Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reax to Obama's HRC Campaign Speech

"I'm fresh off of SiriusOutQ's coverage of the HRC Dinner, and I have to tell you, the low expectations I had regarding LGBT policy were unfortunately met on that account. If you're an activist or citizen looking for timelines, actions, use of the bully pulpit, ANYTHING that would indicate to the community that our President was serious about moving on the laundry list of LGBT issues any time soon, you would call it a fail.

However, I have to agree with Sean Bugg, my fellow commentator on the coverage tonight, who made a great point that if you aren't a wonk or activist clued in to the messy politics going on behind the scenes, this speech is a huge home run of support from the President of the United States to a kid out in the sticks who watches it can now feel he is part of the American fabric. In our cynical view of the political system, jaded by the hypocrisy and spinning we see each day, as well as outright lying by pols and advocates, you have to remember how this speech can resonate with non-political LGBTs and straight America. The President actually engaged with a segment of our community in his first term to affirm support for the LGBT community. I doubt you'll see him endure sane, rational criticism from the right on this other than the usual whines from the fringes who already think he's Satan/Hitler/Muslim terrorist, etc. That's progress on its own and it should not be minimized."
- mixed assessment offered by Pam Spaulding on her blog Pam House Blend

"What's particularly disturbing is how President Obama contradicts himself, and his own administration, when talking to a gay crowd. The president claimed that he's for treating gay couples just like married couples. Then why is he against letting gay couples marry? The president claimed that it doesn't matter if we're at war and working on health care and lots of other important issues, we must forget ahead on gay civil rights. Then why is Obama's own administration putting out the talking point that they can't move ahead on gay rights until the wars are over, until health care is over, until Obama has less on his plate? Even General Jones last week said we can't do DADT because we're at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But President Obama claimed today that precisely because we're at war it is important to lift the ban now." - John Aravosis on his blog, AMERICAblog.

"But the sad truth is: he is refusing to take any responsibility for his clear refusal to fulfill clear campaign pledges on the core matter of civil rights and has given no substantive, verifiable pledges or deadlines by which he can be held accountable. What that means, I'm afraid, is that this speech was highfalutin bullshit. There were no meaningful commitments within a time certain, not even a commitment to fulfilling them in his first term; just meaningless, feel-good commitments that we have no way of holding him to. Once the dust settles, ask yourself. What did he promise to achieve in the next year? Or two years? Or four years? The answer is: nothing." - Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish hosted at The Atlantic

We have heard all of this before from Obama during the campaign -- he supports us, he will sign certain bills. He can crack jokes about Lady Gaga. But what we are lacking is that "fierce advocate" he promised to be. No timetables. No words of support for those fighting in Maine. And no news. We've heard this speech before and nearly a year into his administration, nothing has changed.

As for the Human Rights Campaign, its president, Joe Solmonese, expects us to wait until 2017 before we judge President Obama's tenure. That's too long to wait for LGBT members of our military being expelled. That's too long to wait for those being fired from their jobs for being gay. That's too long to wait for couples being financially destroyed because our relationships are deemed inferior to those of our staight counterparts. That's too long to wait for me and it should be too long to wait for you and all of us. The Eashington Blade

This speech brought us nothing new. And I give it an "F."
"I guess it was a good speech — a great one considering that it reflects the sentiment of a sitting president. “My commitment to you is unwavering,” he said, and I actually believe it as far as the speech goes. Which makes it a home-run of a speech when compared to previous Presidents’ speeches I can name. And I really like the way he promised to stand behind his LGBT appointees against a blistering attack by the right.

And we must not lose sight of the fact that he is speaking before a major LGBT advocacy group. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall a president speaking before, say, Focus On the Family or at the Values Voter Summit. Obama’s presence at the HRC made for about an hour’s worth of video tape to be used by his opponents in 2010 and 2012. These are no small things. Let’s take a moment to be grateful for it.



Okay. Moment’s over. I think we’ve all heard this speech before. It’s an oldie but goodie. I’ll never tire of hearing it. But the great thing about being President is that he can do a whole lot more than just give speeches to the diehard faithful. Now that, you know, he’s actually President, he has a tremendous bully pulpit with Congress — and with voters in Maine and Washington (which, by the way, he didn’t mention). There are some Executive Orders he can sign on DADT, and some DOJ briefs on DOMA he can influence. You know, Presidential executive-type stuff. Action-type stuff."
Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin

"My reaction: a friend has been sending me ecstatic emails about the speech. I just watched it—the speech is every bit as good as the ones candidate Obama gave, as the performance candidate Obama delivered at the HRC/Logo Democratic Primary Debate, as the open letter to the LGBT community that candidate Obama released before last November's election. Imagine all the wonderful things this guy is going to accomplish if he ever actually gets elected president. In other words: sorry, folks, nothing new to see here. Pledges, promises, excuses. Lip service." Dan Savage writing on the Slog hosted by The Stranger

The panel on CNN. Hillary Rosen has his back. Dan Coi. Michael Signorile and Dan Savage do not.

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