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Transcript of Robert Gibbs tap dancing around DADT at presser

Louise posted the video in my earlier entry, but you have to read this to believe it. Just landed in my inbox:

Q A federal judge in California has made it clear she’s not going to — probably — uphold the stay of the injunction of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the President said recently that “don’t ask, don’t tell” will end on his watch. Is he, or will he, put pressure on Harry Reid — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to push for a vote during a lame duck session, one. And two, depending on what happens after the midterms, how does the President see ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” if he has diminished majorities or no Democratic control?

MR. GIBBS: Well, first and foremost, in terms of — the process obviously with the judge will render on her own ruling. That then likely goes to a three-judge panel to consider. And we’re certainly monitoring developments, as is the Department of Justice.

The President believes that the policy will end under his watch precisely because in the defense authorization bill pending in the Senate is a provision that would repeal what the President believes is unjust, what the President believes is discriminatory. It’s passed the House. The President will push for defense authorization to be passed containing that provision when the Senate comes back for the lame duck.

We have obviously a lot of important business in that legislation. The repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is certainly one of those aspects. My sense is if you can get through a filibuster — and again, everything takes 60 votes these days — that there are a majority of U.S. senators that believe, as the President does, that this policy isn’t right and that it harms our national security.

So the President will work during the lame duck to ensure that that bill is passed and that what’s passed the House and what’s passed in the Senate can end up on his desk for his signature. But again, I think if we can get passed the procedural hurdles, that a majority of the U.S. Senate believes as the President does that it is time for this policy to change.

The courts have — the courts in a number of different instances out West have determined that the lifespan of this policy is coming to its natural end. I think that that was recognized in the House. I think it will be recognized in the Senate and the bill — the law will be repealed.

He continues dancing below the fold.

Q Can I follow? If the President believes that, then why doesn’t he repeal it now? Is he just waiting until after the election?

MR. GIBBS: Well, we can’t repeal it now because, one, the Senate is not here. Remember, the law that was passed in the early ’90s does not give the power to repeal the law to the Commander-in-Chief. It’s a congressional action that can only be durably repealed through another legislative action.

I think the President was asked last Thursday at the town hall, why not simply sign an executive order like Harry Truman. The law that was passed, I guess in 1993, does not afford for executive action to remove the law.

Q Well, where does the Justice Department stand on —

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, as we said last week, we believe the law should be repealed and we believe that, as the Pentagon studies a process for an orderly transition, that we think will come to pass in repeal of the law.

Q Did the judge nullify the law?


Q Well, then there is no law anymore.

MR. GIBBS: Again, the earlier answer that I gave, which is we believe that a process has to be put in process for that orderly transition.

Q Since the Justice Department is officially appealing the case, is it necessarily true that the President believes that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a constitutional law?

MR. GIBBS: Again, I have enumerated for you the belief — the President’s belief that it’s unjust, it’s discriminatory, and that it harms our national security.

Q Well, you’ve never enumerated for us his belief on the constitutionality of it.

MR. GIBBS: I haven’t.

Q I’m confused, though. If it does end up in Congress under a filibuster, would you guys force a filibuster? Because you’ve never done that before.

MR. GIBBS: Force a filibuster? I don’t know what —

Q Where you actually — you were saying that if it goes — if you can get through a filibuster, a Republican filibuster in Congress. You’ve never actually forced a filibuster before. You’ve never vetoed or called the Republicans’ bluff on anything.

MR. GIBBS: Well, maybe I’m confused at what you’re —

Q — if he doesn’t have 60 votes.

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, the President will work to try to get 60 votes —

Q But if he doesn’t would he force a — will you force the Republicans to filibuster it?

MR. GIBBS: The final passage of the bill? Again, there has to be a vote to take — it’s in the underlying bill. It’s in the base bill. I think you can go back and find Republican quotes about the harm of not passing a defense authorization bill in the past and ensuring that we have the necessary resources for our military to do what it needs to do.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding