Tuesday, November 09, 2010


A lot of people I respect seem to be astonished at the fact that Mitch McConnell is threatening a filibuster of the defense appropriations bill if it includes repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. Matt Yglesias:

... Just as a pure political spectacle here, this is a thing to behold. Filibustering defense appropriations bills is politically risky. And to do it in order to support a hugely unpopular position on a related issue is a giant risk. It'd be one thing if 60% of the public was on the Republicans' side about DADT. But it's not. Instead this is a 70-30 issue that cuts against them.

But not only are they getting away with the filibuster, they're
turning their obstruction into a political winner.... from a sports fan type perspective you really have to admit that Mitch McConnell has delivered a gutsy virtuoso performance as a legislative leader....

Scott Lemieux:

... the Democrats are pre-emptively capitulating on an issue on which they hold the political leverage. As Matt says, filibustering defense appropriations bills is unpopular, and DADT is unpopular. Certainly, if the shoe was on the other foot McConnell would force the Dems to filibuster multiple times and put intense pressure on the moderates.....

And Steve Benen calls this "the inexplicable fight over DADT."

It's not inexplicable. Democrats don't hold the political leverage. McConnell is not gutsy.

Scott says that "filibustering defense appropriations bills is unpopular." Wrong. Filibustering defense appropriations bills is unpopular when Democrats do it. When Democrats do it, it's because they're "Kumbaya"-singing, sandal-wearing, America-hating commies. When Republicans do it, the people who raise a stink when Democrats do it "know" they're doing it for a good reason.

They "know" because they're socially conservative right-wingers and Reagan Democrats, and Fox News and talk radio tell them what that good reason is: the Democrats' defense appropriation bill must be stopped because it's full of "social engineering" that's being "shoved down our throats" by all those "elitists" and "San Francisco Democrats."

And even though these people are very much in the minority, there are almost certainly more of them who'll make their homophobia a big factor in their vote -- say, against senators up for reelection in 2012 -- than there are those of us who'll do the same with our support for equal rights. We may be the 70% group that supports equality, but the vast majority of us just don't care as much as the antis do. (Yes, I know you care a lot, as do Matt and Scott and Steve and I and many of the people we know, but we're just not representative.)

McConnell understands all this. So what he's doing is a pretty safe move, and it will be until we make more of that 70% group passionate about this issue.

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