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Harry Reid Turned The Tables On Choi At Netroots Nation

07/26/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
There is a growing feeling across the net that Senator Harry Reid turned the tables on Dan Choi with the recent decision by Choi to hand his West Point graduation ring to the Senate Majority Leader. In fact, there is some growing feeling across the net that Choi and his actions on behalf of Get Equal, or with Get Equal may be counter productive.

Rick Rosendall over at GLAA had this to say about Choi and Get Equal:

“I happened to be standing right next to Robin McGehee on March 18 in D.C. when she (on behalf of GetEQUAL) threatened to disrupt HRC’s Kathy Griffin/DADT repeal rally unless they let Dan Choi speak. Since boorishness, attacks on our friends, and hijacking other groups’ events are not my idea of effective activism, and since it would be insanely harmful to our cause to help Reid’s nutbag opponent get elected, and since the lovely Mr. Choi has shown more drama than judgment, I’d say the attempted zap worked out surprisingly well — at least for the candidate I want to see elected. GetEQUAL may find the prospect of a Senator Sharron Angle and a Majority Leader Mitch McConnell somehow liberating, but I do not.”

Rick Rosendall includes some interesting comments from Steve Friess about the attempt by Choi to embarrass Reid.

So how did an effort to embarrass Reid turn into something of an emotional triumph for him? . . .Choi’s protest at Netroots on Saturday? Not so much. It was nuanced and complex, it was so easily misinterpreted that even the person Choi wanted to embarrass didn’t get it. And in the end, the media got this warm moment of Reid and Choi embracing, and the idea of boiling into a soundbite everything I’ve written here was absolutely impossible. Mission failed.

And from an article written by Friess himself:

“But McCarter got choked up and didn’t make a point of the fact that the letters she was handing him included not just the discharge papers but also those from Reid to Choi that contained broken promises. And Reid also misunderstood the point of his receiving the ring — he became emotional about it because he thought it was a gift, a symbolic gesture to embolden Reid to get the DADT job done. It was actually supposed to be the equivalent of a divorcee giving her wedding ring back to her husband, see. . .But in a way, Saturday was a useful lesson in the art of protest. These didn’t work. At first I blamed the media, but when I realized I was about the only one in the MSM who got it right, it dawned on me that it wasn’t my colleagues’ faults. Had I not been forewarned by sources of what was about to take place and why, I probably would have interpreted it very similarly.”

Rosendall includes some more comments from Michael Petrelis:

Was GE even thinking that reid’s people might have planned for a zap or action of some sort during his NN (Netroots Nation) speech? um, after GE [GetEQUAL] zapped the traffic on the strip and cited reid’s name, just maybe his staff was prepared and GE wasn’t, again? . . Mission failed are the words i have associated with kip and robin, when they were in one struggle, one fight and meed in the middle, and didn’t keep promises made about CA organizing, and the same words i associate with them and dan choi and the other GE members who put on the DC march in october and failed to deliver a national network in 435 congressional districts, and the same words i associate with their inability to stage a single public meeting of their own to explain whatever their agenda is, get a decent and interactive web site operating, present a plan to the community. lurching from zap to zap and spending jonathan lewis’ money generating small news quick to fade, ain’t a plan.

GE has sucked all the activist oxygen out of the movement and they have little support, or community engagement, or measureable successes to tout.

What happend in vegas by the gays for NN will stay in vegas and have little impact on moving the gay agenda forward. harry reid ain’t gonna do a damn thing for us because he was gifted a ring from a drama queen.”

I have, upon numerous occasions, called what Choi did a beau geste. It is a grand, but ultimately hollow gesture which does not have any solid meaning or strong message to pass along. It is entirely symbolic and worthless. Unfortunately, Choi has a habit of doing these kinds of gestures which, ultimately, are self defeating. Whether or not Senate Majority Leader Reid actually promised to get Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed is immaterial. This particular gesture makes it so that it appears that Reid has made that pledge. Getting it through Congress is pretty much a done deal anyway. The real problem will be getting the seal of approval from Admiral Mike Mullen, Secretary Gates and President Obama.

There are thousands of soldiers who have, very quietly and off the record, expressed their contempt and hatred for Dan Choi. Not for his coming out, but for his grandstanding while in uniform. They have expressed their disgust at him for wearing his uniform to protests. Many veterans feel that being seen getting arrested in uniform was disgraceful and a dishonor to his uniform.

Dan Choi is, apparently, going to be on the Daily Show on Monday night, but the hype out of his camp has made it sound as if he was going to be Jon Stewart’s guest and not a man being brought in to be interviewed by one of the correspondents. Choi is, undoubtably, going to be mocked and made fun of by the correspondent.

There are more voices wondering just how effective Choi and Get Equal are going to be or are being. Many are starting to question the effectiveness of their tactics coupled with a lack of strategy and their assaults on allies to the cause.

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3 Responses to Harry Reid Turned The Tables On Choi At Netroots Nation

  1. Lez Get A Life

    July 27, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    What part of the internet have you been surfing? Most post Vegas analysis of GetEqual’s actions have been extremely positive.

    To name just a few…as there are many others:

    Wayne Besen http://tinyurl.com/23ykyl2
    Kerry Eleveld http://tinyurl.com/29hpz56
    David Mixner http://tinyurl.com/2bvobjg

    Lezgetreal chooses to selectively quote other blog sites (with little following) to make it’s point. Lezgetreal has become the official Lezhategetequal website and losing major credibility by the day.

    Congratulations! You now have AndrewW as a fan. You two will have a great time together grumbling about activists out there trying to make a difference in this world.

  2. AndrewW

    July 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Choi needs to get as far away from GetEQUAL as possible.  GetEQUAL has failed and in the process alienated our friends, made us look childish and stupid AND wasted $500,000 that could have been used for something effective.

  3. Nelson Garcia

    July 27, 2010 at 12:36 am

    Ironicallly, when the incident in question occurred, I thought it signaled a turning point for the equality movement.  Silly me for believing Dan Choi had set the bar to a higher standard, huh?  One would think with all those activists, bloggers and TV and radio personalties present at NN 2010, someone would have told him to shut up and just go with the flow, but no, instead what we have is someone apparently acting like a sore winner, continuing to using equality as a conduit to a career in politics and taking decades worth of struggles and reducing it down to a ten second soundbite.