So, who told Obama that moving on DADT repeal wasn’t ‘good politics’?




Via Kerry Eleveld’s latest column:

That’s why I took note when President Obama kicked off the week last Sunday with some rather candid comments at the G-20 that seemed quite telling — comments that Joe Sudbay probed during the meeting with [Obama aide Melody] Barnes.

In response to a question about whether the administration would make good on its commitment to meet certain debt reduction goals, Obama said, “For some reason people keep on being surprised when I do what I said I was going to do. So I say I’m going to reform our health care system and people think, well, gosh, that’s not smart politics, maybe we should hold off. Or I say, we’re going to move forward on ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ and somehow people say, well, why are you doing that, I’m not sure that’s good politics.”

Now, the notion that the White House mounted a serious effort to push DADT forward this year is debatable, but what I was most struck by was the president’s assertion that some people say moving forward on “don’t ask, don’t tell” isn’t “good politics.” Which led me to wonder, who? Where is the president getting that from? Obviously, House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Carl Levin thought it was good politics, because they pressed the vote forward in both chambers, ostensibly concluding that inaction would in fact be worse politics. A very solid 70% of the American people consistently signal in poll after poll that it’s good politics (far more than were ever on board with the health care bill). And as a politician who campaigned regularly on the issue of repeal and won election handily, you would think Obama himself would believe that making good on a pledge to do something that’s so widely supported across the country would be good politics.

When I asked Barnes the question, I cited the CNN poll showing 78% of voters support allowing gays to serve openly. And, I mentioned that even Dick and Liz Cheney are on board with repeal.

So, who is telling Obama that it’s not good politics now? It sure sounds like someone with direct access to the President gave him that advice. To be fair, Barnes said it’s never come up in the meetings she’s attended. But, someone is giving Obama bad info.

It’s bad politics to abandon campaign promises and to reneg on a commitment made in the State of the Union.

Sounds like someone is practicing political homophobia.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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