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May 12th, 2009
11:26 AM ET

It’s time for Democrats to come out of the closet about gays in the military

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "President Obama greets troops during a visit to Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq on April 7, 2009."]

By Robert Zimmerman
AC360° Contributor and CNN Political Analyst

In the contentious battle for the Democratic nomination for president, one of the few issues that united the candidates and the party was a commitment to end the policy toward gays and lesbians in military service referred to as “don’t ask, don’t tell.” This is the policy that requires our servicemen and women to either lie about or hide their sexual orientation in order to maintain their status in military service.

It is hard to imagine that 16 years ago this policy was regarded as an innovative approach to block the harassment and dismissal of gay and lesbian members of our armed services. Though a source of bitter controversy at that time, it was considered to be a step forward. However, it has clearly not accomplished its intended purpose and must end. President Barack Obama made that clear during the 2008 campaign and in his first 100 days in office. He has also been joined by Generals Colin Powell, John Shalikashvili, Iraqi war heroes such as Congressman Patrick Murphy and many others who have served our nation in support of that position.

So what is keeping the Democrats in the closet on this issue while brave gay men and women in the military are being fired for either being forced out of the closet or coming out on their own? Sure the Obama Administration is busy with a very full agenda. That comes with the job. The Truman Administration brought World War II to a victorious conclusion, rebuilt Western Europe under the Marshall Plan and also took the bold and controversial steps to integrate the military during a historically challenging time in our nation’s history. The Johnson Administration signed into law landmark civil rights legislation during a very contentious and divisive time for our country.

Keep reading this story

Related: Gay soldier: Don't fire me

Filed under: Gay Rights • Military
May 12th, 2009
10:56 AM ET

President Obama's new take on healthcare reform

John P. Avlon is the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics and writes a weekly column for The Daily Beast. Previously, he served as Chief Speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.
[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "John Avlon says President Obama is cultivating a broader coalition than past presidents to tackle healthcare reform."]

By John Avlon
Special to CNN

Something’s happening on healthcare reform – and it isn’t just déjà vu all over again.

Democratic presidents since Truman have wrestled with healthcare reform. Jimmy Carter 's attempts died at the hands of congressional liberals who wanted a Canadian-style single-payer system. These advocates of all-or-nothing got nothing. Bill Clinton’s ambitions fell under criticism of its secretive top-down policy approach and a successful industry effort to stigmatize it as “socializing one-seventh of the economy.”

You’ve got to give this to President Obama – the man is a student of history and he’s determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Yesterday, he brought health care industry executives and union leaders to the White House in an example of his patented ability to bring diverse interests to the same table. They emerged with a voluntary agreement to cut costs by $2 trillion over the next 10 years, which could eventually translate to a savings of $2500 per family. As impressive as the promised savings, the odd coupling was arguably more impressive: some of the same folks who were fighting healthcare reform a decade and a half ago are today eager participants.

They seem to have bought into President Obama’s reframing of healthcare reform beyond individual heartstring stories and toward a more hard-headed argument based on fiscal responsibility and international competitiveness. It is an argument that business understands.

Healthcare reform legislation is still in development, but President Obama is already cultivating a much broader coalition that presidents have in the past. In his prime time press conference marking his first 100 days in office, he even indicated one substantive area of bipartisan cooperation he had discussed with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – putting medical malpractice reform in any healthcare package to reduce costs.

The devil will, of course, be in the details – but some kind of a public-private partnership to address the 47 million uninsured Americans seems in the cards for Obama’s ambitious opening year.

Filed under: Health • Politics
May 12th, 2009
10:45 AM ET
May 12th, 2009
10:44 AM ET

Frum: Cheney should not be criticizing Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "David Frum says the GOP's strength lies with actual governance and achievement at the state level."]

Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is now standing up for former Vice President Dick Cheney after Cheney took aim at the White House, Democrats and even Colin Powell. Powell suggested that Republicans need to move toward the political center to survive and Cheney took a shot questioning whether Powell was even a Republican anymore.

Limbaugh commented on the matter, saying “What motivates Dick Cheney? Love of country. National interest. He doesn't need this abuse. He's the lone voice. But if we're going to moderate and try to make ourselves look like we're on the same page as Obama, well, he is going to get all the credit for all the good and we’re going to all the blame for all the bad and there is going to be no reason to ever vote for Republicans.”

David Frum is a conservative columnist and editor of and was a speechwriter for former President George W. Bush. He spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.

Kiran Chetry: How troubling is it when you have two very polarizing figures like Rush Limbaugh and former Vice President Dick Cheney taking up a lot of air time for the Republican Party? As a Republican, does that concern you?

David Frum: Look, Dick Cheney is a great man and one of the most effective and knowledgeable people in the Bush administration and all of Washington. The country owes him a great deal. But this kind of dispute reminds me of those t-shirts you sometimes see at boot camps and things like that... the beatings will continue until morale improves. The firings from the Republican Party will continue until the party gets bigger. I don't think what we need is a fight between Dick Cheney and Colin Powell.

A Republican Party that’s not big enough to include Colin Powell – well that’s not a very big party… Many people inside Washington think of Colin Powell as a figure who’s about domestic politics. But in the eyes of America he is the general who won the only unequivocal victory this country has seen in any war since World War II. So if you want to say we don't have room for him, well we have room for all the generals for the losing wars we don’t have room for the generals from the winning wars and I don't think that's a very appealing message.


Filed under: Politics
May 12th, 2009
10:13 AM ET

Farrah Fawcett fights back

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption= "Acress Farrah Fawcett speaks out against tabloids in an interview with the Los Angeles Times."]

Farrah Fawcett has fallen under the microscope as she seeks treatment for cancer. Headlines are all but announcing her death. Now Fawcett is speaking out.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, she alleges the hospital where she sought cancer treatment pressured her to donate money. And worse, they sold her medical records to the National Enquirer. Explosive allegations that Fawcett says have taken a big toll on her health.

"I knew immediately that the information was coming from UCLA to the National Enquirer. So when my cancer came back, that's when I set it up with the doctor, I said, ‘Okay, you know and I know,' so I knew if it came out it was coming from UCLA."

The "Charlie's Angels" star says UCLA Medical Center initially did nothing to stop it. UCLA eventually did investigate the matter and found one of its employees had been looking at patients' records, but the hospital would not reveal the name to Fawcett's lawyers.

“She said, 'We have a responsibility to protect our employees.' And I said, 'More than your patients?'" says Fawcett.

The interview with the Los Angeles Times was recorded last August but held until now, timed to the release of her new documentary. In the interview Fawcett says cancer "becomes your life…it's all consuming... Then, your quality of life is never the same."


Filed under: Entertainment
May 12th, 2009
08:42 AM ET
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