Hey Steve Z - I think you got it right. But that doesn't make it right. Does that make sense?
Clinton settled for the progress he could make at the time. He got ambushed on gay rights coming out of the gate in his first 100 days in office. By creating the "gay issue", conservatives placed Clinton in a very precarious political position for someone whose political capital rested on being seen as a moderate from a poor southern state. It probably isn't too far off the mark to say that his ability to accomplish anything in his Presidency was riding on how he resolved the gays-in-the-military issue. So he compromised - or, as we Liberals prefer to say, he made a deal with the devil.
At any rate, your description of a "stepping stone" is pretty darn accurate in my view.
The BIG problem is one that would come to haunt Clinton in his later years - and that is that the solution Clinton came up with and endorsed was ethically and morally bankrupt. As Stephen Colbert recently observed, Don't Ask Don't Tell was the only law ever adopted in this country that required honest people to LIE to keep their jobs.
It's a retty sad state of affairs when we have to use something like that as a stepping stone. Then again, 'separate but equal' was a pretty bankrupt policy, too - but that also was probably a necessary baby step at the time for people who refused to run, let alone fly.
This country could sure use a few more wings!
[This message has been edited by Steve Craddock (12/21/2010)]