In a word, no.
There's some chatter in our comments on another post (the author of which I believe disagrees with me on this post!) about whether Obama does indeed have the right to end DADT by executive fiat. Even if he does have that ability, he should not do it.
As many parents and teachers learn after much heartache, compliance with a rule is much more easily won if the child can see the reason for the rule, feel the justness of it. Otherwise, you only get compliance only when supervised. Worse, simmering resentment builds, and the children will eventually lash out, in some way or another.
This is true for citizens of a polity as well, and probably has much to do with why democracies tend to be so much more stable than other forms of government. The government must respond to the will of the people in order to remain in power. When people feel as if something is forced on them, they will resent it. And a backlash will come.
I think when Obama says he is not an ideologue, he means that he is a political consequentialist (if not a moral consequentialist). He will always value a calculus of harms and benefits over rights - which demand a disregarding of harms and benefits. This is obviously a questionable position. I'm generally in favor such a stance politically, but it is of course, an arguable stance. In this case, however, I think it's warranted.
There are of course times when rights must come first, when they must be imposed on an unwilling majority. Brown v. Board of Education, for example. In that case, however, popular opinion was not nearly so close to being turned around, and a far greater number of people were having their rights more severely violated.
In this case, I think the consequentialist route is the right way to go. Yes, I do think the rights of servicemembers are currently being violated. If, however, we wait for a relatively short time, we can achieve a much more stable victory. If the military or public feels as if this decision is imposed on them by a cultural elite, they have a far greater chance of overturning the decision in the next presidential election. Servicemembers will chafe at the bit. If the decision seems as if it is coming from the military, however, it has a much, much greater chance of sticking around for good.
Relatively few people will be harmed in the short term, and greater benefits will accrue in the long term.
John McCain's statements ring much more hollow, to the military and the public, because he is contradicting Adm. Mullen rather than they would if he were contradicting President Obama.
If the military can't get it together, then yes: Obama should declare it by fiat. In the meantime, let's see if we can't get popular opinion even more behind the change.
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