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Obama endorses his Pentagon study that endorses his 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal that's still not happening

December 1, 2010 |  3:52 am

Afghanistan US Chopper delivers supplies to troops

You know how magicians say, "Now watch this hand carefully."

And so you do, forgetting for a moment, as the magician hopes you will, that he has another hand somewhere?

On Tuesday the Obama administration's long-awaited Defense Department report on trashing the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy toward gays came out. Predictably, it found a large majority of the military in favor and no more than minor potential disruptions to repealing the law signed by fellow Democratic President Clinton in 1993.

Just by chance, these results happen to fit perfectly with what President Obama says he wants to do.

Immediately, Obama issued a statement reiterating how much he really sincerely wants to get rid of this law, which he says "weakens our national security, diminishes our military readiness and violates fundamental principles of American fairness and equality."

Obama added: "Today’s report confirms that a strong majority of our military ...

... men and women and their families — more than two-thirds — are prepared to serve alongside Americans who are openly gay and lesbian." (Never mind that this also means nearly one-third, or about 600,000 volunteer troops, are not so prepared to serve there.)

Obama also pointedly noted that Defense Secretary Robert Gates has publicly endorsed the policy, as has the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen. As it happens, both men work for Obama.

For some reason, even Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, chimed in for repeal.

But wait!

It's been about three whole years since candidate Obama promised to dump DADT, long before he ever thought of ordering a custom-made Pentagon study.

Repeal was going to be one of the very first things the new Democratic crowd did upon winning both houses of Congress in 2008 with lopsided majorities and the White House with a comfortable margin over that out-of-touch geezer John McCain, himself a combat veteran who thinks the current policy is working just fine as is, especially given that we are at war still, again.a Rabbit in a Hat

Repeal was one of Obama's top campaign vows, along with going through the budget line by line to curb out-of-control federal spending and shuttering that awful Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Neither of which has happened either.

All this year Obama and VP Joe Biden told fundraising crowds to be patient because, not to worry, repeal was certainly in the cards. And when California demonstrators tried to shout down Obama over the repeal delay, he said they should know he really agreed with them.

Tuesday evening, Organizing for America, the president's perpetual campaigning arm, dispatched millions of e-mails titled "Big News on Don't Ask Don't Tell." The "big news" is that the Pentagon study "confirms what we've long known." And it appealed for everyone to sign a presidential petition to someone to end what the president has long said he wants to end.

The e-mail failed to explain why, if the benefits are so "long known," the law hasn't been long-gone under Democratic majorities so long supportive.

It would seem that pretty much everyone says they are on board over DADT repeal. Even the federal court has thrown out the law as unconstitutional, although counterintuitively Obama's Justice Department is appealing that decision.

The House, with its overwhelming majority of Democrats set to disappear by month's end, has passed repeal. But Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who has controlled nearly 60 of the 100 votes for the last 23 months, somehow hasn't persuaded the Senate to follow suit.

Yesterday morning the president held a bipartisan political summit to discuss the top goals for the increasingly lame lame-duck Congress in its declining days.

In his nearly 2,000-word summary afterward, Obama said they talked of several important agenda items: extending the Bush tax cuts and unemployment insurance and addressing the federal deficit and ratifying the START treaty. And how unfortunate it is when politicians just talk to score political points instead of getting the job done.

So, it seems that in order to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" this month the president will need to use his other hand to pull out some kind of magic trick.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times