Clinton on Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Blame Colin Powell

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Buck-passing former President Bill Clinton blames his former Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell for "misrepresenting" the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy:

Former President Bill Clinton said that Colin Powell, who served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during his administration, misrepresented how Don't Ask, Don't Tell would work as the legislation was being passed into law in 1993.

In an interview Tuesday, Clinton told CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric that he didn't choose the Don't Ask, Don't policy, which bans gays from serving openly in the military. "I accepted it because it was better than an absolute ban," Clinton said. "I was promised it would be better than it was."

"Don't ask, don't tell was only adopted when both Houses of Congress had voted by a huge veto-proof margin to legislate the absolute ban on gays in the military if I didn't do something else," Clinton said. "So there's been a lot of rewriting history saying Bill Clinton just gave into that. That's just factually false. I didn't do anything until the votes were counted. Now, when Colin Powell sold me on don't pass, don't tell, here's what he said it would be. Gay service members would never get in trouble for going to gay bars, marching in gay rights parades as long as they weren't in uniform That was what they were promised. That's a very different don't ask, don't tell than we got."

Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens says Republicans should take the lead in repealing DADT, pointing out that the policy is not only immoral but incredibly expensive:

The values argument isn't the half of it. Since DADT came into force in 1993, some 14,000 service members have been discharged under the policy—the equivalent of an entire division of warfighters. Investigating and processing each case has its costs; so does recruiting and training each replacement. How much? A 2006 commission organized by UCLA's Palm Center and led by former Defense Secretary William Perry put the total cost of each discharge at $42,835, meaning the policy has now cost the U.S. taxpayer around $600 million…. 

Republican senators are now bellyaching that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid intends to jam the repeal amendment into a bill they have no real choice but to vote for. They should be silently thanking him. He's giving them the chance to do the right thing while blaming the Democrats for it. It's a GOP twofer, plus a vote they'll someday be proud of.

NEXT: A Wasted Decade?

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  1. As Commander in Chief, can’t President Obama simply issue an executive order to stop DADT? Or would that require growing a set?

    1. Despite the popular term DADT policy, DADT is actually a law, and a detailed one at that. See 10 USC 654. And before you starting touting the Commander in Chief power, Congress has the power “To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.”

  2. While I think they should get rid of DADT, is there a political issue right now that the American public could possibly care less about then DADT?

    1. Rachel Maddow said last night on her show where she talks to herself for an hour that it’s a top priority, and I believe her.

    2. There are plenty of issues I care less about.

      If you consider it so unimportant, shouldn’t you criticize Republicans for making it a top priority and filibustering the bill, which will keep the issue up for debate for years to come?

      1. DADT was not the only thing in the bill. Republicans wanted the right to add amendments to it. The Dems refused. The Republicans blocked it.

      2. shouldn’t you criticize Republicans for making it a top priority and filibustering the bill

        Republicans made it a top priority? The democrats couldn’t even get a clean vote on this. Reid wanted the DREAM act and DADT in the same bill because he couldn’t get democrats to swallow each one individually.

        To say that this is a “republican priority” is ridiculous.

        1. If the public couldn’t care less about it, then why did the Republicans make such a stink about blocking it?

          1. They didn’t vote to pass it, and this qualifies as a “stink”?

          2. Because they want to deny the dems any victory in an election year.

    3. Shh, the party line around here is that only conservatives think that social issues are the most important ones facing the country.

  3. DADT is the law under Congress’s constitutional autority to prescribe the rules ‘for land and naval forces’; the President cannot overturn it by EO. The most he can do is to order the DoD to slow roll discharges, but for the cases where a person just comes out and says it, their Commanding Officer has no choice but to start admin proceedings.

    1. When did separation of powers ever stop a determined president or administration from doing an end-around?

      1. Becuase he’s the kind of guy that would fuck a person in the ass and not even have the goddamn common courtesy to give him an end-around.

    2. I’m sorry, but couldn’t the scotus take this up as being unconstitutional under the 14th? Wouldn’t that negate everything?

      1. SCOTUS can’t just “take it up” on their own – they must be presented with an actual case or controversy, as is required for the court to have jurisdiction under Article III.

        1. In addition, sexual orientation has yet to be found to be a federally protected class.

        2. Yes, but I meant can’t someone simply sue their way up. There’s no way that a former armed forces member/homosexual couldn’t get plenty of funding to back this all the way to the scotus.

          Also, didn’t the Matthew Shepard act set precedent for sexual orientation as a federally protected class?

          1. I’m not familiar with the details of that act, but I’m presuming it would add aggravating factors for sentencing or define as a crime certain assaults if committed with sexual orientation as a motivating factors.

            That is not the same as finding that sexual orientation is protected under the 14th Amendment.

            Sure, someone could try to sue the military on the basis they were wrongly discharged due to sexual orientation – but I don’t know what would form the basis for their claim. As I understand it, the law right now is that if you’re gay, you can’t serve in the military, unless nobody knows you’re gay. Since being gay is not yet constitutionally protected, if they find out you’re gay and discharge you, what claim can you make?

            1. Meaning that if you do file a case, you likely wouldn’t make it past summary judgment in the district court.

      2. There is IIRC an active lawsuit that at the federal district level that was won a few weeks ago by a discharged servicemember. But it’ll take a few years before it winds it’s way up to the Supreme Court (if it gets that far)

        1. The opinion in that case was bizarre. While it mentioned that the case had been brought as a Due Process and Freedom of Expression case, it discussed only Freedom of Expression.

          After ruling that the “Don’t Tell” part of the law was a violation of the First Amendment, the court threw out the entire law, even though the “Don’t Ask” and mandatory discharge parts of the law raise no First Amendment issues.

  4. I’ve never understood why gays would want to serve the state. It’s not as if the state ever did anything positive for them.

    1. They aren’t “serving the state.” They are serving their fellow Americans, which include their friends and families and the principles they value.

      1. ^^THIS^^

      2. I don’t think you understand how the military works.

  5. It’s also funny how presidents can never ever ever take responsibility for anything that happens during their administration.

  6. Clinton’s position is a little odd. Clinton is a former law professor, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, is a .

    Is Clinton saying that he couldn’t read the law for himself, or that he thought Powell was promising not to enforce it?

    1. Maybe Powell didn’t give him a clear definition of “is”.

    2. Other possibilities are Clinton is not as smart as is claimed or diddling an intern was higher priority than understanding what Powell was suggesting.

  7. Powell must have some supernatural power ovwer the wind. As I remember it, Clinton made every decision by sticking his finger in the air to see which way the wind was blowing. The consummate politician.

    1. Clinton made every decision by sticking his finger in the air

      He had other decision making methods.

    2. I don’t think it was his finger.

      1. I also don’t think it was the air.

        1. Blowing was involved, however.

          1. Giggity.

  8. Democrats have pushed for a just, egalitarian, libertarian policy. Republicans have defended an unjust, anti-libertarian policy whereby the state decides some citizens have fewer rights if they perform certain private sex acts.

    So why exactly do so many libertarians take this as an opportunity to bash Democrats?

    1. So are you actually stupid, or are you deliberately overlooking the issue here?

      The repeal of DADT by itself may or may not have passed, and may or may not have gained some republican support. However we do not know, because the Democrats decided to play political games with the rights of homosexuals, instead of pushing for an honest vote to end DADT.

      The issue of gays in the military, and amnesty programs for illegals are entirely separate and it was a dirty trick to attach the DREAM act onto this bill with the intent of scoring political points.

      I hope that most people are intelligent enough to make that connection, but your post may be evidence suggesting otherwise.

      1. And in case you still don’t see the point, the dems are leading the gays around with a carrot on a stick, always keeping the REAL changes just out of reach, but close enough the gays keep voting for them. This is what is enticing the vitriol.

        If they wanted to repeal DADT, it could have been done months ago.

        1. Hell, it could have been done here. There are still 58(?) Democrats in the Senate. They couldn’t get any of the New England Senators to cross over on this and get it through cloture?

          Bullshit, Reid knew he wouldn’t be able to get 49 of his fellow Democrats to vote for DREAM AND DADT at the same time.

          He would rather try and save his own skin than do something which would actually advance civil rights.

      2. “”and it was a dirty trick to attach the DREAM act onto this bill with the intent of scoring political points.””

        Dirty tricky? It’s common practice.

        1. Which makes it no less of a dirty trick.

          1. Wouldn’t a dirty trick, be a trick outside the norm?

            Aside from that, if the rules allow them to do such, it’s not a dirty trick. It’s allowed.

            Of course I would love to see the day that a spending bill was just spending, a defense bill just defense, ect. Those days are long gone if they ever existed, and probably will never return.

            1. Perhaps I should have called it an unsavory practice, or a dishonorable move, but I still prefer dirty trick. It is legal, it is common, that doesn’t make it any less despicable.

  9. Typical of Bill. He executes a retarded black man for votes, and now dumps on another black man for DADT.

  10. Perhaps because it was a Democrat who gave us this “unjust, anti-libertarian policy whereby the state decides some citizens have fewer rights if they perform certain private sex acts?”

    Just saying….

    1. It’s worth remembering that before DADT the policy was “find them through any intrusive means you want and discharge them”.

      DADT may be unjust but it was and improvement.

      1. The lesser of two evils is still evil.

  11. If the powers-that-be decide that gays should not be allowed in the military, does that mean that gays wouldn’t be drafted if the draft is reinstated?

    1. That’s the way the old draft worked. Or prior to that, think Corp. Klinger

      1. yes.

        So if you’re gay, I think you should be lobbying hard to Keep DADT

      2. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them.

        1. Father-raper!

    2. One of the reasons that some of the European countries ended up letting gays in the military was that they had conscription. With the new permissive attitudes to gays from the seventies on it was too easy for someone to get out of being drafted if they could just claim they were gay.

      Back when we had the draft guys would go to some lengths feign insanity or illness but nobody would have faced the shame of being publicly known as a homosexual.

      Another thing that demonstrates peoples short historical memories. Everyone seems to have forgotten how much everyone really hated homosexuals until about 1980 or so.

  12. I’ve posted this before, but it is worth reapeating:

    I coached women’s gymnastics at Camp Woodward in PA back in the 70’s and early 80’s. I lived in a building called the coop. It was a big room with about 20-30 beds. Totally barracks style. Some of the men who shared that space — along with teen age boys I might add — were dancers from NY who were gay. Nice guys and no one seemed to mind. They also used the showers along with boys as young as nine. It really was a non-issue.

    1. But if gay’s were allowed, what would we call people to make fun of them?

        1. Congressives.

  13. Here is my theory…

    If the Dems actually get around to pushing the social values that they harp on, they’ll end up losing their base.

    For Example – if the gays get their agenda passed, and are treated 100% equally in every aspect of life, they no longer need to vote for Dems to push their social agenda, and would base their political affiliation on economics. The dems would lose this voting block.

    Apply this to all social issues, you’ll see the same pattern.

    1. “For Example – if the gays get their agenda passed, and are treated 100% equally in every aspect of life, they no longer need to vote for Dems to push their social agenda,…”

      Beyond gay marriage and being able to serve openly in the military, what exactly is the rest of their “social agenda”?

      What awful thing is supposed to come after that?

      1. Hehe you said “come”.

      2. For Example – if the gays get their agenda passed, and are treated 100% equally in every aspect of life, they no longer need to vote for Dems to push their social agenda, and would base their political affiliation on economics.

        If that’s the case, then why do ~90% of blacks vote Democratic?

        1. That was to Leroy…

        2. If that’s the case, then why do ~90% of blacks vote Democratic?

          Because that 90% wants to partially enslave everyone else using Congress, in one of the more ironic and counterintuitive developments imaginable.

          You’d think descendents of slaves would be die-hard libertarians, but that’s not the case.

        3. Well I’m not sure how this is related to my original point, but I believe the majority of blacks vote Democratic for a few reasons, such as class warfare, affirmitive action, massive entitlements, and a media that portrays people who are against those entitlements as racist.

      3. Gay Agenda:

        * Item One: Gay Marriage

        * Item Two: Serve Openly in Military

        * Item Three: No More Hot Chicks on TV?

        Where’s it supposed to go from Item 2 that’s supposed to make me scared?

        1. That is essentially my point… once DADT is repealed, and gays have the same freedom to marry as straights, there is no more ‘gay agenda’.

          Once that ends, the liberals will lose voters who are there strictly because of social issues.

          1. Ugh…

            – liberals
            + democrats

            This is what i get for rushing.

          2. once DADT is repealed, and gays have the same freedom to marry as straights, there is no more ‘gay agenda’.

            How long will you be staying with us in the city, Country Mouse?

            Those who see no difference between prohibitions on interracial marriage and same-sex marriages will also see no reason not to extend all other race-related laws and programs to homosexuals.

            So get ready for fights over whether it’s legal not to employ someone because he takes it in the ass. Get ready for fights over whether you can refuse to sell your house to a married gay couple. Get ready for fights over whether the government should have a preference in contracting/procurement for queer-owned businesses.

  14. To what extent should Congress follow the advice and recommendations of those actually in charge of the military. I.e., what is the position of the top brass on this issue? Have the generals weighed in with an assessment of how repealing DADT might affect the morale or readiness of the troops?

    Or do we not believe the generals? And in either case, should Congress just decide for itself and just ignore whatever the top brass says? And if they do that with this issue, what other issues might they do that with?

    I guess what I’m getting at is who is it that really runs the military, and who do we want running the military?

    I dunno. Gotta admit this is not an issue I have followed terribly closely.

    1. I.e., what is the position of the top brass on this issue?

      The brass in office is neutral to opposed to repeal, as near as I can tell.

      Of course, you can always find a retired general to support any position.

      1. Speaking from my little level where I am, no one cares. At this point we all know it is inevitable. All Soldiers are worried about how in regards to gays openly serving in the military is how many hours of “Homosexual Awareness Sensitivity Training” we’re going to need to go through.

      2. The top brass has to more or less keep silent on this issue until they retire, unless ordered to testify before Congress. But, if ordered to integrate openly gay people into the military, they’ll make it happen. Just one more mission to carry out.

    2. IIRC the military is supposed to submit a report on how DADT is working now, and on what might happen if it’s repealed, in December or thereabouts. I think some of the DADT supporters used that as a rationale for not voting on it now.

  15. They aren’t “serving the state.” They are serving their fellow Americans, which include their friends and families and the principles they value.

    Leaving aside the question of whether the military interventions of late actually constitute to fellow Americans and their values and principles, a friend who used to be in the Army has the following story from boot camp: A guy in his squad failed to wear his hate. He got a sunburn. Instead of writing him up for being out of uniform, they wrote him up for damaging government property (his skin). The message to the recruits was quite clear.

    1. A guy in his squad failed to wear his hate.

      A Marine, I assume?

      1. Doh! Spelling fail! I meant hat.

        1. That wouldn’t be a Marine then. Marines wear covers.

        2. I’ve heard similar stories, and threats. But they can Article 15 you for anything.

  16. DADT is probably at the top of the list of stupid fucking, impractical policies 30 years behind the zeitgeist.

    Economically, the case to be made for the high cost to taxpayers when our overlords intervene in culture, society, and the economy is infinite.

    Jim Crow was a good’n. Free health care is gonna be fantastic.

    1. “free” health “care” is gonna suck if run by the government.

      TANSTAAFL.

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