Wow. People, think of the ramifications of this – Joe Solmonese slid into NC on February 27 making a bold promise of DADT repeal in 2010 — on camera — raking in the dough for HRC after this occurred (Kerry Eleveld reporting):
“Yet just days after the January 27 [SOTU] speech, White House officials convened a meeting on February 1 with LGBT advocates in which they said the policy would not be included in the president’s recommendations for this year’s Department of Defense authorization bill, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the meeting.”
Naturally, David Smith, who was at that meeting, is denying in a slippery manner, and the White House isn’t commenting at all – not a good sign if they want to clear the air.
“It was a definitive shut-down from [Jim] Messina,” said a source, who was present at the meeting and agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, referring to the White House deputy chief of staff. “He said it would not be going into the president’s Defense authorization budget proposal.” The news was a blow to activists since the Defense funding bill is the best legislative vehicle for including a measure to overturn the policy. “It almost seemed like the bar on the hurdle got raised two or three times higher,” said the source.
The White House declined to comment on the meeting.
But the Human Rights Campaign’s David Smith, who also attended the meeting, recalls it differently.
“They were noncommittal about legislation in that meeting, but not definitively one way or the other,” said Smith, vice president of programs for HRC.
And I can say here today on the Blend that I have heard the exact same story about that meeting Kerry has reported on –from three independent sources. As in her case, none are willing to go on the record. Why? I can’t speak for the sources, but DC is a company town — with the industry being politics. I’ve remarked before that I’ve never seen so much free leaking in my life — nothing stays a secret for long, as long as it doesn’t go on the record, which could jeopardize professional relationships that are tightly intertwined. It doesn’t mean those sources are wrong — Kerry’s article only strengthens the case, and places more heat on HRC regardless of the spin.
The President breaking his promise on DADT repeal — we know that the dance around defense authorization with Robert Gibbs has been going on for months — is a bit of a red herring here. Gibbs hasn’t answered simple “yes” or “no” questions from Kerry in the press gallery for months, no matter how keenly she’s recalibrated the question. The only conclusion one can come to is that the WH is politically afraid to answer directly.
But as you see above, there is this secondary, but no less important story about how our lobbying organization on the Hill conducts its business. One of the core definitions of non-profit institutional rot is when an organization’s leadership crosses the line, willing to abandon the core mission in order in favor of sustaining its bloat. This has nothing to do with the hard work of the people doing the work on the ground in good faith, true believers accomplishing work that advances equality goals. That’s what makes it so insidious.
Is that what is happening here? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. Why, for instance, would Joe Solmonese purposely, definitively, go on the road, before cameras, before donors at all levels with their checkbooks out, and say that DADT will be repealed this year? Well, the cash flows in if people sitting at those tables believe HRC has the influence to make it happen then goals of one kind are achieved, but it certainly isn’t mission based.
I have to tell you, since I was there at that HRC Carolinas dinner when he said
“And finally, finally this year we are going to bring down the discriminatory policy known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’…once and for all.”
I thought “wow, he’s making news here — we must have DADT in the bag. Surely he wouldn’t say this if it wasn’t true; he has access to top WH officials.” I asked random attendees about the statement and many really didn’t have a clue about the winding legislative, military and WH role in advocacy about repeal. But they did believe Joe.
Is this the best we can do here? Is there any accountability? Think – would this be acceptable in any other non-profit? If true, I think this kind of leadership is at best sleazy and at worst outright fraud. Re: DADT, unless you know you have all the political ducks in a row to make it happen why would you make such a definitive statement like that? Do you just tell donors “oops” when it all goes down in the crapper — then ask for more scratch?
* ADVOCATE: White House backed away from DADT repeal in early Feb.: ‘It was a definitive shut-down from [Jim] Messina’
* Joe Solmonese gets air kisses from White House “gay gatekeeper” Jim Messina in WaPo article
* Robert Gibbs finally admits the Obama Admin has no intention of pushing DADT repeal in 2010