Don't Ask, Don't Tell was used to hurt gays and lesbians in uniform, and the president who signed on to it is now laying the blame for the toll it has taken on the careers of well-trained, loyal members of the military at the door of others. (PageOneQ):
Former President Bill Clinton, while on the campaign trail for his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), said that anti-gay forces made 10 USC 654, or the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, do more than he says it was meant to do.
...As Servicemembers Legal Defense Network outlines, Don't Ask has been used as a tool to gradually erode the rights of gay servicemembers, with increasing precedent being set to probe into their personal lives for purposes of "rooting out" those suspected of being gay.
Clinton, who signed Don't Ask into law in 1993, says he and then-Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Colin Powell meant for the policy only to govern gay servicemembers while they were on duty or in uniform.
Servicemembers, says Clinton, "would be free to live their lives; as long as they didn't go marching in gay rights parades or go to gay bars in uniform... In uniform... and talk about it on duty, they would be all right."
I haven't looked this up, folks, but do you remember anything about gay folks being able to go out and be out when off duty in civilian clothing when he was selling this policy? I'm certain the homophobes on the Hill would have had none of that. If Clinton wants to say his hands were tied and he was "forced" to accept DADT as compromise with a hostile Congress (the prior excusarama), that we've heard before, but it seems disingenuous to try to spin it today as he didn't think the witchhunts and discharges would be the end result of such a bone-headed policy.
As you might recall, it was Bill Clinton who told John Kerry to toss gays under the bus and support the various state marriage amendments on the ballot in 2004 in order to rope in swing voters uneasy with the thought of gays and lesbians daring to ask for the same civil rights in their relationships as those enjoyed by opposite-sex couples.
The long legacy of triangulation and the Clintons is too familiar not to make this new statement sound like another bit of Bill revisionist history going on; he says the firewall protecting the private lives of gay and lesbian service members was Colin Powell, and that when he left office, it was a bum rush to investigate and bounce homos. Watch the video here.
In semi-related news, other big-dog Dems are telling Bill Clinton to shut his pie hole instead of trying to "help" Hillary's campaign by triangulating on race.
Prominent Democrats are upset with the aggressive role that Bill Clinton is playing in the 2008 campaign, a role they believe is inappropriate for a former president and the titular head of the Democratic Party. In recent weeks, Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, both currently neutral in the Democratic contest, have told their old friend heatedly on the phone that he needs to change his tone and stop attacking Sen. Barack Obama, according to two sources familiar with the conversations who asked for anonymity because of their sensitive nature. Clinton, Kennedy and Emanuel all declined to comment.
...[T]here's concern that in hatcheting the Illinois senator and losing his temper with the news media (last week he thrashed a San Francisco TV reporter for asking about a lawsuit filed by Clinton-backing teachers union members to limit the number of Nevada caucuses), Clinton is drawing down his political capital and harming his role as a global statesman. "This is excruciating," says a member of the Clintons' circle, who asked for anonymity. "But the stakes couldn't be higher. It's worth it to tarnish himself a bit now to win the presidency."