Thursday, December 9, 2010

DADT repeal fails: someone needs to explain Joe Manchin's job to him

Terrible news: the Senate failed to break a GOP filibuster of the Defense Authorization Bill, including a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Well, perhaps it isn't fair to call it a "GOP filibuster," since only 39 of the 40 votes against cloture came from Republicans.  The 40th came from newly elected Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.  And reading his explanation, may I just say:

"Oy vey."

Manchin said he is "very sympathetic to those who passionately support the repeal," but added that he needs more time "to visit and hear the full range of viewpoints from the citizens of West Virginia."
Now, that quote is obnoxious enough for me to agree completely with Atrios.  If a Senator wants to be a bigot, that's fine, but he shouldn't try to use his constituents to excuse his bigotry.

But the next part makes me think that Joe Manchin doesn't understand which branch of the government he now works in:

Besides, Manchin added -- if supporters of repeal are upset with the Senate vote, they can always go talk to President Obama about ending DADT discharges with a stroke of his pen.

"While I may disagree with a repeal of DADT at this time, some believe that President Obama, as Commander-in-Chief, if he so chooses, has the authority to suspend discharges under DADT, if he deems it a matter of national security," Manchin said. "If this is correct, and the President was to make such an order, while I may disagree with it, I would respect his authority as President to do so."

Way to go, Senator: not only are you a bigot, you're willing to allow a President to ignore  a federal law, in order to provide you cover for your bigotry.  It's an incredibly hateful, senseless, and dangerous law, and it might well be unconstitutional.  But it's a law nonetheless, and the time for the Executive Branch to decide whether or not to follow a law is before the bill is signed into law.  It's why the President has a veto power.  After the law is enacted, his job is to "take care that the law be faithfully executed" until it's repealed by Congress or enjoined by the Courts.

Of course, Obama unilaterally ending DADT would give Manchin a reason to attack Obama ("I respect the authority of the Commander-in-Chief to make this decision, but exercising this power to promote the homosexual agenda is blah blah blah I hate gays...").  And Manchin would do it in a heartbeat.

But while Manchin might find short-term political gain in trying to prevent equal justice (though he has to run again in 2012, I don't get why he thinks there's any big need to look like a dick now, just weeks after taking office), he's trying to boost his own fortunes at the expense of his co-equal branch and basic human dignity.


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