On patience

As Official Bleakonomy Gadfly John likes to point out at regular intervals in our comments, Obama has not exactly lit the world on fire with his commitment to gay rights issues. In particular, he hasn't made any real progress (or seemed particularly moved to do so) on either Don't Ask, Don't Tell or the Defense of Marriage Act. This lack of progress is beginning to draw the ire of the gay rights supporters who campaigned vigorously on Obama's behalf. From Politico:
President Barack Obama’s promises of change are falling short for one core Democratic constituency: gays and lesbians, whose leaders say Obama’s administration isn’t keeping up with the times.

Gay rights campaigners, most of them Democrats who supported Obama in November, have begun to voice their public frustration with Obama’s inaction, small jokes at their community’s expense and deafening silence on what they see as the signal civil rights issue of this era.

His most important campaign promises repealing the Defense of Marriage Act and the military ban on openly gay and lesbian service-members have not been fulfilled.


“Obama is out of step with his party, which is overwhelmingly in favor of marriage at this stage,” said David Mixner, a veteran gay rights activist who is among the organizers of a march on Washington for same-sex marriage scheduled for this fall. “He’s out of step with the next generation.”


But officials have told restive gays and lesbians to give them until the end of this month to show movement on a number of lower-profile issues they support, including restrictions on visas for people with HIV. The Pentagon also has toned down public opposition to reversing the gay ban, and the new secretary of the Army’s job will be, in part, to smooth the way for that move.

“The president remains fully committed to advancing LGBT rights. His positions on all of these issues are well-established and well-known. His staff continues to work with Congress on a variety of LGBT issues,” said Jim Messina, the deputy White House chief of staff who is the point man on gay and lesbian issues, citing White House efforts to move hate crimes legislation through the Senate. “While we recognize that some in the community are anxious, the president’s commitment has not wavered.”

I'm kind of torn about this. On the one hand, I'm bracing myself for a vigorous toss under the bus if the President thinks it's necessary to accomplish his ends. While I appreciate his cool demeanor, I labor under no illusion that he is not calculating as well. If he has to sacrifice the gay rights agenda to further his other ends, then I don't kid myself that he won't.

However, I have two reasons to be (relatively) sanguine about this. First of all, I support the vast majority of the ends he will be generally seeking, and I will grudgingly admit that I would rather see a successful reform of our health care system than the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act if I am forced to make a choice. I won't like it, but I can understand it. Secondly, I think we Easily-Angered Gay Types should remind ourselves that Obama has been POTUS for a whopping five months. Maybe, just maybe we should give him a bit more time and not freak out just yet.

I continue to be thoroughly disgusted by the ridiculous Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, and expect an improvement right quick. But I'm willing to chill out a bit, and take a long view.


  1. Hey, I've got an idea. Why doesn't Stutters McSpendypants use his super-awesome mental powers to, oh, fix Medicare? You know, the single-payer government medical program? The one about which the Council of Economic Advisors[0] says, and I quote, The large differences in spending suggest that nearly 30% of Medicare's costs could be saved without adverse health consequences.

    Let Mr. Obama demonstrate his mad governing skillz by slashing nearly 30% of Medicare's costs without adversely affecting outcomes, and I'll sign on to the Obama bandwagon to fix healthcare. Mr. Obama has everything he needs to do this already, and what an effective demonstration of the power of Smart Government this would be.

    [0] - although why the CEA think that a bloated Federal program for healthcare can be fixed by making a bigger program is beyond me.

  2. One of these moons, I will write more about government waste in healthcare spending. Just today I heard a story about how the state once paid to recarpet a house because a doctor wrote a note asserting that a kid in said house had allergies. I am perfectly willing to believe that 30% of Medicare costs could be cut with no adverse health consequences, though I wonder if cutting provider pay may be part of the deal. I would love to see Obama do it, John, so let's all just pop some popcorn and watch.

    I enjoy "Gadfly John."