Friday, May 11, 2012

Catch of the Day

To Steve Benen, who points us to a new DOD conclusion that DADT repeal is going, in Secretary Leon Pannetta's words, "very well" -- and reminds us that those who opposed repeal did in fact make a string of predictions that turned out to be flat-out wrong.

I'm a big fan of this sort of reporting/blogging: going back to look at predictions and seeing how they turned out. Of course, it isn't always relevant. Many bills are not contentious because of disagreement about whether government, for example, should do something -- not what will happen if government tries. But when it is relevant, the more of this we can get from reporters, the better, in my view. Of course, that goes together with something even more important -- reporting on implementation. Again, something that doesn't happen nearly as much as it should.

At any rate: nice catch!


  1. It is a nice catch indeed. Good article. The fault in the whole process of politics is the short memory of it. I think that the web and the media has changed this quite a bit. Politicians´actions will be recorded and they can be put into light by anyone who wants to put in some effort.

    Also Obama has made quite a huge turn in the issue of gay marriages. In the last election he was pleasing the conservative powers but in today´s presidential election he is flirting, or more like making love with the liberal side.

    I think you really cannot blame politicians. You cannot keep your course and promises all the time. You have to be able to make compromises in power. Otherwise no decisions will be made. Estimations of the future are also difficult.

  2. I think you've got an extra, and therefore confusing, "not" in this clause: "Many bills are not contentious because of disagreement about whether government, for example, should do something...."

  3. Far be it from me to stand athwart another liberal celebration of a conservative laid low, but Benen's exultation at McCain's "error" in not believing a priori surveys or post hoc analyses makes it seem a wee bit like Benen was born yesterday.

    A pollster sends a survey to a bunch of enlisted soldiers. "Your leaders, together with President Obama, have decided its time for the military to repeal DADT. You are a) comfortable with this, or b) likely to fly into a homophobic rage. Thank you for your participation. Oh, and don't forget to sign your name at the bottom of the survey". Benen apparently has no idea why McCain might have thought there was more to this story than the simple answers to surveys such as the above.

    Suppose you're part of a small squadron within a larger platoon. The various squadrons in the platoon get together to blow off steam and trade war stories. Someone from another squadron mentions a rumor that one of your guys is gay. If you defend your guy (and thus your squad), this could not possibly be due to omerta or pride or thinking you're the, you must certainly not be homophobic.

    Its funny, but in concluding that McCain was nuts to think the repeal of DADT would be an issue, Benen links to the McClatchy summary that it hasn't been a problem. Go read the McClatchy article for yourself; its not clear whether Benen did.

    If Benen had, he might have noticed that the first paragraph was a bit about a closeted gay marine and his tribulations: demurrals about dating women, sneaking away for an AIDS funeral, oh, and...staying silent while his fellows ranted about fags.

    Hm. McCain must have pulled his hesitation right out of his keyster, cause we can't possibly imagine who he was talking to in coming to the conclusion he did.

    1. CSH,

      That there was a history of discrimination against, and abuse of, gays and that gays had reason to be uncomfortable in the military were pretty well known. The question--once you've decided that eliminating the ban was a worthy thing to do--was, or should have been, whether there would be a backlash severe enough to make the situation worse than before--worse for the gay troops or worse for the military in general. If so, then I think you might have a valid reason to oppose it. Those who opposed it tended to argue (publicly, at least) that it shouldn't be done during a war, perhaps later. But I think that's exactly backward. Apart from people's responses to surveys, which might indeed be questionable, the history of black integration in the military suggests the opposite. Front-line troops had the fewest racial incidents. And when you think about it, it makes sense. They're the ones with real problems to concern themselves with. So I would go so far as to argue that during a war was the best time to do it.

    2. Scott, fwiw, I personally agree with your views. In fact, the omerta interpretation, for me, goes the farthest in explaining why ending DADT wouldn't be an issue: even the world's most inveterate homophobe is going to be cool with gays if one of his team happens to be homosexual. This is fairly obviously true since my team is fairly obviously the best (Indeed, I think this omerta explanation probably covers why inherent racism wasn't a problem in the integrated military either).

      That being said, it seems to me that McCain was simply incorrect in an assumption that was otherwise built on fairly solid ground. With all due respect to Steve Benen, it seems immature at best, and wretched at worst, to eschew saying "McCain thought this would happen. It didn't" in favor of "McCain was so obviously wrong why can't he just admit he sucked in this forecast, thus giving up even more pounds of flesh (than provided from just being wrong)?"

    3. That last was a bit harsh, and I feel bad, both for its harshness and also because I forgot to make my point:

      Going back to the McClatchy article, I think its fairly obvious (if you've, you know, been around) that McCain was taking his position in defense of the interests of those who ranted about fags around the closeted gay at the open of that article. Should McCain have done that? For several reasons, perhaps not. And that's a valid argument, for sure.

      But to come in, after the fact, when it turns out that the issues of McCain's constituency are offset by mitigating circumstances, and say that McCain should lead the charge to explain why he shouldn't have taken their part....that's...uh...not gonna say it, cause I'll surely regret it.

    4. CSH, you're bitter, and it makes you miss the point. Any military man will tell you that when a person is wrong, they need to admit it. And they need to figure out why they were wrong, so that they don't repeat it. When other people's lives are on the line, your vanity about not admitting error is egregious.

    5. Anonymous, John McCain is a politician; as such, when he takes a controversial position, such as supporting the concerns of a politically-incorrect group like the fag ranters in the McClatchy article, it would be vanishingly unlikely that he acknowledge his ulterior motive in an after-action report, however obvious the ulterior motive might be.

      I definitely agree that McCain should acknowledge his error and do posthoc due diligence to figure out why he was wrong. (That is, after all, a fairly conservative position). However, I'd as soon wait for the heat death of the universe than for McCain to actually do so.

      You and Mr. Benen are certainly welcome to wring your hands and wait for McCain to see the light; as for me I'd a thousand times rather read the analysis of someone like Scott Monje then wait along with you.


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