Obama's DADT Repeal Campaign Rally

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 22 2010 9:26 AM

Obama's DADT Repeal Campaign Rally

The very last argument that opponents of Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal used wasn't very convincing. It was a political operation, they said. It wasn't about strengthening the military. It was about a political win for Barack Obama.

Maybe they weren't right about the motivations, but they were right about the effects. The signing ceremony for repeal was even more of a pep rally than the typical signing ceremony, and these things are always about politics. It was not signed in the White House; it was signed in the sizable James S. Copley Auditorium at the Interior Department. So it had room for activists, the sort of people who once heckled Obama at fundraisers or got arrested in protests (like Dan Choi). Now they were screaming "We love you!" and listening to a high-flying Obama speech comparable to his speech before the signing of health care reform.

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"There can be little doubt," said Obama, "there were gay soldiers who fought for independence, who stormed the beaches at Normandy." Today's gay soldiers "stand for all those who came before you and you will serve as role models for all who come after you."

Nobody seems to like theater criticism-as-political-criticism, but if you compare Obama's look when he signed the tax cut deal and his look when he signed this, it was night and deal. He set his jaw signing the tax deal; he smiled and laughed while signing this. After doing it he smacked the table and pronounced "this is done."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.