Just a few weeks ago, current White House press secretary Robert Gibbs promised 'a one word answer' when it came to repealing the ban on gays openly serving in the military. Apparently the one word is 'overpromising' -- which seems to be fast becoming the watchword of the new administration:
The Obama administration is telling the Pentagon and gay-rights advocates that it will have to study the implications for national security and enlist more support in Congress before trying to overturn the so-called "don't ask, don't tell" law and allow gays to serve openly in the military, according to people involved in the discussions.
They said Obama, who pledged during the campaign to overturn the law, does not want to ask lawmakers to do so until the military has completed a comprehensive assessment of the impact that such a move would have on military discipline. Then, the president hopes to be able to make a case to members of both parties that overturning the 1993 law would be in the best interest of national security.
So if I read this right, the Obama administration may or may not be backing off its 'one-word' answer. And if they're sticking by the pledge -- which certainly seems to be in question -- the appearance they've created is that they've already decided to kowtow to the gay rights groups that form a part of the Democratic base, and now they just need to cook up a study to demonstrate that it won't hurt military effectiveness.
A competent administration would pick a position and stick to it. The best position would probably be to commit to doing nothing that compromises the security of the American people, but Gibbs ruled that one out when he promised that Obama would repeal the policy. Now they seem to have realized that it might be a political liability, so they're trying to backtrack -- but have only succeeded in clouding the issue.
It seems that the Obama team has learned nothing from studying the mistakes of the Clinton administration. They too, took a stand on repealing the policy, only to realize it was too big a lift. Now the Obama team too, has set themselves up to make someone angry, no matter how they ultimately square the circle.