Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Daily Strike-2/2/10-Don't Ask

Good evening and welcome to the Daily Strike. This angle has been overplayed, but we're talking about a floundering health care plan, gays in the military, and a pending Democratic electoral nightmare. Is it 1994 again?

DADT: There was a very interesting hearing on Capitol Hill today in which Senators grilled top Pentagon officials on repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy relating to gays in the military. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that it's not a matter of if the policy is overturned, but how and when. Perhaps more surprisingly, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen, also strongly endorsed the idea that gays and lesbians should be able to serve openly in the United States military. It's pretty significant when the military establishment is pushing for a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

I've never been particularly passionate about this issue, because I think it is premised on two largely more important issues: the broader struggle for LGBT rights, and why the Pentagon needs such a broad military force that they're willing to overlook their past prejudices. That said, if Congress can pull off a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, it would be a major victory for equal rights. It can also be done relatively easily if Congress overturns the ban in its annual Defense Authorization Bill.

THE WHITE HOUSE: The President has decided to put himself out there a bit more over the past week. Today, he held a town hall meeting in Nashua, NH to promote a proposal to give $30 billion in loans to the Small Business Administration. This is one of several proposals on the table intended to accelerate job creation. I wish the United States Senate would get going on some of these proposals, but the likeliness of that happening soon is not good.

ELECTION UPDATE: Today is primary day in Illinois. Voters in the Land of Lincoln will choose nominees for this fall's Senate and Gubernatorial races. It is very possible that incumbent Democratic Governor Pat Quinn loses his primary race tonight to state comptroller Dan Hynes. In the Senate races, the favorite on the Democratic side to replace Roland Burris is State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. He is locked in a pretty close race with Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman. On the Republican side, "moderate" Rep. Mark Kirk is expected to win the primary relatively easily, despite challenges from the far-right. I have this race listed as a tossup, though recent polling shows that Democrats might not be as doomed here as they are in other places.

Speaking of Lincoln and doomed, two new polls today show that Arkansas Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln is toast in her reelection bid this year no matter which Republican she faces. And for those of you who think the seat could be saved if Lincoln retires, no other Democratic candidates fare well either. As PPP polls director Tom Jensen said, Arkansas voters are just not in the mood to elect a Democrat this year. I hope Lincoln sees the writing on the wall and focuses her last year in office on being a good legislator. Chances are, she will freak out about this polling and tack hard to the right. As a result of these two polls, we are changing Senator Lincoln's race from "Lean Republican" to "Likely Republican."

That's it for tonight. No significant action to report from Congress today, though the House did vote on a few suspension bills. The Senate is out of session tomorrow for the Democrats' policy retreat, which President Obama will attend.

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