sentiment, unlike in 1993, support removing the ban." See one such poll here, from early 2007, with 55 percent support for open gay service in the military.

I imagine if Obama makes this change cleanly at any time in his term, he'll be fondly remembered. Still, his apparent unwillingness to be bold on something he considers a matter of both justice and wise policy--and that he has clear political support on--should be disconcerting to his fans.

Mike Riggs on the disaster of "don't ask, don't tell" back in July.

[Hat tip: John Kluge]