Thursday, July 29, 2010

O’Reilly on DADT

Here’s an eyebrow-raiser from Bill O’Reilly:

“President Obama has the power to stop this ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ business. Just sign an executive order. I don’t know why it’s taking so long–it’s not fair. We should stop this nonsense,” said O’Reilly.

This was the other night on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

As much as I appreciate the sentiment, President Obama can’t just eliminate DADT with the stroke of a pen on an executive order. It’s a law, and as much as some Republicans like the idea of sweeping presidential power — as long as it’s one of theirs in office — the president can’t overturn a law by executive order. He can stop enforcement of it, but the next Republican president can reinstate it just as easily. We’ve seen that happen with the on-again/off-again ban on giving federal money to international groups that perform abortions or provide abortion information. What is needed is a full legislative repeal signed into law.

I suppose I could get all cynical and say that the only reason that Mr. O’Reilly is making this suggestion is so that he can tweak the president for not living up to his promise to repeal the ban on openly gay people serving in the military; “C’mon, Mr. President, where’s your support for gay rights now?” But I really think that he just doesn’t understand the concept of executive orders vs. the law.