With a 65-31 vote on Saturday, the Senate cleared the way for the military to end its 17-year-old "Don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military. Eight Republicans joined with Democrats to pass the repeal bill. (Watch The Week's Sunday Talk Show Briefing about DADT's repeal.) The House had already passed such legislation, and President Obama says he will sign the bill when it reaches his desk, fulfilling a campaign promise. Here's a look at some of the winners and losers from the successful repeal effort:
Gay service members: The repeal of DADT "is a well-overdue spoil for all military members and for all Americans," says Devrie Wise in Yahoo News. But it is especially "monumental" for gay military personnel who deserve the "peace of mind" that they won't be humiliatingly thrown out of the service over cellphone pictures with significant others or because they "had a few too many drinks and mentioned something in front of the wrong people."
President Obama: The slow progress on this early campaign promise made Obama the target of "hecklers" and withering criticism from his "left flank," says Steve Brusk at CNN. And after the anger from liberals over his recent tax deal with the GOP, Obama needed to "deliver this victory to the left." The win is also testament to Obama's strategic prowess, says Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic. Because he took the time to get buy-in from all levels of the military, and then Congress, the DADT repeal is "much more entrenched."
Sen. Joe Lieberman: Lieberman's "persistent and forceful" advocacy of repealing DADT is "the biggest single reason" it happened, says Steve Kornacki in Salon. But it's hard not to see "political calculation" at work here. Lieberman (I-Conn.) may have been trying "to reestablish some goodwill" with his home-state Democrats ahead of a challenging 2012 re-election bid. Still, it was Lieberman's friendships with moderate Republicans and his "reputation as a hawk" that let him succeed where more liberal Democrats would have failed, says Greg Sargent in The Washington Post.
Lady Gaga: The pop star won accolades for her strong advocacy of a repeal, and forged a Twitter connection with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who "kept Lady Gaga abreast of the afternoon's proceedings" via the site, says Juli Weiner in Vanity Fair. "@ladygaga We did it! #DADT is a thing of the past!" Reid tweeted. "Gaga did not do Reid the courtesy of an @-reply," but she did tweet a victorious: "Can't hold back the tears + pride. We did it!! Our voice was heard."
Sen. John McCain: The Senate's leading opponent of DADT repeal not only lost the fight, he also lost what's left of his cool, says Dana Milbank in The Washington Post. His vitriol was "one part argument, four parts tantrum," which was "all the more striking because the general tone of the debate was tame." McCain's neo-segregationist stand did more than highlight his "transition from 'maverick' to petulant right-winger," says Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. He's now a "bitter, cantankerous" hack who's "trashed any hopes he might have had about a respectable legacy."
Marine commandant James Amos: "Alone among the service chiefs, Amos has spoken out repeatedly and passionately against a repeal of DADT," says John Barry in Newsweek. Now, perhaps "the most immediate question concerns the future of the Marine Corps commandant." His opposition is perhaps "understandable," given the Marines' unique culture and his "own views as a committed Christian," but now that "Congress has finally acted," can he "in all conscience, lead the Marines into this new world?"
Sen. Joe Manchin: Manchin (D-WV) skipped the vote on DADT for a family Christmas party, says Steve Clemons in The Washington Note. "This is a bad punctuation point to his new Senate career," and it will "stain his reputation and his electoral donations for a long time." Keep in mind, while Manchin was toasting the holidays, Lieberman — an Orthodox Jew who "has been careful not to work on the Sabbath" for years — not only showed up on a Saturday but "did a masterful job of marshalling Don't Ask Don't Tell forward."
Bill Clinton: As with health care reform, Obama delivered on a promise that had stymied Clinton, says Ron Elving at NPR. Clinton had to fall back on the compromise after his Truman-like move to end the military's ban on gays by fiat, but it never pleased anyone. "Clinton left office knowing 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' had failed," says former Clinton aide Richard Socarides, to the San Francisco Chronicle. "And while its demise is certainly something to celebrate, it's taken far too long and too many careers have been sacrificed."
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