View From the Hill

As stress continues to take its toll on a military stretched to its limits, dismissals of gay soldiers press forward with no sign that the White House has a plan to lift the armed forces' ban.

BY Kerry Eleveld

May 14 2009 11:00 PM ET

WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS 02 X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

Reporters peppered Gibbs with questions again on Friday. Was this just one more campaign promise he was backing away from? Doesn't firing specialized soldiers like Arabic linguists put our troops in danger? Couldn't the president put a moratorium on the discharges while the legislation was being hashed out?

Gibbs said the president had determined that halting the discharges via executive order was not a "lasting or durable solution" and focused again on changing the policy through legislation.

Since the White House seems fixated on congressional action, allow me to point out that while a bill has been introduced in the House, no bill has been "dropped" in the Senate, as they say on the Hill. In fact, I have been sniffing around here for weeks and have yet to find a single sign that the "legislative vehicle" Gibbs speaks of is being pushed forward. I have asked the White House press office for any sign of advancement. Nothing.

And with the exception of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, LGBT groups appear to have ceded the issue almost entirely to the White House. Even when someone like national security adviser Gen. James Jones goes on TV, shrugs his shoulders, and says "I don't know" if the military policy will be overturned, all we hear is radio silence from everyone but SLDN.

That silence might be music to my ears if it were accompanied by any movement -- any sign that all this LGBT White House access was working some magic -- but it's not.

The truth is, President Obama is calling the legislative shots on the Hill right now. And if he wanted lawmakers to introduce a repeal bill in the Senate so that lobbyists could start building support, he could do it with, say, the snap of his fingers. But apparently all that silence isn't getting him into the groove either.

Tags: Politics

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