The Corner

Better DADT Repeal than New START

Greg Sargent has Sen. Bob Corker being frank:

“I felt like momentum was growing for START,” Corker said, adding that since Reid announced he was holding votes on DADT and DREAM, it has had a “chilling effect.”

“I’m watching support for the treaty erode, because of highly partisan political issues being brought up solely because activist groups in the Democratic Party want this done,” he continued.

Corker said he wasn’t issuing a personal threat, and was merely commenting on the reaction of his Senate GOP colleagues. When I pressed Senator Corker on whether Republican Senators would really base their decision on START on whether Reid held a vote on DADT, Corker didn’t answer directly.

“That being thrown into the middle of this debate is causing many Republicans to want to see START pushed back and candidly is causing them to oppose it,” Corker said. “This is hardening them against passage of this treaty.”

If what Corker says is true, I hope Reid goes ahead and holds the DADT vote. Let’s be honest, both New START and DADT repeal are popular, and both are likely to pass without a concerted effort by Senate Republicans. But New START is much worse policy, and much more consequential, than DADT repeal.

I respect the opinions of the service chiefs who oppose ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but the writing is on the wall. Repeal is happening — whether it’s legislatively, judicially, or via a presidential stop-loss order. Gays and lesbians are going to serve openly in the armed forces, sooner rather than later. It is still an open question whether they can do so without significantly hurting operational readiness or PC-izing the military — I suspect the answer is yes on the first and no on the second — but it’s happening.

Contrast with New START, which is an awful treaty, made no better by the fact that many commendable folks (G.H.W. Bush, Condi Rice, etc.) find it commendable. Add to it that New START faces a higher threshold for passage (67 as opposed to 60 votes) and has only one route — the U.S. Senate — to ratification. To me it’s a no-brainer: Ratifying New START is much worse than ending DADT.

Feel free to disagree in the comments below.


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