Bill Richardson is a funny guy. He's affable, charming, and amusingly mischievous. He's the kind of guy I'd love to have a beer with, if I still drank. And unlike that other amiable guy who wanted to be president - George W. Bush - Bill Richardson is smart. He's got the resume to prove it.
So when Richardson told me he wants to be an "activist" president on our behalf, I believed him. The problem is I've become skeptical, maybe even cynical, after our community's experience with Bill Clinton. Now I want to know exactly HOW Richardson - or any of the other candidates, for that matter - will fulfill their promises.
That's why I pressed Richardson on his pledge to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" at the ANGLE breakfast meeting in West Hollywood last Monday. Considering that Congress can't pass an immigration bill or end the war in Iraq, how in the world does he expect to repeal the policy? Richardson said:
By being bi-partisan. By making things happen. I'm a negotiator. You know I got from Saddam Husein two American hostages. From the North Koreans. Bad people like me - that's my point. (Laughter) ... I know how to do this. You know you don't want just presidents that give lofty speeches. You want presidents that get their hands dirty. Get in there, in the arena and are not afraid to tackle the difficult issues. DOMA will be tough. Don't Ask, Don't Tell will be tough. It's going to take legislation. I checked to see if by executive order you can repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell - apparently you can't. It has to go straight in an Armed Services bill and amendment to repeal.Right. Richardson didn't mention the Military Readiness Enhancement Act. I reminded him that the religious right still holds sway over many in Congress and consider us "Satan's kids." How's he going to deal with them?