Friday, May 15, 2009

But This Is Different...

There's been liberal handwringing at the President's refusal to intervene in the case of Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point-educated Officer (this seems to be important, it comes up in everything - like he wouldn't matter if he was a grunt who came through community college?) who is an Arabic language specialist who came out on the Rachel Maddow show a few weeks ago, and has been fired by the U.S. military. Jon Stewart's mini-takedown is below and, while I agree with his anger, I don't think the presentation (from the media in general) is entirely fair.

One thing I will say first: I think the Obama Administration is going about this wrong, I think they should be absolutely pushing for legislation to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And perhaps, as Feministing says, he could suspend investigations into sexuality (although that wouldn't have helped Choi, who came out on television -harder to ignore, perhaps). But my point is that in one sense Obama's right that it is not his place to do this - because it needs legislation. It's a LAW. It's not some stupid Executive Order (unlike those ridiculous healthcare provider conscience things that Bushy Boy pushed through and Obama revoked), it's a law that was passed by both chambers and signed by the President. The President, as we've heard everyone (rightly) argue about the torture laws, does not get to pick and choose which laws to obey. He doesn't get to write an Executive Order and somehow, magically, it's not the law anymore. He does need to stick his boot up the arses of Congress to work on this. No doubt. But he has a constitutional mandate to execute and take care the laws are obeyed.

Yes, this is awful and it's an absolutely ridiculous, damaging, dangerous and unsafe law, but when Bushy Boy and Cheney et al. were violating and ordering violations of the laws of war, of the UCMJ, of the Convention Against Torture, this was thrown against them constantly - you can't disobey the law. To willfully misquote Lincoln, it's not all the laws but one. Now that the disobedience is something liberals want, Obama is supposed to disobey separation of powers? I thought he won, at least in part, because he represented a return to order and to respectful adherence to the Constitution and the structural balancing of powers.

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To repeat, again, he needs to throw his weight behind repeal of this. Their inaction is a disgrace. But make sure when you criticise him, it's for the right reasons.

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