After Afghanistan Speech, A Nation Building Test For Obama
President Obama made his highly anticipated speech on Afghanistan last night, promising to bring home 33,000 U.S. troops by September 2012, and to refocus energies on domestic “nation building.” Is he making good on his word? Not in terms of LGBT equality.
In his Afghanistan speech last night, President Obama laid out his plan for troop withdrawal: 10,000 troops will leave by the end of this year, and another 23,000 by next September.
But this plan still leaves 68,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan, and only saves the nation about $15 billion between now and the September deadline. That’s hardly enough to make a dent in our nation’s massive budget.
Still, Obama’s optimistic his road map will help address another daunting challenge: getting our domestic house in order.
“We are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens at home,” Obama said in speech. “Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times.”
“Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource — our people… America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.” Obama can start that nation building tonight.
After visiting New York’s Fort Drum this afternoon, Obama will fly to New York City, where he’ll attend a $1,250-per-person LGBT fundraiser.
That fundraiser, coincidentally enough, coincides with New York State’s impending vote on marriage equality, and Obama will face at least some protests over his “evolving,” yet still remarkably stagnant, opposition to same-sex marriage.
There’s no indication Obama plans to change his tune tonight. Nor are people confident that the president will celebrate a hypothetical marriage win in the Empire State.
Rather, he’s most likely going to repeat his same talking points, warming the crowd with his vast LGBT accomplishments — the slow repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, passage of hate crimes legislation — and then take their money and run. That’s a shame.
If Obama truly believed in nation-building, he would break barriers and come out swinging for full LGBT rights, including Employment Non-Discrimination and inclusive immigration reform, because, as Obama said in his speech last night, “What sets America apart is not solely our power — it is the principles upon which our union was founded.”
And those principles are quite clear: all men are created equal, even when they’re queer.