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Valerie Jarrett Responds to Dan Choi

This morning, Dan Choi appeared on CNN and said that Obama had lost his trust, and he would not be voting for him in the future.  Tonight Wolf Blitzer played Choi’s comments for Valerie Jarrett:

CHOI: Valerie Jarrett said that gay people, some of us should try to understand the politics and the situation, and that we are a “nation of laws.” Well we understand that, we don’t need a lecture from Valerie Jarret on that. Civics, Day 1. American Government. Checks and balances.

When Congress enacts a law that’s unconstitutional, whose job is it to strike it down? The courts. I understand the judicial branch is now the only branch of government that is fulfilling its mandate to the constitution. And that the President is not able to do that, it upsets me. I am resentful. Absolutely.

CNN: But do you understand the administration’s position, that they say they are committed to repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but they want to do it through Congress, they don’t want to do it through the courts.

CHOI: No they’re not. I don’t think they’re committed at all.

CNN: You don’t? You think this is just…

CHOI: I think this is just politics. This is a midterm election calculation from the politicians in the White House and the administration.

CNN: So you don’t trust them.

CHOI: I do not. And actually at this point I have a message for Valerie Jarrett and all those politicians in the White House: You have lost my trust. You have lost my trust, and I am not going to vote for Barack Obama after what he did yesterday.

Jarrett responded:

BLITZER: You hear that from a lot of activists in the gay community right now, they’re very very upset.

JARRETT: Well listen Wolf, first off, it’s a pleasure to be here, thank you for inviting me on. This is a very important issue, and I’d like to just address it directly.

The President has said, that during his term in office, as soon as possible, he would like Congress to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. It’s legislation that was passed by Congress, he cannot simply sign an executive order to revoke it, or he would have. And so we’re asking Congress to repeal it. Until then, the JD has no choice but to defend the laws that are on the books, and that’s what the JD is doing But we want it to end, and we want it to end as soon as possible.

BLITZER: One legal scholar suggested today that perhaps the President could go ahead and do what he needs to do, but at the same time make it clear to everyone that he thinks this law is unconstitutional.

JARRETT: He ‘s done that, he said it as recently as last week when he was at a town hall meeting. He said he thinks that this law should be absolutely repealed. He doesn’t believe in this law. He agrees that there are gay men and women serving in our military, proudly defending our country, putting their life on the line every single day and that this law has no place in our country. But it is an act of Congress, and Congress should repeal it.

BLITZER: But as you know, after the elections, almost certainly there are going to be more Republicans and conservatives in the new congress than in the current congress.

JARRETT: This shouldn’t be a Republican or a Democratic issue.

BLITZER: It shouldn’t be, but it could be, between liberals and conservatives. So here’s a question: will you push for repealing DADT during the lame duck session?

JARRETT: I know that the President has said that he wants it repealed as quickly as possible. I think if you look at any kind of survey, the vast majority of Americans people want it to be repealed, so it shouldn’t be a partisan issue. And we do fully intend to push forward. And we share the frustration of people who think it should be done right away, we wish that it had been done sooner, but we are determined to get it done.

BLITZER: So if Dan Choi were here, what would you say to him? Because you can see how upset he is.

JARRETT: I appreciate his frustration, I share his frustration, and I understand that for somebody who has served proudly in the military, that he thinks it’s an outrage, we think it’s an outrage too. And we think that the focus should be directed at Congress, because Congress is the one that passed it in the first place, Congress is the one who should repeal it.

Number one, when did Obama say that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is unconstitutional? I’m rather sure she’s putting words in his mouth, I’d be happy to be wrong about that.

Further, Judge Virginia Phillips has already ruled Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell unconstitutional.   If the President truly does believe Don’t Ask, Don’t tell is unconstitutional, he has all of the justification he needs to let Judge Phillips’ decision stand.

But there is an extremely serious problem with having Valerie Jarrett continue to be the White House spokesperson on this matter.  I defended Jarrett earlier this week over her use of the words “lifestyle choice” when addressing the issue of LGTB teen suicide.  I said it didn’t make her a bad person, but it did show she was out of touch with the discourse in the LGBT community.  And that meant she emphatically should not be in charge of LGBT issues at the White House.

The fact that Jarrett could use a term that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to LGBT people, and still be out there as White House spokesperson on the issue of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, is symptomatic of something deeply wrong.  She should have stepped down, because her continued presence in the media on this issue is like pouring gasoline on the fire.  They should have replaced her with someone else immediately.  It’s a sign of incredible callousness and insensitivity on the part of the administration that she continues to be their spokesperson on this issue.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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