Posted by Rojas @ 1:25 am on May 28th 2010

Guess who just voted to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?

If you’re reading it on this blog, you’ve probably figured it out already…

Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., Ron Paul, R-Texas, Joseph Cao, R-La., and Charles Djou, R-Hawaii, were the only Republicans to vote in favor of scrapping the law.

I am delighted…and bewildered. Dr. Paul was unambiguously pro-DADT on the campaign trail in 2008, and we at this blog went round and round trying to square that stance with the rest of his principles (see the comments thread here).

There is not a clue on his website as to what prompted this vote; my best guess is that he will attempt to explain this in terms of a desire to overturn the Congressional mandate of DADT, thereby leaving the military free to set its own rules.

Or maybe…dare I hope…he had the same trouble squaring this with his principles that the rest of us did, and changed his mind.

History is going to judge the Republicans who voted in favor of this very much the way it judges those who broke the filibuster on the Civil Rights Act. I think particular congratulations have to go out to Cao on this; it will be a brutally tough sell in his constituency, and it’s not like he’s going to have the easiest road to reelection in any case.

5 Comments »

  1. And for fairness’ sake: Jack Conway favors repeal; I cannot find anything definitive on Rand Paul’s stance on the matter.

    Comment by Rojas — 5/28/2010 @ 1:32 am

  2. I always kind of suspected that Paul had just never thought very deeply about matters relating to orientation. That was part generational, and part just what animates him (which is not, by and large, cultural issues, although to his discredit—as a civil rights issue, some ought to be very “live” for him). But his stances on DADT and gay marriage always struck me as kind of ill-considered, in the literal sense of it. And I don’t mean that as an excuse, because as I said it still doesn’t speak very highly of him, but, contra some of his critics, he never struck me as a bigot save in the sense that my grandfather was a bigot on matters of race. It wasn’t malicious, just sort of naivety wrapped in ignorance wrapped in a big dose of “who cares?” (small consolation, of course, to those that do care).

    Comment by Brad — 5/28/2010 @ 11:52 am

  3. Ron gets it right, although funny framing it as a fiscal matter.

    “I have received several calls and visits from constituents who, in spite of the heavy investment in their training, have been forced out of the military simply because they were discovered to be homosexual,” Paul said Friday. “To me, this seems like an awful waste. Personal behavior that is disruptive should be subject to military discipline regardless of whether the individual is heterosexual or homosexual. But to discharge an otherwise well-trained, professional, and highly skilled member of the military for these reasons is unfortunate and makes no financial sense.”

    Comment by Brad — 5/29/2010 @ 11:16 am

  4. Fascinating. I just re-read the 2007 link and our discussion (I had totally forgotten that I signed in as “Misanthrope” back when I was just a commenter). This vote puts a fascinating color on that three year old debate. I wonder if his shift on this issue is a matter of changing views, greater understanding of DADT, or simply not being in the middle of a GOP primary.

    I think his framing is his safest political move, and not wrong at all.

    Comment by Jack — 5/29/2010 @ 10:40 pm

  5. I just re-read it too. I think all of us stand up pretty well, but ultimately, I was right. :)

    By the by, let me save this one for later:

    The first is a principle that I’m going to coin at some point, if I can put a phrase to it, wherein the longer shot a candidate or party has, the higher the bar they’re held too. Nobody blinks an eye when, say, the Democratic party helps Bush pass his FISA bill, or when Hillary Clinton supports the Patriot Act (and does still), or when Rudy Giuliani tells his city to not enforce federal immigration laws, or pushes for gun control, or when John McCain passes a law legalizing torture, or whatever. But if a third party, or a longshot candidate, has one issue that somebody doesn’t like they declare the whole thing dead to them. It’s almost like the closer to power a person is, the more willing people are to accept their compromises and just assume it part for the course. We demand, say, 51% agreeability of our Hillary Clinton’s or Rudy Giuliani’s, to consider voting for them. We demand 100% or close to consider voting anybody farther down the scale of electability. Which, unsurprisingly, leads us to vote and support candidates 49% of whose positions we actively wish to work against. I’ve never quite understood that impetus, but the more times I get involved with causes or candidates that aren’t the designated mainstream obvious ones, the more I run into it, where people are far, far more apt to nitpick and cherry pick as a basis to declare that person completely unsupportable (even if the difference between how much of their platform you agree with is 90% vs 51% for the candidate you wind up voting for).

    Andrew Sullivan has a post on that the other day (based on a Conor Freidersdorf post). He frames it a different way, but it’s the same point.

    Comment by Brad — 5/30/2010 @ 12:52 am

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