Saturday, May 2, 2009
Executive Policy by Website: Do changes to whitehouse.gov matter? Don't Ask Don't Tell Changes and Changes Again
According to a few progressive websites, whitehouse.gov has been undergoing some changes and these changes are being "tracked."
For example, Pro Publica has introduced Change Tracker, which lists all additions, deletions, and changes to whitehouse.gov, available here. (There are also instructions on how to use Change Tracker for other websites).
On Think Progress and AmericaBlog, reports are that the "civil rights" pages of whitehouse.gov have been rewritten to "walk back" Obama's committment to terminate the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy governing sexual minorities in the military. According to Think Progress:
The website used to emphasize Obama’s firm commitment to repealing the discriminatory policy:
President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.
However, after changes apparently made last night, the previous full, earnest paragraph was slashed to one half of a sentence promoting only “changing” the law “in a sensible way”:
[Obama] supports changing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security, and also believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation.
However, today Pro Publica (courtesy of the "handy Changetracker tool") noted that
last night the White House reinserted language saying President Obama supports the “repeal” of Don't Ask Don't Tell. The new phrasing: "He supports repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and national security."
One senses that there is some meaning in all these changes, but what is it?